A Couple of Idiots

Renée Branum on Elif Batuman’s The Idiot On my 30th birthday, while visiting my friend Sara in New Orleans, the city flooded. I don’t even remember what our destination was—only that we couldn’t reach it because the street was full of water. This trembling lake that only the bravest cars could move through: high-riding Land … Continue reading

Unearthing Complicity

Unearthing Complicity

Jeffrey Barbieri on Wendy Chen’s Unearthings. As an essayist, I am familiar with writing that engages in personal disclosure. Too often, nonfiction work resembles something more like a therapy session—the writer has disclosed raw, personal details without making any self-reflexive attempt to interrogate or connect their story to their identity, or whatever their larger commentary … Continue reading

An Exercise in Looking

An Exercise in Looking

Naomi Washer on Magalie Guérin’s NOTES ON NOTES ON is an a-chronological studio diary that artist Magalie Guérin re-transcribed twice by hand and now in print. Through that active facsimile Guérin documents her painting process, mapping at once her creative history and the way that history consistently transforms. Personal, professional, and creative spheres intersect like … Continue reading

Teaching Violence

Teaching Violence

Sara Hendery on Riad Sattouf’s The Arab of the Future It starts, for me, with an image of a bull. Burly and dark, hard, like forehead lines, proud and steaming—to some, a symbol of fear, to others, a symbol of home. Riad Sattouf’s graphic memoir The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, … Continue reading

Abjectly Speaking

Abjectly Speaking

Morgan Childs on Miranda July’s The First Bad Man More recently than I’m inclined to admit on the Internet, my father said something to me—female, twentysomething, heterosexual, and very newly single—that felt like salt in a wound. “You call yourself a feminist, but when it comes to romance, you’re like a limp rag,” he told … Continue reading