Book of the Month: Little Weirds by Jenny Slate (2019)


Book of the Month: Little Weirds by Jenny Slate (2019) Critical Evaluation The only piece of fiction in Jenny Slate’s new book, “Little Weirds,” describes a love that grew old in an un-air-conditioned house by the Atlantic Ocean. “I was trying to say goodbye to my ex-husband, who is an important person in my life and a friend,” the actress and comedian said of the story, “I Died: Bronze Tree.” After her divorce from the director Dean Fleischer-Camp in 2016, she heard that sometimes, as a healing exercise, trauma survivors reimagine painful experiences. “I decided to [...]

Book of the Month: Little Weirds by Jenny Slate (2019)2020-05-12T12:54:19-04:00

Book of the Month: How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones (2019)


Book of the Month: How We Fight for Our Lives (2019) by Saeed Jones Critical Evaluation How We Fight for Our Lives is a new memoir by Saeed Jones, an award-winning poet and a former BuzzFeed editor, who grew up black, gay, and Southern in the nineties and early two-thousands. The title previews the book’s tone and also its content: urgent, immediate, matter of fact. Jones writes of his mother and her heart condition, and of physical assault, economic hardship, and the floating threat of violence that men like him face. His title carries an edge of social critique. [...]

Book of the Month: How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones (2019)2020-05-14T14:07:16-04:00

Book of the Month: Milkman by Anna Burns (2018)


Book of the Month: Milkman (2018) by Anna Burns Critical Evaluation In an unnamed town and in an unnamed country, our narrator, the Middle Sister, is doing the best she can to contend — to contend with other people’s desires and wants for her life. Young women don’t culturally belong only to themselves, even if they want, but are subject still to the desires of their parents, families, boyfriends, older siblings, friends, churches and communities. They want her to stop walking around town with her nose in a book, to which she asks, “Are you saying it’s okay [...]

Book of the Month: Milkman by Anna Burns (2018)2020-05-14T14:06:24-04:00

Juno’s Swans (2018) by Tamsen Wolff


Critical Evaluation "Juno’s Swans by Tamsen Wolff is not a traditional queer “first love” novel. It’s not a story about becoming and it doesn’t contain bromides about the magic of new love. What it offers instead is a story about the limits of love: both the crash at the end of a first love, and the tunnel vision infatuation can give, the kind where everything outside that adoring gaze becomes flattened. Juno’s Swans gives us Nina, a high school senior washed ashore from a summer in Cape Cod in which she went to an acting residency, fell madly in love with Sarah, and [...]

Juno’s Swans (2018) by Tamsen Wolff2019-05-01T12:00:14-04:00

The Patch (2018) by John McPhee


Critical Evaluation "Here is the seventh collection of essays by John McPhee, his 33rd book and perhaps his eleventy-billionth word of published prose. This far into a prolific career, it may be a good time to finally unmask the 87-year-old as a one-trick pony. In 'The Patch,' he again shamelessly employs his go-to strategy: crafting sentences so energetic and structurally sound that he can introduce apparently unappealing subjects, even ones that look to be encased in a cruddy veneer of boringness, and persuade us to care about them. He’s been working this angle since the 1950s; it’s a good thing we’re [...]

The Patch (2018) by John McPhee2019-04-01T12:00:28-04:00

Senses of Style: Poetry before Interpretation (2017) by Jeff Dolven


Critical Evaluation "Jeff Dolven treats no novels in Senses of Style: Poetry before Interpretation, but Mary Gaitskill’s Veronica stages a moment of just the sort that animates his study. An ex-model now suffering from hepatitis, Gaitskill’s narrator, Alison, coins the term 'style suit' to refer to the fashions of her moment. “I thought the new style suit was who I really was,” she remembers with a cringe. Not a costume to be donned or discarded at will, style, for Alison, is the outward manifestation of an inner self, as solid and unchangeable as we might wish our selves to be: 'I [...]

Senses of Style: Poetry before Interpretation (2017) by Jeff Dolven2019-03-01T12:00:03-05:00

The Art of Stillness (2014) by Pico Iyer


Critical Evaluation “After decades as a travel writer, Pico Iyer has fallen in love with being still. His new book, “The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere,’’ is a bustling paean to the stationary life. His reflections on the value of the meditative mind are quite global, leaping from the novels of Marcel Proust to the songs of Leonard Cohen, from a remote mountaintop in California to the back streets of Kyoto. More essay than book in length, the work’s brevity seems designed to accommodate the very busyness Iyer decries. But he embraces this irony: ‘It’s deliberately short, so you [...]

The Art of Stillness (2014) by Pico Iyer2019-01-16T15:22:27-05:00
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