Pleasurable Disorientation in Lee Young-ju’s Cold Candies

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The experience of reading Lee Young-ju’s collection is to find oneself suspended in an unfamiliar zone, and the disorientation is pleasurable.

Simone Weil’s Practice of Attention

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Weil’s unflagging appeal is in the way she calls us to the miracle of presence in lives beset by struggle. This practice of attention need not ask of all of us the sacrifice it asked of her, but it asks of us something.

The Time and the Cure: The Moment of The Magic Mountain

Despite time being such a central concern of Thomas Mann’s 1924 novel, when I chose to read it at the beginning of the pandemic I did not have in mind that it was a novel about time. I thought of it as the pinnacle of the bildungsroman, and a

Fire Is Not a Country’s Observation of the Apocalypse

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The tension between the self and the marketplace is the kindle in Cynthia Dewi Oka’s poetry collection. The book draws much of its power from domestic scenes set against an apocalyptic background; here, social mobility is not merely an aspiration, but a search for safety through a series of

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.

Collective Despair in Ana Blandiana’s Five Books

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The poems in Romanian poet Ana Blandiana’s collection offer an uncensored, searing reality of the poverty that Communism created, depicted as an imagistic tragedy from the perspective of those who suffered through it.

Italo Calvino and the Form of Outer Space

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When the distinction between form and content is difficult to perceive, it can become nearly impossible to articulate the relationship between these supposed opposites. This tangle of questions is not limited to the arts; the problem of form and matter is important to anyone who deals with questions of

The Dawn of the Queer Ecological Novel

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The need for a queer ecological novel is increasingly apparent, as it becomes difficult to imagine any story, any life, unaffected by the reality of climate change.

Finding Sincerity at The Cheesecake Factory

Part cultural critique and part bildungsroman, Rax King’s debut essay collection offers a rigorous defense of low culture while charting her adolescence in the early 2000s, each cultural totem serving as a lens through which she explores her budding sexuality, her father’s death, and her abusive first marriage.

Oppen on the Unfinished Voyage

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Facing George Oppen’s “shipwreck of the singular” positions one to reconsider a problem with the act of naming, of not remaining silent: to name our own singularity ignores the material of the wreck, the end of one’s own life equivalent to the end of the world.