Essays Archives - The Millions

February 21, 2017

Against Readability 2

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“Readable” has become the chosen term of praise in our times precisely because so many of us find ourselves unable to concentrate as we once could or still aspire to. But to praise readability is to embrace the vicious feedback loop that our culture now finds itself in.

February 20, 2017

The Transcendent Power of Triangular Fiction 2

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I believe that fiction should work on at least three levels of interpretation: The personal, the conceptual, and the philosophical. In other words, the shape of the core of great works of fiction must be triangular — it must be emotional, cerebral, and sublime.

February 16, 2017

All Lit Up: Finding Style Advice in Classic Literature 0

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My innate interest in beauty was stoked by 20th-century literature and the captivating female characters who populate it.

February 15, 2017

Margaret Wise Brown and the Mystery of Mood 0

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Would folks who lulled their children to sleep with Goodnight Moon rest easy if they knew it birthed by a lesbian consciousness? Might they worry that Goodnight Moon could unconsciously shape a mood realm deep inside the child that might make him grow up gay?

February 14, 2017

How to Be Harrowing 1

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Writers like Amy Leach and Rebecca Solnit help me believe that the harrowing essay will not rule the day, and that writing that pays careful attention to the world and to language, tone, and metaphorical resonance can be equally powerful as and far more enduring than the personal essay with the most online shares.

February 13, 2017

Flying Blind: Truth, Journalism, and the Digital Age 0

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Without that truth-seeking ecosystem of healthy small- and mid-size daily newspapers to explain national news in terms local readers can understand, Americans are left stewing in separate echo chambers, one urban, educated, and liberal, the other working-class, rural, and spoiling for a fight.

February 10, 2017

Borges, Burgin, and Infinity 2

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None of his books of fiction got the attention that the Borges book did. But, he says with a smile, ‘I’ve never met a writer who feels like he or she got as much as they deserved.’

February 10, 2017

Write the Things That Burn: The Poems of Alejandra Pizarnik 0

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Pizarnik, whose ubiquity in 20th-century Latin-American literature is indicated by the fact that many critics refer to her simply as “Alejandra” or “A.P.,” has not, historically, been on a first-name basis with English-reading audiences

February 8, 2017

Checking Out: Dispatches From the Sea-Cave Suite and Elsewhere 0

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After a nice long think in the grotto shower, I resolved, once back on dry land, to conduct a survey of recent, or recently reissued, novels that make their home, so to speak, in hotels.

February 7, 2017

Lydia Davis and Jhumpa Lahiri Learn New Languages 3

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We’ve been searching texts for a connection to another person or community for more than 4,000 years. This is what Davis and Lahiri wanted. It is likely the reason why you are reading this right now. And in this desire for connection, every reader, across time and place, is intimately linked.