Fiction About Fiction

But Martin evokes the cliché-ridden speech of Peter’s group without surrendering to it, even as they say things like “[s]omeone could fucking cure cancer with the time I’ve spent stoned and thinking about, like, the ideal character-defining gesture” (or better: “Mason drank a lot. Julia enters a fugue-like state and works on her epic poem

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The Storytelling Sorcery of Super Short Fiction in “New Micro”

She manages LARB’s social media. Some stories in the collection display too clearly the machinations of the author’s hand — a danger, perhaps, of a form with such formal limitations. Perhaps with the weight of a longer story behind it, this insight would sound sanctimonious. Even with its strict formal requirement, New Micro covers more

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The Form of the Small Life: Karl Ove Knausgaard’s “My Struggle: Book Six”

or Ms. I’m not independent enough. And how does My Struggle reach its conclusion? Nancy Milford’s biography of Zelda Fitzgerald began a thriving tradition of presenting the wives or partners of male writers as victims of their husbands’ success — and just as often, as the ones who made that success possible. Hitler explained it

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Color Matters

Albers was interested in what we can learn in the “interaction of color,” in “what happens between colors,” in how we understand colors in relation to one another. Understanding these global differences enables us to reflect upon the significance of green locally alongside the “promiscuity” of political color. A dear college friend of mine used

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Confessions of a Left-Conservative: Norman Mailer in the Library of America

In his prose and in his public life, Norman Mailer was not a man who took measured steps. Like “Superman,” it shows a writer at the top of his craft, setting the stage, positioning the players (each perfectly drawn, even minor characters barely remembered by history), with keen, seasoned eyes trained to see through the

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All the Thrills Without the Terror: On “Crossing Borders: Stories and Essays about Translation”

In its coy whimsicality and its subversive deployment of linguistic principles, it becomes — in just over six pages — a text that can easily support many readings and ideas. I’d love to see Crossing Borders 2.0. In spite of that, we persist, because translation is a life-enriching opportunity to enter a community of peers

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An Unwelcome Brother

The hell of it is that this anti-humanist zealot was given legal authority to personally search out and destroy printers’ stocks of “lewd” material, to literally burn “offensive” books by the thousands, to enter galleries and demand that “obscene” artworks be taken down under threat of prosecution (Comstock once issued such an order to a

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Reclaiming Power Through Humanity: On Michelle McNamara and “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark”

Potential leads poured in as the crimes and victims received much more press over the next years — including a 2013 piece in Los Angeles Magazine written by McNamara herself that would become the basis for I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. Hayne and Jensen’s editorial asides about Michelle McNamara’s revised opinions and tentative hypotheses

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One Life at a Time: A Conversation with Dr. Daniel Baxter

By the time I arrived in Botswana, approximately six months after the first patients started treatment, the country was awash with Westerners who were ostensibly there to help its fledgling Treatment Programme. As reports of strange and fatal infections percolated down to my private practice in Iowa, I tried to learn as much as possible

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“A More Beautiful and Terrible History” Corrects the Fables Told of the Civil Rights Movement

I like that you used the word “fable” to describe the stories we’re fed about the Civil Rights movement. One judge found the mothers guilty. Times doing that. How do we honor social justice leaders without depoliticizing them? Since living here, a number of them are surprised by the racism — both overt and systematic.

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