March 4, 2015

An Infinite Maze: On the Many Voices of the Dublin Murder Squad 2


These novels generate vertiginous thrills as they dramatize the difficulties of understanding ourselves, other people, and the world at large.

March 3, 2015

Fixed by Camel: On Gender, Books, and Children 0


Imposing my version of gender, my preference for skepticism and nonconformity, isn’t any more appropriate or healthy than forcing him into army fatigue onesies or calling him “Daddy’s Big Guy.”

February 23, 2015

The Art of the Final Sentence 12


For writers, the last sentences aren’t about reader responsibility at all — it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to stop worrying about what comes next, because nothing does. No more keeping the reader interested, no more wariness over giving the game away. This is the best time for a writer to get real, to depict reality as they see it, without compromises, without fear.

February 18, 2015

The Art of the Chapter 6


You want to know how weird and deep my rabbit hole goes? I’ve developed what I’ll call an eccentricity about chapters.

February 17, 2015

Forty for 40: A Literary Reader for Lent 5


Lent is the most literary season of the liturgical year. The Lenten narrative is marked by violence, suffering, anticipation, and finally, joy. Here is a literary reader for Lent: 40 stories, poems, essays, and books for the 40 days of this season.

February 10, 2015

Let Us Now Praise Authors, Artists, Dilettantes, and Drunks 2


I ask myself, in what Kyoto bar might a fellow literary pilgrim relate to me the praiseworthy sexual longevity of one of Japan’s great dilettante artists?

February 5, 2015

An Emotional History of Chocolate 2


Like the ocean closing over Manhattan or countrywide droughts, a world where chocolate is entirely rare — or entirely mediocre — is a dystopia the likes of which we can scarcely conceive.

February 3, 2015

An Eye to the Edges: On Other Stories 0


It’s frustrating sometimes, for many of us, to be reminded of the stories that matter apart from our own and that we might be complicit in pushing them out to the margins.

February 2, 2015

Honey, Would You Read My Book? 3


The transaction is fraught with expectation and fear, hope and anxiety. If it goes badly, the simple offer of pages to read can shake relationships, unsettle marriages, and open wide rifts between partners, lovers, friends.

January 27, 2015

Born Out of Rapt Distraction: On Silvina Ocampo’s ‘Thus Were Their Faces’ 1


On a moment-to-moment basis the terms of the continued existence of any individual are far more fragile than we dare to feel.