Betrayal in Rainbow Rainbow

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In their debut short story collection, Lydia Conklin examines what it’s like to inhabit a body and/or sexuality that is inherently uncomfortable—not because of one’s certainty about their identity but because of how others reject or suppress it.

Language and Trauma in On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

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Little Dog, the narrator of Ocean Vuong’s debut novel, learns to be strategic in his use of language as a means of self-preservation.

Heather Christle’s Portrait of Crying

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Heather Christle’s 2019 book is a beautiful study of one of humanity’s most universal experiences, its fragments acting as tear drops that, when collected, turn it into one very good, very emotional cry.

A Woman’s Conviction in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and 500 Days of Summer

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Summer, Helena, and Hermia hold fast to their own definitions of love, even in the face of men who refuse and ignore them.

Sentinels of Grief in The Friend

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The Great Dane in Sigrid Nunez’s acclaimed novel embodies grief itself—a presence that comes uninvited, demands attention, disrupts routine, behaves inscrutably, and holds the power of ferocity and tenderness at once.

The Pursuit of Love’s Rejection of Romance

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Nancy Mitford’s tragicomic novel demonstrates the unglamorous acts of love that come from sustained, tested friendships, and it’s from these relationships that the book mines much of its celebrated humor and its overlooked, but just as important, compassion.

Dreadful Sorry’s Exploration of American Nostalgia

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Dispelling the haze of American nostalgia matters, and Jennifer Niesslein shows how it can be done, particularly by those of us who are white—and that, after it is stripped of sentimentality, nostalgia can be a force that drives us to make a beloved place better.

The Power of the Vignette in Mrs. Bridge

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Evan S. Connell’s 1959 novel is composed of 117 neat vignettes that function in several ways: as a social critique of the era’s lust for conformity, as an aesthetic choice representing the psychology of his protagonist, and as an attempt to explicate time's relationship to a forward-looking, consumptive lifestyle.

The Meaning of Home

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In her 2016 memoir, Tsering Wangmo Dhompa travels to Tibet after a lifetime away. As a refugee, Dhompa has lived in Nepal, India, and San Francisco, but it is her return that leads her to consider what home means to an exile—it is the center of loss, rediscovery, and

Cultish’s Exploration of Manipulative Language

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People are often mystified about how anyone could get involved in a cultish group, or may vaguely think that “brainwashing” was involved. Indeed, while we might feel safer if there were more esoteric or arcane tricks being used, Montell argues that cults bewitch followers exactly the same way that