Essays

June 1, 2015

Game Six: On the Sport of Writing 3

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Can every writer be a Nicholson Baker? Can every athlete be an Isiah Thomas? I don’t know. But what I can say is that in both the athletic and literary worlds, interested parties find themselves asking whether the ratio for a successful career skews more toward aptitude or labor.

May 28, 2015

Mourning, Meaning, and Moving On: Life After ‘Mad Men’ 4

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We know that we became absorbed, that we experienced great pleasure in watching, and that we couldn’t wait for each new season to begin. We know, or feel at least, that we have participated in something significant, a cultural moment. But what I want to know now, or try to know, is this: Is it art?

May 27, 2015

Let Me Think About It: On Recommending Books 15

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“Got any good books to recommend?” For me, the equivalent of a politician’s “gotcha” question.

May 26, 2015

Floridapocalypse: The End of the Sunshine State 4

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Some of the most exciting works in the canon of “Floridapocalyptic” writing are not necessarily warnings about natural disasters and tropical storms. The four works below are more imaginative takes on the state’s doom, each offering a glimpse into yet another way that night could fall on the Sunshine State.

May 21, 2015

Sheep Lit: On Writing (and Reading) About the Lives of Shepherds 1

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Writing about sheep is a thread that twists through 20th-century explorations of the British landscape, and one that I have become eager to unravel.

May 20, 2015

Trouble Using Light: The Complications of Art in the Fiction of Christine Sneed 0

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Sneed offers, with quiet confidence, her characters’ increasing complexities. People, like the best art, deserve more than one interpretation. There is little black and white contrast in Sneed’s work, and she lingers in every gradation of shade in between, as if gray were a full palette of color.

May 18, 2015

Powers of Three: On the Tricolonic Title 3

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The human mind obviously enjoys lists, and the well-deployed tricolonic title can constitute a powerfully compressed narrative that raises questions only answerable by consuming the cultural object in question.

May 14, 2015

A Girl and Her Books: On the Loss of Sweet Briar College 8

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Sofia could live her entire life in a library and never be tired of books, of the smell of ink on paper, the weight of a book in her hand, or the things you learn in their pages.

May 14, 2015

Breakfast: A Love Story 3

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Literature and breakfast are both slow arts. Early morning arts that unfold while the world is still groggy and optimistic.

May 8, 2015

All the Years Ahead: On Committing Literary Suicide 5

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Killing one’s self is a hell of an occupational hazard. But I’ve come to believe that writing can also be a way to resist suicide.