The True Cost of Labor

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It is well understood by now the heavy toll that coal mining takes on geographic landscapes, their local populations, and the climate, despite practices of environmental remediation. There is also, however, another toll that mining takes—that all labor takes—on our individual bodies and lives.

Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head’s Language of the Body

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Via the body, Warsan Shire wrenches us into sensuous and traumatic narratives that express hunger for love, rage at violation, the turmoil of illness, and an exquisite wish for restoration.

The Entanglement of Church and Family in Revival Season

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Monica West's debut novel exposes the inevitable risks and losses that come along with disentanglement from family and church structures. Her protagonist's strength, coming-into-power, and voice are compelling, but they are costly.

“People are messy. What does it even mean to be likable?”: An Interview with Kristen Arnett

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Much of Kristen Arnett’s second novel is about how we craft our stories to fit our needs, especially when we feel trapped, or frightened.

The Agency of Men in The Atmospherians and How to Kidnap the Rich

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In the world of fiction, as opposed to the real world and its assumed male passiveness, men must make choices; they are not victims, but the owners of their mistakes.

The Liminality of Life and Death in Seán Ó Ríordáin’s Poetry

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Poetry as life and death—may I term this struggle as survival? Seán Ó Ríordáin, the Irish poet whose oeuvre elucidates this limbo, looks no further than to the interaction of light with dark to explain this compulsion for the letter as both cure and curse.

Making Men and Myths in Mario Vargas Llosa’s The Storyteller

Storytelling is foundational to our concept of ourselves, with personal narratives—those we speak aloud and those we tell to only ourselves—defining the shape of our lives and casting us in various roles as circumstances demand: champion or victim, villain or avenger.

Bernadette Mayer’s Deconstructed Sonnets

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As formalism in poetry and the expectations around gender and family structure have evolved, so have poets’ treatment of it. Bernadette Mayer's 1989 collection repurposes the idea of the volta in experimental sonnets to demonstrate that clear resolution in life rarely exists, especially in matters of love and relationship.

The Destruction of the World in Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

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Olga Tokarczuk’s newly translated novel has been marketed as a murder mystery, albeit a strange one. It is that, partly, but underneath the whodunit is another novel: one about how our obsession with usefulness leads to greed, and the devastating impact of both on the environment.

The Tradition of Storytelling in Something Unbelievable

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Over the course of Maria Kuznetsova’s second novel, out next week, we switch back and forth between the perspectives of a woman and her grandmother. In the process, we begin to understand how tightly the two women are connected, even as the lives they live are vastly different, and