The imaginative artist, who carries the resources of the poet and the psychic in his trick bag, is compelled to impose more variations on the real, whether past or present: lying, as Ralph Ellison once said, to get to the truth. It's through such bold wanderings through the American subconscious that African American writers such as Jeffery Renard Allen strengthen autonomy over the depictions of their own past.
Ariel Schrag, now in her mid-thirties, has been a force in gay pop culture since she was fourteen. A prolific cartoonist, she started publishing her own autobiographical comic-book series, Awkward, her freshman year at Berkeley High, in 1995. Schrag produced a differently titled comic-book series
Sonallah Ibrahim’s novel Stealth begins with a mundane scene that captures the particular, weighty tedium of everyday life in Cairo: My father stops for a second at the door to the house before we step into the alley. He raises his hand to his mouth, twisting the
When Anna Brundage, the heroine of Stacey D’Erasmo’s Wonderland, was three years old, her father sawed a train in half and pushed it over a cliff. It was 1972, and the art world was rocked: Critics declared that he had reinvented sculpture. A postcard of the gored, upended car became a dependable
Writing, like life, is a series of choices. Which word here, there; when to stop? Like Proust, whom she has translated, Lydia Davis writes the act of writing itself. It's not just that her narrators tend to be teachers or authors, though that's true; it's that her stories are filled with moments of crisis about how to carry on, or what word to put down next, and fears that it could all mean nothing in the end.
What does it mean to make an accounting of a past you can't fully remember? This elegiac dilemma is one of Karl Ove Knausgaard's primary subjects—the difference between how we think about life and its actual moment-by-moment reality. Time changes our perspective: The terrifying tyrant becomes the shrunken Lear; the large, animated rooms of our childhood become small and plain.
The narrator of Every Day Is for the Thief is a young Nigerian American on a trip home to Lagos. In this reissue of Teju Cole's first novel, originally published in Nigeria in 2007, the backdrop often feels like the foreground.
The chaotic, exuberant, vexatious poems of Rachel Zucker’s Museum of Accidents (2009) exhibited the distractions, depletions, and exhilarations of a modern urban motherhood: Some sounded as if Zucker had composed them while shepherding her toddler through the subway, others as if she had made them
Near the outset of The Skin, Curzio Malaparte’s novel about Naples following its occupation by Allied forces in October 1943, the author drily notes that it is harder to lose a war than to win it: “While everyone is good at winning a war, not all are capable of losing one.” Three hundred and