Irrational Authoritarianism: Ismail Kadare’s “The Traitor’s Niche”

In the figure of Tepelena, Kadare similarly captures the psychic burden tyranny imposes on the tyrant himself: an angry, jealous man, who seeks the love of his followers but finds himself fundamentally unloved, Tepelena is abandoned by everyone save his wife, Vasiliki, his sole companion and confidante during his dying hour. Yet when Kadare leads

Continue reading Irrational Authoritarianism: Ismail Kadare’s “The Traitor’s Niche”

Braving Every Storm: Lauren Groff’s “Florida”

Henry Prize Stories 2012, the narrator remains on her Florida acreage as a hurricane approaches even though the residents have been urged to evacuate. No matter what near-tragic circumstances confront them, however, they endure, survive, and even thrive, bolstered by optimism and tenacity. Night doesn’t just follow day, “time will leap forward and the night

Continue reading Braving Every Storm: Lauren Groff’s “Florida”

Teaching Rights Behind Bars

Arizona, the 1966 Supreme Court opinion that tried to set the rules for the interrogation of criminal suspects and their confessions. They were already branded as criminal material before they entered the interview room. Another detective comes in by prearrangement and screams at Thomas that he has to stop lying. Every member of our class

Continue reading Teaching Rights Behind Bars

From Hystorians to Bolex Dudes: The Many Descendants of Barbara Hammer

“Recently, I decided to call myself a ‘hystorian,’” Shy tells me. (1987). Titled 42 Butter Lane, the installation features interviews about the quotidian (wallpapering disagreements, anecdotes of homophobia) and shots of the survivor’s half-empty home. “I was born at a time when Shirley Temple was making more money than any other female in the United

Continue reading From Hystorians to Bolex Dudes: The Many Descendants of Barbara Hammer

The “Intellectual Dark Web” Is Nothing New

Peterson has been the most fervent promoter of this idea, having stated on countless occasions that the contemporary left derives its ideas and tactics from a combination of poststructuralism and Marxism concocted in the United States’s universities: a theory of class struggle reimagined as a fight to the death between ethnic, racial, and sexual identity

Continue reading The “Intellectual Dark Web” Is Nothing New

Literature Is the Minefield of the Imagination: An Interview with Gabriela Alemán

Because I thought the papers would be interested, I included a lot of “real” news in the novel — not just the elections but the fact that a lot of houses were falling down in the outskirts of Guayaquil, mostly due to the new port and the tonnage of the boats passing through. Working with

Continue reading Literature Is the Minefield of the Imagination: An Interview with Gabriela Alemán

A Holocaust in Slow Motion: On Kelly Lytle Hernández’s “City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, And The Rise Of Human Caging In Los Angeles, 1771-1965”

Certain books put me in mind of Le Guin’s woke utopians, people who, having seen the cost of their privilege, find they must refuse it. The chapter “Justice for Sam Faulkner” might have been ripped from today’s headlines. Without being tendentious or preachy, it exposes the vast structural inequalities that undergird our society. In the

Continue reading A Holocaust in Slow Motion: On Kelly Lytle Hernández’s “City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, And The Rise Of Human Caging In Los Angeles, 1771-1965”

On Feeling One’s Way: David Russell’s “Tact”

Complicating the conventional view of Arnold as a “top-down” liberal thinker and social reformer, Russell argues that he saw education as an open-ended practice: “His model of education is not the cultivation of a parental elite who might diffuse knowledge; it is based rather in the diffusion of the conditions of an invigorating creativity in

Continue reading On Feeling One’s Way: David Russell’s “Tact”

As Long as You Stay Alive There’s Hope: An Interview with Aline Kominsky-Crumb

I noticed, in rereading your work in this new form, that there were several stories throughout the book that touched on issues of grief. Alison Bechdel’s work is a Broadway show, and Lena Dunham’s work seems like it could have been influenced by early comics. And I worked on that a lot. I was very

Continue reading As Long as You Stay Alive There’s Hope: An Interview with Aline Kominsky-Crumb