Essays

January 21, 2015

It’s Not You, It’s Us: Apartment Hunting in Brooklyn 20

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I couldn’t really picture myself living here. But I tried anyway. I had a premonition of standing in the middle of a pretty-decent sized kitchen, sautéing garlic shrimp for my blow-up girlfriend.

January 20, 2015

Is ‘Jesus’ Son’ a ‘Red Cavalry’ Rip-Off? 2

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What does Denis Johnson mean by calling his most iconic book a “rip-off” of Red Cavalry? In terms of locations and circumstances, the books are radically different. But, on closer look, they actually do share a lot in common.

January 20, 2015

A World Made of Words: On Anthony Doerr’s Nouns and Verbs 17

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Twenty-one words, three simple clauses, and wham, you are there.

January 14, 2015

Biography: The Incredible Expanding Form 3

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Nowadays, human beings are no longer the sole suitable subjects for a biography, which is coming to mean an account of just about anything’s life, or history, or essence.

January 14, 2015

You’re (Not) My Favorite 10

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Favorites — either being them or having them — were for suckers. Favorites were out.

January 9, 2015

Glad Hall: On the Cycles of Home 2

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Houses hold memories — even if not all of them are good ones. They hold the life of a family — its beginnings, its end.

January 7, 2015

Alive with Disagreement and Dissent: On A.O. Scott, Politics, and Art 3

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It is natural to hope, even if that hope is somewhat against the weight of experience, that artists can light the path ahead.

November 27, 2014

Gestation of Ideas: On Vertical Writing and Living 16

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I am not a writer first. I have a family, and without them I would have little reason to want to write — or to do anything else. My desire to create is held in silence during the day, so that my literary moments can be focused and absolute.

November 26, 2014

The Impediments of Style: Advice from Steven Pinker and the CIA 1

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Pinker is on a mission to remove the heckling usage purists from the back of the linguistics classroom.

November 24, 2014

Marilynne Robinson’s Singular Vision 3

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In my experience, there are two types of Marilynne Robinson readers: ‘Housekeeping’ people and ‘Gilead’ people.