Paper Trail

Ursula K. Le Guin’s home to become a writer’s residency; a special issue of the Yale Review on criticism

The summer issue of the Yale Review asks: “What do we need from criticism?” In her editor’s note, Meghan O’Rourke introduces essays by Christine Smallwood, Merve Emre, Namwali Serpell, Teju Cole, and Brian Dillon, among others. In her essay “A Reviewer’s Life,” Bookforum contributor Christine Smallwood argues that criticism is always an autobiographical act: “In the pursuit of explicating a text, observing its patterns and structure, how it works, what it means, I also explicate myself—revealing what catches my interest, where my attention lingers. I might do this more, or less, intentionally, but I always do it.”

The New Yorker’s Katy Waldman considers a spate of pandemic novels, including Gary Shteyngart’s Our Country Friends, Sigrid Nunez’s The Vulnerables, and Louise Erdrich’s The Sentence. “These works dutifully convey the facts of lockdown, yet they come most alive in side plots involving love and manners, the arts, or characters’ tussles with identity. The result is a class of novels about the need for memory which display symptoms of denial themselves.” 

The late author Ursula K. Le Guin’s home in Portland, Oregon has been donated to local nonprofit Literary Arts for use as a writer’s residency. Before she died in 2018, the author “had a clear vision for her home to become a creative space for writers and a beacon for the broader literary community,” said Andrew Proctor, the executive director of Literary Arts.

The summer books issue of Tank magazine includes contributions from Lydia Davis, Dan Sinykin, Parul Sehgal, and more.