Fiction

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Ephemeral Epiphanies

Ephemeral Epiphanies

“HE TRAVELLED.” So begins the famously brief passage from Sentimental Education in which Gustave Flaubert condenses a decade and a half of his hero’s life into a few sentences. During that time,...

When New York Erupted

When New York Erupted

ON MONDAY, April 15, 2013, I woke up from a nap to discover that a bomb had gone off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, four miles from where I had been sleeping in Allston. Then, on Friday mo...

The Pathologies of Organized Violence

The Pathologies of Organized Violence

THE “CAINE PRIZE AESTHETIC,” according to Helon Habila, is a kind of literary pathology to produce works of writing that fixate on all that ails Africa: poverty, wars, child soldiers, rape, bloods...

A Historical Nullity You Need to Read About

A Historical Nullity You Need to Read About

IN HIS FAMOUS PAINTING Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, Pieter Bruegel the Elder depicts Icarus’ legendary fall as a background occurrence while the attention is focused on a farmer with his plow,...

Beautiful Lies

Beautiful Lies

CONFRONTING HARD TRUTHS is something author Joy Castro does especially well. Her 2005 memoir, The Truth Book, offers a searing indictment of the author’s strict upbringing as a Jehovah’s Witness, ...

The Melancholy of Patrick Modiano

The Melancholy of Patrick Modiano

IN 2014, FRENCH AUTHOR Patrick Modiano was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature “for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of ...

E. L. Doctorow’s Postmodernist Style

E. L. Doctorow’s Postmodernist Style

THE RECENT DEATH of E. L. Doctorow, on July 21, 2015, at the age of 84, provoked a notably warm and widespread response. Lengthy obituaries were printed in all the major newspapers, and tributes flowe...

Why We Read

Why We Read

IN MY NEW APARTMENT I only had books. Just me, my dog, and 500 books. It was Craigslist that gave me a renewed faith in humanity. I drove to homes in the Hollywood Hills eager for a table and bench, ...

Love Is Not Enough

Love Is Not Enough

HANYA YANAGIHARA’S second novel, A Little Life, features a photo on its cover, a black-and-white close-up of a handsome man who resembles James Franco (but is not). His eyes are closed, squinted tig...

Adrift Between Adults: New Stories by Ann Beattie

Adrift Between Adults: New Stories by Ann Beattie

WHEN I LEFT COLLEGE to study abroad in Paris in 2001, I packed a 1975 issue of the New Yorker, which featured Ann Beattie’s story “Snakes’ Shoes.” I figured Beattie would punctuate my planned ...

The Thief, The Friend, His Wife, and Her Lover

The Thief, The Friend, His Wife, and Her Lover

The power and completeness of all human systems must be continually tested […] at the risk of freedom, of life. — Saul Bellow, Herzog   IS THERE ANYTHING as squalid as an affair? How a...