The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington

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Leonora Carrington’s novel revels in inconclusive ideas, surreal reimagining’s, and the peculiarities of human consciousness . . . The novel eludes any whiff of definitiveness, instead layering ideas and questions atop one another like blocks in a Jenga tower. Naturally, Carrington forces the reader to withdraw the first block.

William Gardner Smith’s International Solidarity Against Police Violence

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While there is much to improve in how we support each other at home and across the globe, Smith’s 1963 novel, which documents the 1961 police massacre of Algerian protestors in Paris, reminds us of the immense power in solidarity and our duty to rise up for justice and

Tending the Shared Garden of Immunity

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In trying to understand immunity as concept and metaphor, Eula Biss’s 2014 book reveals the profound ethical dilemma that has always inscribed itself into the vaccination debate, which, at root, is about the relationship between self and other, between individual bodies and the social body.

The Failure of Familial Communication in Happiness, as Such

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Natalia Ginzburg presents a family’s dysfunction as an engrossing emotional rollercoaster, yet manages to make her story both haunting and deeply human.

Levity and Storytelling in A Christmas Carol

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With the indefinite article “a,” Dickens seems to declare that the story is not about a carol, but is, instead, itself a Christmas carol: a song for the season.

The Complicated Reality of Travel in Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

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The stories of ZZ Packer’s 2003 collection often feature characters in new environments, struggling to navigate their changed surroundings; travel pervades the book, but its pieces refute fantasies in favor of more complex realities of what can happen on a journey.

Distance and Home

Writing, to me, is home. I grew up in a family of Cuban exiles. Every Sunday, they told stories about Cuba, a place I couldn’t touch or hear or smell, but that I could, at least in my mind, see. Writing forced me to look closer at these homes,

Lying to Tell the Truth

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Philippe Besson clearly wants to discourage his readers from mistaking his novelistic creation for straightforward autobiography. Equally, though, Besson prompts us to question our assumptions, to pay attention not only to the fictiveness of his novel, but also to the narrative quality of our own life stories.

Reading A Literary Field Guide to Southern Appalachia

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I did not know before encountering this anthology’s opening fact that the eastern cougar, “puma, mountain lion, wildcat, catamount, painter, mountain screamer, in all its many names,” had been declared extinct in 2018 from where I am from. This caught a latch in my throat, lighter to such knowledge’s

Italo Calvino and the New Gods of Boston

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The visibility or invisibility of a city’s parts is always in flux, but this year it was dizzying. In March and April, Boston felt like a ghost town—its trains, streets, and office buildings emptied. The students disappeared, and so did my neighbor, Gary, who didn’t have a home to