Meghan O'Rourke

  • Little Shot of Horrors

    The poet and essayist Eula Biss first became interested in vaccination, the subject of her book On Immunity: An Inoculation, as a new mother taken aback by the anxieties her son’s birth provoked. When her son was born—in 2009, the same year that the H1N1 flu became pandemic—Biss “crossed over into a new realm in which I was no longer fearless.” She began worrying about lead paint on the walls and the hexavalent chromium in her water. She slept with a baby monitor beside her. As she puts it, “I wanted to hear him breathing. I understood that this was an absurd indulgence but it was one I could

  • culture July 09, 2013


    Death has been a great literary theme for so long you might think there’d be little left to say on the subject, but in recent decades the literature of death has taken an interesting and novel turn. Writers are recording their own deaths as they happen.

  • Father of Invention

    Amity Gaige’s Schroder, her third novel, is a daring book. It tells a clean, suspenseful, economical story that is also a clever act of social commentary. It asks us to empathize with one of the most benighted figures in today’s marital hierarchy: the sketchy divorced dad, in this case the title character, who is at best an “erratic” father, a laid-off at-home parent unwilling to fret about things like BPA and the dangers of Mountain Dew, and more than willing to pick up a dead fox with his young daughter and study it. On the verge of divorce, this father wants—unbelievably, and to the frustration