reading Archive

One Year In—Writing the Novel: Benjamin Percy

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After one year of writing my novel, I took stock of what I’d accomplished—which seemed like very little. Would writing always feel like flailing? How do novelists find their way through? For guidance, I turned to published novelists, whose interviews are presented in the One Year In: Writing the Novel series.

The Thirsty Games

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It’s so cold in Chicago that the temperature isn’t even negative; it has one of those calculus sigmas in front of it, and there’s some kind of logarithm involved. Maybe you’re sitting in the sun on your California balcony, you ingrate, but here in the Midwest there’s little to

People of the Book: Erika Boeckeler

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People of the Book is an interview series gathering those engaged with books, broadly defined. As participants answer the same set of questions, their varied responses chart an informal ethnography of the book, highlighting its rich history as a mutable medium and anticipating its potential future. This week brings the

Writing is Like Making Snowballs

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It snowed today. It was supposed to snow, but only for a minute, and it was not supposed to stick.  Instead it snowed all day and as the sun went down at 4:30 (alas) the snow was still there on the lawn.  And while part of me is so

On Reading Diaries: It’s Not Just for Pesky Little Brothers

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We were in our green Ford Aerostar, my high-school self trying to engage my parents in a serious discussion, when my brother began quoting, softly at first, lines from my diary. The kinds of lines you write for yourself, lines that are embarrassing and incriminating when recited out loud

Ploughshares at Boston Book Festival

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Hey there, Boston area writers and readers! On Saturday, October 19, Ploughshares will be chatting, selling issues, and answering your questions at the Boston Book Festival in Copley Square Park. Come stop by our booth to say hi. We promise to be charming and personable. No blank stares! Plus,

Between Centuries: A Six-Month Perspective

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The year is more than half over, which means those of us who attempted New Year’s resolutions have either mastered, given up, or heavily revised them. It also means my year of reading 100-year-old books is halfway finished. It all started, in February, with a dead poet and a

Raising ’em right: Fiction & Parenthood

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Within the next few weeks, I’ll be officially responsible for introducing another human being to a sense of ethics—of how to be in this world. Granted, she and I will be initially concerned with a few other things, but the time will come when we will talk about right

From the Slush Pile: Readers Speak

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If there was a magic pill—you know lose weight, no exercise—to beat the slush pile and warm the hearts of editors straight to publication, I’d eat it and then dole it out to all of you. But we all know you have to do the work, show up every

Mother-Reader

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In retrospect, I did everything wrong when I opened Emma Donoghue’s excellent story collection Astray. I didn’t check the author notes explaining the origins of each piece. I didn’t note the time: midnight. It didn’t occur to me that in a collection chronicling historical moments, there might be violence,