Books

Alice Munro: A Finale?

Alice Munro has pleaded retirement a handful of times in recent years, and with her new short story collection Dear Life: Stories, she told The New Yorker she thinks it’s for real. At eighty-one years old, Canada’s…

Don’t Let Me Be Lonely

I’ve seen these women before. At coffee shop tables, writing in notebooks and dreaming out the windows, an almost magisterial aloneness about them. My hand locked around a glass of beer, I’ve stared longingly through smoke-filled…

Winter Journal: A Paul Austerpiece

Reading the work of Paul Auster is like reading a translation—you get the feeling that some harried American interlocutor is working hard behind the scenes to render the prose intelligible, while preserving something of its foreign…

More Than Mere Oblivion

Peter Selgin has published an award-winning collection of short fiction, a novel, a memoir, a wide range of essays, and two books on craft. His work has been featured in Best American Essays and Glimmer Train, and he currently teaches creative…

YOLO: On The Road With Davy Rothbart

Davy Rothbart is a likeable guy. He’s passionate, tolerant, down for whatever. Throughout his new collection of essays, My Heart Is An Idiot, Rothbart roams the land, searching for love, sex, experience, feeling, and connection. The…

All Talk

Four years back, while visiting the University of Florida to check out their MFA program, I had the opportunity to meet the novelist Padgett Powell, who teaches fiction there. I did not make good on this…

Monsters in Moon Mountains

The protagonist of I. J. Kay’s debut novel, Mountains of the Moon, is an Englishwoman named Louise (Lulu) Alder. Or Kim Hunter, Beverley Woods, Jackie Birch, Dawn Redwood, Catherine Clark; some of her names are aliases…

Faith and the Follow-Up

Christopher Beha’s debut, What Happened to Sophie Wilder (WHTSW) could have been the worst kind of novel. That’s because it is, at its most reductive, a novel about novels; a story about writing, told by writers.…

Relative Weakness

The title of Zadie Smith’s new novel NW refers to North West London, an area encompassing the likes of both Regent’s Park and council estates, large projects of public housing from which the central characters of…

The Major Fall, the Minor Lift

Elissa Schappell’s Blueprints for Building Better Girls is a collection of loosely connected short stories, each devoted to the dissembling of a certain female archetype: the high school slut, the college party girl, the wife struggling…

Virtual Intimacy and the New Literature

I think there are two types of people: those whose central narratives are interior, and those whose are exterior; those whose daily triumphs and despairs stem from thought or emotion, and those who glean meaning from…

Jay Caspian Kang’s Super Funny True Noir Story

The specter of Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho looms over Jay Caspian Kang’s excellent first novel, The Dead Do Not Improve. One of Kang’s two protagonists, Philip Kim, says that because Cho was Asian—the main detail…

The End of the World as We Know It

Everyone loves an apocalypse. Whether in the context of religion, science, cult theories, books, movies, TV, psychosis, or just old-fashioned paranoia, we always seem to be telling ourselves that we’re approaching complete and certain annihilation. We…