Urban Tumbleweed’s Interrogation of the “Natural” World

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In calling attention to her own unknowability, Harryette Mullen deconstructs preconceived notions about the delimited spaces of urban/rural, Black/white dichotomies, while enlarging the boundaries for Black writing, Black experience, and Black authority.

Zadie Smith’s Exploration of Experience as Authority

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What Zadie Smith does in showing a Kilburn girl located within the Wife of Bath’s voice of experience is to open up space for thinking through the particular authority—the particular value and, especially in the play’s conclusion, the particular forms of sexual justice—such experience offers.

A Layered History in DeMisty D. Bellinger’s New to Liberty

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DeMisty D. Bellinger’s new novel beautifully showcases the way history endures within us, and how while someone else’s past may influence our present moment, we still have agency.

Maggie Nelson’s Complication of Freedom

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In her 2021 book, Maggie Nelson comes to identify and appreciate freedom’s paradox—that true freedom comes with an understanding of limits, or an appreciation of the idea of constraint.

Oliver Sacks and the Narratives of Disability

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Oliver Sacks recognized that stories have a closer connection to the full complexity of the human condition than science. Nine years after the birth of my daughter, however, I realized that most existing narratives tell us more about cultural misconceptions of Down syndrome than providing a full, complex picture

Conversation in The Affirmations

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The poems in Luke Hathaway’s new collection demand attention, both with their often austere beauty and their rich and challenging depth of reference, but these poems contain so much conversation that it would feel strange to read the book in absolute isolation.

“Grief with animals isn’t the same, and we can learn something from that”: An Interview with Annie Hartnett

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By combining the voices of the dead with the experiences of the living, Annie Hartnett builds a sense of community. Her characters are not navigating hardships in isolation but with the support of family and friends, animals and the dead.

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.

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.

Imagination and Repetition in Chronic Illness Memoir

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The aesthetic project of chronic illness memoir is inescapably tied to its political project. Within the wider genre, we might discern a politics of repetition.