Essays

February 1, 2013

Peeling Back the Oprah Seal: Ayana Mathis’s Twelve Tribes of Hattie 8

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It is high time defenders of American literary fiction cut Oprah Winfrey a break.

January 28, 2013

Bad Metaphors, Bad Tech 12

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It’s not always technical walls that stop change in its tracks. Sometimes, innovation is limited by language itself. When metaphors start to die, or when we forget that they’re only tools, they can become some of the most powerful forces against innovation.

January 18, 2013

Letters in the Wind: A Writer’s Evolution 7

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I realized that my writing at age 28 was a lot like my golf game as a teenager: a single gust of wind and it went to Hell.

January 17, 2013

A Calm Place to Think: On Reading the Classics 22

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Reading offers us something quite rare — a quiet, solitary activity that allows us to clear a little space in our minds. This feels especially true in the context of my own daily habits, which involve spending an extraordinary amount of time online, a decidedly noisy, un-solitary environment that encourages the reader to respond — through retweeting, commenting, or “liking” — as opposed to reflecting.

January 15, 2013

Why Are We Still Reading About Vietnam? Kill Anything That Moves by Nick Turse 6

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Kill Anything That Moves should be required reading in every school, military academy and governmental office in the land. Not that it will stop us from blundering into the next war.

January 9, 2013

Jeffrey Eugenides’s Killer Advice 16

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What exactly is Eugenides’ “absurdly good advice,” and is it, upon further reflection, in fact “fucking excellent”?

January 8, 2013

Laugh, and The Book Club Laughs With You 19

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Has motherhood made us incapable of putting literary tragedy in its proper perspective? Or are we just…tired?

January 3, 2013

My New Year’s Resolution: Read Fewer Books 51

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I’m a genius, I’ve been quietly telling myself for the past 13 years, and nobody even knows it.

January 2, 2013

The Obscure Early Lives of the Artists 5

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It turns out that if you want to stalk Harper Lee, you have to bring serious A game: the last person to do it rented the house next door — it was on the market.

December 28, 2012

Flowers in the Desert: Patrick White at 100 5

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As the 20th century finishes receding, we will have to interrogate its artistic legacies and decide which few to carry with us further into the 21st, rescuing them from the Flood that will wash the rest away. Patrick White should be among these few.