May 20, 2015

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


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


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


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


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


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.

May 5, 2015

Before You Start: Introductions, Forewords, and Prefaces 2


A preface is an ars poetica for a book, for a literary life. A preface often feels like the writer sitting across the table from the reader, and saying, listen, now I am going to tell you the truth.

May 4, 2015

High Style and Desperate Love: On the Life and Work of Eileen Chang 5


Chinese readers can’t forget her; most Western readers have never met her. This year, on the 20th anniversary of her death, the NYRB edition of Chang’s Naked Earth provides an opportunity for new readers to fall in love.

April 27, 2015

The Value of Writing Programs: On Why I Don’t Have an M.F.A. 27


The question shouldn’t be whether or not getting an M.F.A. is a worthwhile for those privileged enough to agonize over the cost. Instead we should ask: how can we better support people who want to write?

April 21, 2015

Creating the Literary World of the Future: A Response to VIDA’s Recommendations 11


The message that what women are writing isn’t important or serious enough is not a new one. It is as old as literature itself. And its persistence has everything to do with how women’s literature is treated in college and university classrooms and, in turn, how it is treated in the literary world.

April 20, 2015

The Uneasy Woman: Meghan Daum, Kate Bolick, and the Legacy of Ida Tarbell 2


How should a female person be? The question occupied hundreds of printed pages a century ago and still does today.