“The Pull of the Great Wrong World”: On Lidia Yuknavitch’s “Verge”
In Verge’s stories, Yuknavitch marshals her considerable talents and well-documented experiences—as a survivor of abuse, a recovering addict, and a self-proclaimed “misfit” (her pride in this appellation forming the basis of a famous TED talk and book, The Misfit’s Manifesto)—in service of illuminating the lives of women on the margins.
It’s the End of the World as We Know It: The Amateurs Offers a Glimpse of Life After the Apocalypse
How do you start over when the world ends? There doesn’t have to be an apocalypse for life as you know it to tilt. These days, we wake up to headlines that read from a dystopian novel. And The Amateurs, the debut novel by Liz Harmer, has something to say to those who shelter in place about staying put, about love, and also about letting go.
Young Adults on the Rise: On Natalia Sylvester’s “Running”
Running’s greatest strength is Mari’s trajectory from observer to partaker in her realization that, even as a young teen, she can make a difference.
The Shadowless Gravedigger: On Victoria Chang’s “Obit”
The prose poems and tankas in Victoria Chang’s Obit are less traditional elegies than a series of verbal proofs through which Chang investigates those aspects of experience––grief, pain, love––that seem beyond our capacity to represent them. “Language fails us” more than once in this collection (it gets three obituaries of its own), and yet words are what the speaker of these poems must use both “to calculate my grief” and to convey it. These poems’ generous, meticulous record of grieving is inseparable from Chang’s retooling of poetic form and language.
The Heart’s Home is a Trojan Horse: On Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s “Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory”
A good writer drops readers miles from where they expected; great ones like Raphael Bob-Waksberg take readers just where they want to go, but when they arrive, the landscape doesn’t look how they remember.
Review: “The Anti-Grief” by Marianne Boruch
Choosing to remember the whole truth—with all of its unsavory details—is therefore not only a personal but also a political act, a rejection of the sort of selective, melodramatic remembering that is the lifeblood of nationalism.
The Seas: An Experience in Madness
The continual undercurrent of her inability to see properly, the sense that she believes it is love that is clouding her vision, brings me to understand more clearly the dissonance of the narration, that I only see what she can see, and what she sees is distorted by her own mental unstableness and by the reality which I know: that love and grief cloud my vision, that when I am swimming and open my eyes, my sight is blurry. What I think I see may be altogether different than what actually exists.
“Navigating an Inward World”: On Laura Villareal’s “The Cartography of Sleep”
The Cartography of Sleep is a visionary, cerebral chapbook. . . . Villareal is a master of making the strange seem beautiful with rich language and a hypnotic style.