How to imagine the intellectual and affective thicket of literary inheritance is one of the urgent densities of aesthetic life. This exploration of lineages and canonicity is also one of writing’s most complex pleasures. However, the joy of reading and writing in proximity to others’ work can be challenging to understand, . . .Read more
When podcaster Hillary Frank, host and founder of The Longest Shortest Time, first started pitching her motherhood-centered show for radio, she “met rejection after rejection.” Editors pushed back on the grounds of market demand, as Frank recalls in a New York Times op-ed:
“We’re just not sure there’s enough of an audience for this kind of thing,” an editor said. . . .
Of the many monsters that walk the landscape of Kenji C. Liu’s second poetry collection, Monsters I Have Been, perhaps the most terrifying are those that have blended into everyday life. Godzilla and Ultraman are featured prominently in the book, but they are not the ones to fear. . . .Read more
The novel Where Reasons End was written, as many people know by now, in the year after the suicide of the author’s sixteen-year-old son, Vincent Kean Li. Noting tonal and stylistic departures from her previous works, reviewers have praised it for reworking the novelistic form to accommodate the rhythms and temporalities of grief. . . .Read more
All the Wild Hungers: A Season of Cooking and Cancer is a collection of essays by Karen Babine about feeding her family while her mother dies of cancer. The book covers the dark winter months in Minnesota, from the moment her mother is diagnosed in October to the appearance of the first wild strawberries at her grandparents’ cabin on Third Crow Wing Lake in June. . . .Read more
Reading the wry, surreal tales in Sabrina Orah Mark’s short-story collection Wild Milk often feels like navigating an anxiety nightmare dreamt by a wittier half-sister of the Brothers Grimm. The stories are narrated with a matter-of-factness that could be misconstrued as detachment or lack of feeling, except that this narrator—who is usually a woman entangled in a web of relationships, . . .Read more
Situated midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, about an hour’s drive from the geographical center of California, the inland city of Fresno and the wide expanse of the San Joaquin Valley around it have nurtured a number of influential poets, such as Gary Soto and Brian Turner, plus two former poets laureate: Philip Levine left Detroit via Iowa for the West Coast, . . .Read more
Oculus, Sally Wen Mao’s second collection, travels swiftly and deftly through time and urban landscapes across continents. Unbounded by death and transcending history, these poems interrogate the relationship between technology and the body and confront the symbolic violence of the camera’s gaze. Mao employs a range of forms, . . .Read more
“It’s good to know where you come from, so that you do not live as though you’re lost,” Barry Lopez writes about halfway through Horizon, his first full-length work of nonfiction since he cast his careful gaze on the far north in Arctic Dreams thirty-three years ago. . . .Read more
Nicole Chung’s debut memoir, All You Can Ever Know, confronts the difficulties Chung encountered growing up as an adopted Korean daughter in a predominantly white southern Oregon town. The book also chronicles her search as an adult for her biological family.
Chung resists the thought of the adoption story she grew up hearing being all she could ever know about her history. . . .Read more