Memoir & Essay

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The Savage Desire to Know More: On Ben Watt

The Savage Desire to Know More: On Ben Watt

IN HIS INDISPENSABLE INTRODUCTION to The Art of the Personal Essay, Phillip Lopate warns against “unproblematically self-assured, self-contained, self-satisfied” essayists who produce shallow, sug...

An Essayist of the Old School

An Essayist of the Old School

I ONCE HEARD poet Seamus Heaney and his wife, Marie, elaborating a droll array of distinctions between kinds of drinkers at parties. So and so — they looked cautiously around for effect — was a ...

Ghost Race

Ghost Race

SPORTS, psychologists have long understood, are like languages. If exposed as children we acquire native fluency, and the laborious, complex movements required for swimming or ice-skating or horseback...

Karl Ove Knausgaard, Himself

Karl Ove Knausgaard, Himself

MEETING KARL OVE KNAUSGAARD is not like meeting other people. It isn’t even like meeting other writers. For one thing, he is taller and handsomer than most, with a sincerity that he wears lightly. ...

Disney, Autism, and Whatever Works

Disney, Autism, and Whatever Works

MY SON HENRY, who is six and has Down syndrome, has been a fan of the Muppets for most of his life. When we let him, he’ll watch Muppet Show DVDs for hours at a time. He can recite entire sketches w...

Like Children

Like Children

Why do we desire to die so much?Because we desire to say so much.       — Hélène Cixous, Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing […] when the scriptures say that “they were both naked, and ...

Los Angeles Plays Itself, or Sunshine and Noir

Los Angeles Plays Itself, or Sunshine and Noir

BY MOST ACCOUNTS, it was a beautiful day in Los Angeles, one of those sun-drenched afternoons that have always enchanted the city’s filmmakers. There was something equally cinematic about the car ch...

How to Be a Mother

How to Be a Mother

BY SPRING of my internship year I was exhausted, I’d gained 10 pounds, and my periods had stopped. I assumed that months of 36-hour hospital shifts fueled by coffee and vending machine candy had fin...

Cremains of the Day

Cremains of the Day

IN AN ODD COINCIDENCE, I began reading Roz Chast’s visual memoir about her aging parents on the 20th anniversary of my father’s death. I thought I knew what to expect from Chast, having viewed mor...

Blake Bailey’s Splendid Things

Blake Bailey’s Splendid Things

“LOOK, it’s my misery that I have to paint this kind of painting, it’s your misery that you have to love it,” said the abstract expressionist Mark Rothko, underscoring the cruel bond between t...