Essays

March 4, 2009

The Millions Conversation: M.T. Anderson’s Octavian Nothing (Part Two) 1

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This winter, Millions contributors Emily Colette Wilkinson and Garth Risk Hallberg both happened to pick up the M.T. Anderson’s The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation. Via email, we conducted a bicoastal conversation about Octavian Nothing, Volume I: The Pox Party, which we’re sharing with you this week in three installments. Part […]

March 3, 2009

Thinking of a Dream I Had: The “Formative Novel” 7

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So, it’s the early hours of the morning and I’m fast asleep. I dream the following: I’m in an empty restaurant, deep in conversation with someone I’d never met before. Even in the dream, this person is meant to be a stranger – a Millions reader named Oliver. (I had recently watched a new BBC […]

March 3, 2009

The Millions Conversation: M.T. Anderson’s Octavian Nothing (Part One) 7

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This winter, Millions contributors Emily Colette Wilkinson and Garth Risk Hallberg both happened to pick up the first volume of M.T. Anderson’s The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation. This 2006 novel was a National Book Award winner and a New York Times Bestseller. However, the literary-industrial complex hasn’t given Anderson the […]

February 26, 2009

Baseball Oasis: A Story of Chicago’s Winnemac Park 1

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I wrote the following piece in 2005 when I was in graduate school in Chicago. It was fun to research and write, but I never had the opportunity to do anything with it. However, with baseball season just around the corner, and this correspondent already getting excited, it seemed like a reasonable moment to dust […]

February 19, 2009

The Rise and Fall of the Baltimore Examiner 14

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Sara Michael is a Baltimore-based writer who spent two and a half years as a reporter for the Baltimore Examiner, most recently covering health and science. She has also covered technology for a national trade magazine, and earned her master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School at Northwestern University. For more on Sara and […]

February 18, 2009

Mary, Je T’Aime: Literary Portraits 12

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Like more conventional forms of romance, the first great literary love of my life began with a look. Young readers of Playboy have similar experiences, I believe, with centerfolds: a precise moment – the turning of a page to reveal a face (more likely a body) that haunts the young man for the rest of […]

February 16, 2009

Diagramming the Obama Sentence 55

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In a Slate piece published back in the fall, Kitty Burns Florey took on the unenviable task of diagramming the utterances of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Florey, the author of Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog, clearly has a unusual predilection for sentence diagramming (which I’m pretty sure the Army Field Manual prohibits as a form […]

February 10, 2009

A Girl’s Guide to Becoming an Intellectual: Susan Sontag’s Journals 3

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There’s an abundance of literature that tells teenage girls, as well as some of us older ones too, “how to.” Within, she discovers what makes guys tick, how to tame unruly skin, and lessons on looking good. Image, image everywhere, and this no doubt is practiced and perfected within her Facebook profile, and among her […]

January 26, 2009

Willa Cather, the Greatest American Novelist? 6

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I’ve sampled Willa Cather recently after a knowledgeable friend suggested she might be a sleeper candidate for the greatest American novelist. Well, after reading My Antonia and The Professor’s House I have to say, I don’t see it. There are particular things about both books that did not grab me, but to sum up my […]

January 22, 2009

Culture and Vigilance: Look for the Whimper, Not the Bang 3

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As media business models falter, from The New York Times to the big book publishers, the calamity that seems to have overtaken the public imagination is one of sudden extinction. In Michael Hirschorn’s “what if” piece in the Atlantic Monthly, he asks, But what if the old media dies much more quickly? What if a […]