Lauren Oyler

  • U Mad?

    IN FEBRUARY OF THIS YEAR, the Twitter user @LouiseGluckPoet announced some sad news. “A great loss. Thomas Pynchon dies. He was one of my favorite authors. I have now received the news from my publisher. They want the news to remain secret for a few hours, I don’t know why. However Pynchon has left us and the mystery is useless. Bye my dearest!” The syntax was strange, and the purported impropriety even more so, but nevertheless the author’s bio was definitive: “Poet. Official account.” Her profile said she had joined in November 2020, shortly after Louise Glück had won the Nobel Prize. Perhaps

  • For Goodness’ Sake

    WHAT MAKES A PERSON GOOD? We can create a profile using social media and essays published in popular magazines. First and foremost, a good person possesses a deep understanding of power structures and her relative place in them. She has a sense of humor that never “punches down.” She doesn’t subtweet, buy stuff on Amazon, or fly on too many planes. She has children in order to fend off narcissism—a bad quality—and develop a stake in the future of planet Earth, but she would never presume to judge another woman’s choice. And though she occasionally makes mistakes—cheats on her boyfriend, offends

  • Death Becomes Her

    Ottessa Moshfegh is known for lacing her fiction with grossness and ugliness, for cursing her misfit characters with repugnant features, antisocial behavior, and a fascination with the nastier bodily functions. “It’s like seeing Kate Moss take a shit,” she told Vice of her writing in 2015. “People love that kind of stuff.”

    As the less sexy half of that quote suggests, her earlier work poses as an unflinching look at the body horror of daily life, belying the author’s bored manipulation of the fallacy that the more unpleasant something is, the truer it must be. Her sentences can seem intentionally

  • No Debutante

    For every thirty-year-old with a personal-essay collection consisting of totally normal experiences, there’s a figure whose life is so suited to becoming material that writing a memoir is not really a question of if but when. These people—celebrities, people in proximity to celebrities—revisit their experiences not only to gain closure but also to fulfill some sense of duty to history, their legacy, and their fans. Maybe they’ve also been offered a lot of money. Still, writing a book is invasive, uncomfortable, and hard. “At first, it was against my better judgment to do a memoir/autobiography,”

  • The Socialism Network

    Sally Rooney. Sally Rooney! Sally Rooney, the twenty-eight-year-old Irish novelist celebrated as the “first great millennial author,” is interested in weird relationships, or relationships that seem weird but are quietly common within the young, educated, and progressive milieu she depicts. Her debut, 2017’s Conversations with Friends, concerns a nonmonogamous not-quite-affair between Frances, a twenty-one-year-old student/budding writer, and Nick, a sexy, depressed actor in his thirties; judging, resenting, and flirting from the edges of this initially secret romance are his wife, Melissa,

  • Nice for What

    Like stereotypical versions of the people the book maligns, the title of Blythe Roberson’s How to Date Men When You Hate Men makes promises it can’t keep: This is not a how-to, she doesn’t hate men, and though she sleeps around and has maintained perplexing romantic friendships, she’s not totally sure if she’s ever been on a date. The book, she explains in the introduction, is more of a political meditation on what Roberson insists is not a personal problem but a structural one. It’s a “comedy philosophy book about what dating and loving are like now, in an era that we thought was the end of

  • Double Dare Ya

    ON THE NIGHT the French author Virgine Despentes was gang-raped, at age seventeen, she had a switchblade in her pocket but was too terrified to use it. “I am furious with a society that has educated me without ever teaching me to injure a man if he pulls my thighs apart against my will, when that same society has taught me that this is a crime from which I will never recover,” she writes in her sweeping 2006 manifesto/memoir, King Kong Theory. Published in the United States in 2010, King Kong Theory was the work that made Despentes a revered cult figure among feminists in this country, though

  • Self Fare

    MEGAN BOYLE'S NOVEL LIVEBLOG is more than seven hundred pages long and doesn’t attempt to seduce the reader hesitating at its size. “THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE INTERESTING” Boyle writes in paragraph three. “I AM NOT GOING TO TRY TO MAKE THIS SOUND INTERESTING OR TRY TO MAKE YOU LIKE ME OR THINK ABOUT IF YOU ARE READING THIS OR ENJOYING READING THIS, IT’S JUST GOING TO BE WHAT IT IS: A FUNCTIONAL THING THAT WILL HOPEFULLY HELP ME FEEL MORE LIKE IMPROVING MYSELF” Our narrator, Megan Boyle, explains that she will be recording “everything i do, think, feel, and say” in order to develop a sense of