Refusing Detachment in Ada Limón’s The Hurting Kind

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Limón’s new collection refuses numb detachment or an easy forgetting. She affords constant dignity to those whose fragilities are too often framed as liabilities, those who can’t (or won’t) avoid the incessant constellating of experience and memory.

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.

A Loving, Faithful Animal’s Story of a Scar

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When viewing Josephine Rowe’s 2016 novel through the perspective of faltering chronology and layered trauma mimicking scar tissue, a fuller sense of its compassion and artistry falls into place.

Authority and Trust

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In Hernan Diaz’s new book, narrative distance and style are wielded as signifiers of truth; as the novel progresses, the differing narrative strategies of each section create a progression of collapsing narrative distance that brings the reader closer—one feels—to the version of the story they can trust.

Julie Otsuka’s Layered Points of View

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Julie Otsuka’s new novel is divided into five chapters, three written in the first-person plural perspective and two in the second-person; the novel examines dementia, familial relationships, and the friction between the collective and the individual, using the shifts in point-of-view to marry form to content.

Meaningless Craft and Crafting Meaning in Ali Smith’s Companion Piece

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Craft, in Ali Smith’s hand, is malleable. It produces meaning that is disparate from the terms and antecedents of its making.

The Climate Narrative within This Is How You Lose the Time War

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Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s 2019 novel is primarily a love story, but through a series of metaphors and associations, it also reveals itself to be a veiled climate novel, not only fictionalizing the climate crisis but perhaps also suggesting a solution to it.

Ariel Francisco’s Poetry as Documentation

Governments may want people to provide documentation proving that they are, in fact, people, but poets provide documentation for the people. It is the poet’s job to document the moments that would otherwise be lost—to document moments for the people.

W. S. Merwin’s Ancestral Memory in Victoria Chang’s The Trees Witness Everything

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Almost every poem in Victoria Chang’s new collection gets its title from a W. S. Merwin poem of the same name. Both poets seem to believe in the idea that history and life are really just ongoing cycles designed to propel us forward, just as they also keep us

Climate Resignation in Inter Ice Age 4

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A forgotten classic in the realm of climate fiction, Kōbō Abe’s 1958 sci-fi thriller represents a telling effort in assessing why so many of us feel resigned to our climate fate—and why it is fundamentally difficult to understand the magnitude of the problem that lies before us.