Larissa Pham

  • culture May 05, 2021

    Heart-Shaped Bruise

    When I used to write about my relationship to anorexia, I tended to retreat to metaphor. It was a worm. It left me hollow, scoured, cleaned of mucous contents. It was a fire. It was a book set aflame, and I was both the fire and the paper. Because I believed it didn’t have anything to do with how my body looked, I felt, at times, like there was something more regal, more holy about my condition, as though its removal from my body reduced the amount by which I was abased.

    I regret this, and I regret writing about it that way—with poetry. It was a way to make sense of a thing I found lived inside

  • Behaving Badly

    IN “A ROMANTIC WEEKEND,” the second story in Bad Behavior, Mary Gaitskill’s grim and lyrical debut collection from 1988, two characters go to Washington, DC, for the titular getaway. Much of their time together goes awry because of a drastic mismatch of expectations and psychosexual needs. Beth, the female protagonist, has fallen suddenly in love with her companion. She conjures a fantasy of complete submission and devotion: “He made her do things she’d never done before, and then they went for a walk and looked at the new tulips that were bound to have grown up somewhere. None of this felt