Author Archive

“Grief with animals isn’t the same, and we can learn something from that”: An Interview with Annie Hartnett

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By combining the voices of the dead with the experiences of the living, Annie Hartnett builds a sense of community. Her characters are not navigating hardships in isolation but with the support of family and friends, animals and the dead.

“Girlhood is a much darker, more complex—more amazing—experience than what that association suggests”: An Interview with Melissa Febos

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The essays of Febos’s new essay collection read less like a coming-of-age story than they do like a manifesto of all the ways girlhood takes a toll on a girl’s life, as well as of the cultural experience of being a woman.

Memory and Transformation in Aurelia, Aurélia

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Kathryn Davis’s new memoir explores memory as something formative—something that begins as a static point then transitions into something alive, yielding something new, remembering becoming an experience in its own right.

Morphine’s Resonant Portrayal of Addiction

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If one were to substitute “opioid” for “morphine,” Mikhail Bulgakov’s 1926 novella feels like it could have been written yesterday. Reading it is thus nearly unbearable: it asks us to look at how little perception and treatment of substance use disorder has changed over the course of a hundred

Mundanity Among Tragedy in How High We Go in the Dark

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Published two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, Sequoia Nagamatsu’s debut novel is in some ways comforting, and in others a brutal reflection of our current moment. Through the course of the tragedies and mundanities explored within, every facet of every person’s life is altered; Nagamatsu explores how people handle

The Singular Character of Tolstoy’s Alyosha

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Tolstoy’s treatment of Alyosha may cross over into objectification, but what makes Alyosha a singular character is the way in which he evades being objectified, something that can only be found when Alyosha’s feelings slip through how his father and master view and treat him.

The Meaning of Food in Eat Joy

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In this 2019 anthology, Natalie Eve Garrett collects short essays by 31 different writers, each with a recipe linked to it. The essays reveal how foods hold the shape of memories and people and places, nourishment intertwined with the forces that shaped it.

The Double’s Extreme Break

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What makes Fyodor Dostoevsky’s second novel so painful is the extreme tactic he uses to “penetrat[e] into the depths of the normal human soul,” as translator Richard Pevear observes, and the dramatic shift in character that tactic evokes.

The Social Constructs of Womanhood in I Love You but I’ve Chosen Darkness

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The protagonist of Claire Vaye Watkins’s new novel refuses to perform motherhood, wifedom, and womanhood within the strictures of these words. But her refusal calls into question her very character, in others’ eyes and sometimes also her own. If she doesn’t fulfil these roles, what is she?

The Power of Women in Matrix

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The protagonist of Lauren Groff’s new novel, Marie, watches her mother, grandmother, aunts, and queen exercise power before finally learning to wield it herself. Despite the book’s setting in medieval times, Marie’s plight feels similar to how women must take and assert power even now.