Author Archive

Hashtag Good Guy With a Gun’s Unsettling Portrayal of the Dark Cells of the Internet

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Jeff Chon’s 2020 novel creates the impression that we cannot help but be immersed in the very toxic culture being satirized and critiqued. We feel the discomfiting sense that we are operating on someone else’s turf—and we aren’t likely to find our way out anytime soon.

Also a Poet’s Exploration of Not Being There

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It can be astonishing to learn how different our loved ones were when we weren’t around to know them. It can feel like a personal connection is lost, or that the person we know in the present is somehow incomplete.

Preparation for the Next Life’s Accumulation of Stories

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Atticus Lish’s 2014 novel is a book with many stories piled up inside it, its personalities, with their long and painful histories, bumping and crashing into each other in the present. It is a love story that rarely uses the word love.

Maggie Nelson’s Complication of Freedom

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In her 2021 book, Maggie Nelson comes to identify and appreciate freedom’s paradox—that true freedom comes with an understanding of limits, or an appreciation of the idea of constraint.

Revisiting The Intuitionist

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Colson Whitehead’s first book is a complex story that takes an authoritative point of view within a deeply imagined world.

Nicholson Baker’s Deep Dives

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Nicholson Baker’s longform essay “Lumber” is about the joy of one man doing the work of discovery and learning, and the fact that it comes from a time before the lazy chaos of the internet might be the most enjoyable thing about it.

The Word as Souvenir in The Souvenir Museum

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Elizabeth McCracken’s stories do more than speak—they wink and flirt, make visual puns as though they are doing a skit together, improvising and seeing if they can get their stage partner to crack, while the reader, seeing the winks and the gestures, knows they are part of the show.

Andy Capp and the Survival of the Neediest

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Often our ugliest and most tired characters are casually granted new pathways to reinvent and rebrand themselves, allowed safe distance from darker histories their creators would prefer we forget.