Not Not Realism: On André Gide’s “Marshlands”

Maybe this is because “his time” is so confused, so indeterminate; our historical categories prefer to compute it as three or four times, at minimum two. The complications of metanarrative and metafiction follow: is Marshlands (the narrator’s book), the same text as Marshlands (the book we are reading)? The chapter opens with a bit of

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Pandemic Death Narratives of Mexico and the United States

These ritualized narrative celebrations also help participants recall, understand, and endure past and present anguish. […] To the Mexican it consists in being the fruit of a violation” — as in rape. The United States’s death narrative is a plot line of racist violence that is easily, purposely forgotten by mainstream America. Encircling a planter

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“On the Road,” Again

He certainly wasn’t the first writer to promote that dubious doctrine, but it was with the Beats that the often-perilous line between art and life was crossed most willfully. In the late 1940s — decades before the conveyor belt of consumer youth culture had been firmly laid in place — bohemia was a strange, shadowy,

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Yarrow Is Yarrow

The ghost of the Spanish Empire still hovers over the spot that was an outpost of New Spain until 1821. She encouraged women to think of their futures, their voices. I’ll find out if her husband served his country by reporting on South American politics in a way that beat back communism, laying the seeds

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Contrasting Interiors: Christine Smallwood’s “Life of the Mind” and Sara Davis’s “Scapegoat”

The narrator, N, leaves his laboratory job to investigate the circumstances of his estranged father’s death, which is clouded in uncertainties of history, identity, and reality. Sara shares how she approached writing such a challenging and rewarding work. Contrasting Interiors: Christine Smallwood’s “Life of the Mind” and Sara Davis’s “Scapegoat” By LARB AV –  March 12, 2021

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Data Mining for Humanists

(Knowing that they’ve been punished with multimillion-dollar fines in some cases isn’t much consolation.) Some have used interactive dolls to effectively subject young children to surveillance. I’ll take his word for that, but I wouldn’t bet that a fiendish lightbulb didn’t eventually go off in Mark Zuckerberg’s head after he had amassed trillions of user

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The Limits of Clean Lines: On Jordan Peterson’s “Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life”

Peterson offers a guide with some helpful advice that, like the rules of kashrut, also declares a lot of life to be out of bounds. And because those who defend them sometimes do so without an honest reckoning with their shortcomings. This is a startlingly benign view of power. One of Peterson’s subchapters is titled

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Vibrant Voices

The key role of tradition — both ancient and modern — is invoked by Matt Sedillo, literary director of the dA Center for the Arts in Pomona. After a five-year court battle, Judge Wallace Tashima ruled the ban unconstitutional in 2017. When Socorro, a “Good Daughter,” tries to decide if she should yield to her

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Revenge Against Revenge: Biden’s Revenge Politics and “The Cure at Troy”

They were first uttered in a political context in the inaugural address of iconic Irish president Mary Robinson, whose election of 1990 certainly felt like a “great sea-change” of modernity, liberalism, and peace in a country hitherto benighted by postcolonial melancholia, conservative and Catholic reaction, and never-ending conflict. The poem begins: Human beings suffer, They

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Glorious Cultural Promiscuity

A truly global civilization would be a grandly, uncontrollably fertile chaos, and it is a far more elevating object of political and cultural longing than either the sterile, banalizing spectacle of neoliberal market globalism or the degenerate mythology of blood and soil nationalism (or “national conservatism,” or the “new integralism,” or whatever else it calls

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