Critical Essays Archive
Excerpt: William Trevor almost always describes a character early in the story, using only a sentence or two, but getting at the essence of the character in a way that feels intimate and true. The descriptions are highly visual, often focusing on the face, but always gesturing towards characterization.
Before social media helped readers discover poetry, the world seemed smaller. In the early 90s, when I was a preteen starting to figure out that not all great poets were dead, I had little to go on.
Both Solnit and Milosz transform picturesque vistas into fully alive places on the page. Their methods are instructive not only for writing about place, but as tools for toggling between any set of Big Questions and the particulars of moving as a body through streets.
Two adjacent poems in Tarfia Faizullah’s new collection reckon with the ways in which others—readers, peers, and perhaps mentors—respond to and even challenge the traumatic subjects about which a poet writes.
The tourists, travelers, and colonial police of The Sheltering Sky are mostly disaffected and unmoored Westerners who see their time in Algeria as temporary. The protagonist defines a tourist as someone who “generally hurries back home at the end of a few weeks or months.”
Carrington’s novel seeks to upend retrograde Surrealist tropes about women. But rather than portraying a more typical feminist utopia in which women reign supreme, the novel aims to create a gender-neutral world that embodies a very different Surrealist ideal: pneuma.
In Yiyun Li’s short story “A Flawless Silence” from The New Yorker, the main character Min is in a relationship where she does not feel completely safe standing up to her husband. But, as the reader sees, Min often uses silence to her advantage.
Future Home of the Living God has been hailed as the heir to Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, mostly because it talks about women forced to carry out pregnancies and dystopian political repression. Those two ideas together, however, are nothing new.
One very early morning, during an especially harrowing walk through icy winds and freezing puddles on the road from Auschwitz to a work site, prisoner Viktor Frankl lost himself in thoughts of his wife.
There’s much more to fictional weatherscapes than the tonal work that lies on the surface. Weather presents a fundamental aspect of narrative that, by definition, lies outside of the realm of agency.