Essays Archives - The Millions

June 27, 2017

Doctors, Harp Lies, and Trump Talk 0

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On one afternoon, I saw four consecutive patients with no history of hypertension who all posted blood pressure recordings above standard values. Each blamed our recent banter about Donald Trump.

June 26, 2017

American Myth: The Short, Beautiful Life of Breece D’J Pancake 14

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The best American writer of his generation would have been sixty-five this week.

June 23, 2017

The Golden Arches of Nostalgia 2

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We’d walk into a McDonald’s and smell the familiar fried food and order the same burger and French fries and I’d taste the idea of home on my tongue. I would awake to the realization that this taste could be home.

June 21, 2017

How David Shields Turned Me Into a U.F.O. 2

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This is not a knock on Shields—or me—because all writers are free to choose their subject matter and use their source material as they see fit.

June 19, 2017

Returning to My People: Reading Tayeb Salih in the Suburbs 1

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In the same finished basement in the northern Virginia home where I spent so much of my childhood—playing eight-bit video games at sleepovers, sneaking down to watch soft-core cable porn, sitting at an electric typewriter and writing absurdist stories about my classmates—my father now hosts monthly book club meetings with his Sudanese friends.

June 16, 2017

Men in Small Rooms: In Search of Dad Lit 1

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I’m a man performing a role that gets coded as feminine, and I might be assuaging my insecurities about occupying such a marginalized position by spinning elaborate fantasies of masculine intellect and profundity.

June 15, 2017

How a Witch Cured My Writerly Envy 1

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The witch stood up and let out a piercing whistle while fervently shaking a gourd rattle, which I first mistook for a maraca. As she spoke, her voice changed, become low and growling and beautifully theatrical.

June 14, 2017

The Feel-Good Feminism of ‘Even Cowgirls Get the Blues’ 3

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Sissy Hankshaw is built up, then taken down.  She is normalized, de-sexualized, tamed.  Sissy starts out a revolutionary and ends up a fantasy—tamed by Tom Robbins.

June 14, 2017

Revisiting the Wild Mind of Kenneth Patchen 0

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It’s Patchen’s ambition to make us all look like animals, and disarming the semblance of any known structure of narrative is an essential part of this dizzying quest.

June 9, 2017

Armchair Traveling Across the Russias 1

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During my graduate studies at Oxford, I became friends with a group of people of Waughian tendencies, Russophiles to whom admitting that you spoke no Russian and had not ridden the Trans-Siberian Railway made you a pariah.