Rachel Kushner

  • Earth Angel

    Dear Astronaut Selection Officer:

    I am a civilian who would like to be considered for the one-year astronaut training program.

    I would be most grateful if you would send me information, application forms, and any such material you feel might be helpful in this regard.


    Denis H. Johnson

    DENIS H. JOHNSON WROTE THE ABOVE LETTER on April 15, 1991. It’s among his papers at the Harry Ransom Center, at the University of Texas in Austin. A few years ago, I took a picture of the letter. Recently I sent it to a friend. This friend, a writer who admires and has publicly endorsed Denis

  • culture December 05, 2016

    We Are Orphans Here

    Standing at an intersection in Shuafat Refugee Camp, in East Jerusalem, I watched as a boy, sunk down behind the steering wheel of a beat-up sedan, zoomed through an intersection with his arm out the driver's-side window, signaling like a Nascar driver pulling in for a pit stop. I was amazed. He looked about 12.

    "No one cares here," my host, Baha Nababta, said, laughing at my astonishment. "Anyone can do anything they want."

    As Baha and I walked around Shuafat this spring, teenagers fell in behind us, forming a kind of retinue. Among them were cool kids who looked like cool kids the world

  • Lipstick Traces

    CLARICE LISPECTOR had a diamond-hard intelligence, a visionary instinct, and a sense of humor that veered from naïf wonder to wicked comedy. She wrote novels that are fractured, cerebral, fundamentally nonnarrative (unless you count as plot a woman standing in her maid’s room gazing at a closet for nearly two hundred pages). And yet she became quite famous, a national icon of Brazil whose face adorned postage stamps. Her first novel, Near to the Wild Heart, appeared in 1943 and was an immediate and huge sensation, celebrated as the finest Portugese-language achievement yet in, as one critic

  • Into Thin Air

    Tom McCarthy’s novel Remainder, published in 2007, is a work of clean and seamless guile. There’s no messy and cumbersome interiority, no ruminating, no sociopolitical context, nor much context at all. Just a contemporary city (London), rendered soberly by an unnamed narrator with a metaphysical problem: He’s had a terrible accident of some kind, feels inauthentic as a result, and proceeds to reenact events of escalating complexity in order to recapture a kind of “rightness,” of time coinciding with itself in an idealized manner. He tries to describe his own post-traumatic condition but has