Author Archive

Impending Trouble in “Aloha Cars” and “A Distant Episode”

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In Shifra Cornfeld’s “Aloha Cars” and Paul Bowles’s “A Distant Episode,” colonial fascination with a place and a culture leads each story’s protagonist to objectify and underestimate a place’s people, ultimately driving the protagonist to a downfall of their own making.

Doing Nothing and Eat, Pray, Love

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Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2006 memoir explores a restlessness she spends her sojourn contending with. It is a restlessness brought on by a rift that has formed between her mind and her body, a restlessness shared by all of us who were raised on the lap of the Protestant work ethic.

The Meaning of Parenting in Alistair MacLeod’s “The Boat”

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We are often blind to the disparity between the behavior we instruct and the behavior we model for our children. But even more nuanced are the differences between the behaviors we try to emphasize—our aspirational behaviors—and the ones we try to downplay, which are often even more prominent.

Food and Trauma in Nigel Slater’s Toast

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Nigel Slater demonstrates an original and expert use of food in his 2011 memoir, as a sort of spyglass through which to investigate his own life, and as a thread with which to weave a tapestry full of deep unexplored emotions and intense memories.

The Chaotic Storm of Motherhood in Tomorrow We’ll Go to the Amusement Park

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Ilana Bernstein’s 2018 novel is a portrait of a motherhood so demanding and a depression so immersive that it becomes impossible to tell which came first. Throughout the book, the symptoms of the narrator’s different conditions, including being a mother, become indistinguishable from one another, her emotions bleeding into

Acceptance in Love

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Books by Sally Rooney, Anat Levit, and Daniel Sloss show us how to triumph over tension in relationships: rather than be at war with each other’s pet peeves, lovers share the pain—and perhaps a laugh—when admitting that love is anything but simple.

Anger and Empathy in A Complicated Kindness

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Miriam Toews’s 2004 novel explores layers of trauma in a Mennonite community, but the most striking, heartbreaking thing about this book is the moments of grace that Toews identifies within the pain.

The Creation of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

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Despite the memoir’s rigorous production method, Jean-Dominique Bauby’s mind wanders throughout the book, resulting in the vivid connection between his present and his past.

Death as a Narrator in Assaf Schurr’s Thus Spoke Vincent, the Stupid Cat

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Vincent the dead cat is a wake-up call in Assaf Schurr’s ten-year-old novel, much like a god or a guiding hand pushing the plot along. He speaks inconvenient truths and appears to be omniscient, at least when it comes to the secret lives of the book’s characters.

Death as the Villain in Pet Sematary

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Beneath the waking nightmares, reanimated children, and mythological Wendigo, Stephen King’s 1983 novel is about a fundamental and universal experience: grief and the fear of death.