Sarah Resnick

  • City of the Damned

    AS NEW YORK WAS DECLARED the COVID-19 pandemic’s epicenter, the ghost of Dorothy Parker began turning up in my bedroom at daybreak. “What fresh hell can this be?” Parker whispered, an earworm I could not stop hearing. They say the cure for an earworm is to listen to the song in its entirety; in my case, I thumbed through the morning’s headlines like a drowsy automaton until a fuller, worsened picture of our city’s new netherworld emerged.

    “What are some films in which New York is portrayed as hell?” I asked my boyfriend. Perhaps such movies would provide an admittedly demented form of exposure

  • An Artist of the Floating World

    In her essay “Something Has Brought Me Here,” Amina Cain, the author of two story collections and now the novel Indelicacy, speaks of her preoccupation with the affinities between landscape painting and literature. “Whenever I read a novel,” she begins, “narrative has been impressing itself more and more visually in my mind. Or maybe it’s that my mind has gone more and more toward these fictional visions. Even though I’m a writer, it’s not always language I’m drawn to.” In an interview with fellow writer Renee Gladman, Cain presents her fixation as a question: “Can a story be like a painting?”

  • I’m Ill Here

    “I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, at the age of forty-one,” the poet Anne Boyer writes early in her panoramic, book-length essay The Undying. Elemental and unadorned, the sentence does not leap out for quotation, and in the context of a review of some other essay, some other book, summary would be adequate (“At the age of forty-one, the poet Anne Boyer . . .”). But in a story about breast cancer, the voice of the speaker is consequential and Boyer makes this plain when, in consulting other women writers who suffered from the disease, she observes whether or not they have used the

  • Female Troubles

    Some of the most vivid set pieces in Anna Burns’s darkly comic novel Milkman take place in the ladies’ room, those sites of respite and esprit de corps. In one of these scenes, the narrator finds herself in the bathroom of a popular club. Six women have surrounded her. The women are “paramilitary groupies,” sexual attachments to the nameless Northern Irish city’s “terrorist-renouncers,” and the eddy of local gossip has led them to mistake the narrator for one of their own; for being, like them, aroused by “the sound of breaking glass.” The encircling is an overture of friendship. They offer

  • Lock Her Up

    For Jane Fonda, the year 1968 began and ended in bed. The bed at the start was literal. This bed, which she shared with her then-husband, New Wave rake Roger Vadim, was in Jane’s honey-colored stone farmhouse in a hamlet west of Paris. Jane was pregnant and at risk of miscarrying and under orders to rest. Outside, dissent was mounting. Inside there was television and on television there was the war. For the first time, Jane paid attention and she was devastated. Jane began meeting with GI resisters. One of them gave her a book: The Village of Ben Suc, Jonathan Schell’s account of a US military