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Story Towards Story

For a form defined by length, the novel depends remarkably on what it leaves out. Even a novelist who prefers to let the weeds go, a Proust or a Wallace, has to prune away a few.

In Conversation

Parataxis and Ponzi Schemes

Wreckage of Reason II: Back to the Drawing Board is an anthology of contemporary experimental women’s writing. The anthology, as Leora Skolkin-Smith has written, “stands on its literary merits alone, but it also elicits questions that point far beyond its own physical presence in the publishing arena—questions primarily to do with the threatened future of experimental and literary writing itself, with the questionable health and well-being of our current literary culture and its openness or lack thereof to work that isn’t consumerist in intent.”

Writing Out of Bounds

In 1457, Renaissance painter Antonello da Messina completed the iconic Portrait of a Man (Il Condottiere). The canvas is dark and unadorned, save for the central, imposing visage of the condottiere in question.

Kids Today

Among the shooters, there are commonalities—social isolation, feelings of persecution, psychotropic drug use, obsessive playing of violent video games (like Call of Duty or World of Warcraft), etc.—that experts will, in every aftermath, desperately try to collate and quantify with the hope of achieving some understanding of a phenomenon that has become appallingly familiar in our culture.

The Good Fight

There are few façades in New York City as iconic as the main branch of the New York Public Library (NYPL) on Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street. 104 years old this year, what is now known as the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building operates in much the same way as it has since 1911—admission is free and any cardholder can access the research collection housed in the stacks under the Rose Reading Room.

Straddling Borders

An Israeli tour guide once said to me something to the effect of “Living in Israel is a choice, and it is a choice I make every day.” Even if the comment is an exaggeration, it is nonetheless striking to someone from the US, a country in which everyday life does not entail, as a matter of course, constant evaluation of the nation’s actions and of one’s place within it.

Sand in the Machine

For many of us, the Internet has been normalized to the point of seeming benignity. Its integration with virtually every facet of contemporary existence has created a sort of homogenization of online expectations.

In Conversation

Moved to Emulation

Mia Alvar’s debut story collection In the Country, published in June, has already received a great deal of attention and praise, and for very good reason. Mia has written a book that explores themes of identity, displacement, and belonging with characters that will break your heart with their strength and simultaneous vulnerability. These characters feel real in a way that only the best fiction can manage.

Beyond the West

In 2012, British writer, journalist, and blogger Ann Morgan took on the mighty task of reading the globe. Over the course of the year, she read one book from 196 countries on the planet while simultaneously blogging about the endeavor.

The Lonely Hearts Club

With Modern Romance, Ansari seems to want to give us (especially the men among us) a stiff slap on the head and teach us how we can all just get along.

Small Town Stasis by the Irish Coastline

Barrett’s stories suggest urgent appeal. Each one moves seductively between a variety of registers and moods, from ugly, awkward sentences to beautiful, lyrical ones. His prose is precise down to the most idiosyncratic descriptions.

How To Treat Intersex People

Intersex people have been mistreated for a long time. Two doctors—one a professor, the other a surgeon—wrote books to shine light on this injustice. In Galileo’s Middle Finger, Dr. Alice Dreger, a professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University, examines the enduring history of unethical medical practices imposed on intersex patients.

Versions and (Per)Versions or: Get Rich or Die Tryin'

Larissa Shmailo’s #specialcharacters is both product and response to the Millenial generation, the effects of capitalism on the artist and individual, and our post-Internet culture. But Shmailo’s use of language—the way each line of each poem and each word of each line and each syllable of each word opens doors to her collection’s other poems, and other lines, and other words with, yes, other syllables—has its roots in a movement much closer to the Cold War Kids, poets like Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein, who edited the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E publication from 1978 to 1981

Hewn In A Wild Workshop

Most students of literature know Emily Brontë, or at least we think we do: brilliant, passionate, undisciplined, even feral, yet at the same time wan, reclusive, depressive, diminished. Her sister Charlotte wrote that Emily’s sole novel Wuthering Heights “was hewn in a wild workshop, with simple tools, out of homely materials.”  Though she credits Emily with a greater mastery, Virginia Woolf’s praise for the novel infers a similarly alien energy: “It is as if she could tear up all that we know human beings by, and fill these unrecognizable transparences with such a gust of life that they transcend reality.”

Strange And Unusual Bodies

Mira Corpora’s title is intentionally unfamiliar. As Jeff Jackson explained in a Bookworm interview, although the title is an idiomatic Latin expression for “strange and unusual bodies,” and suggestively probes Mira’s array of bodies distorted and made unfamiliar to themselves, it was selected mostly for its suggestive “sound” and ostensibly alien aspect;


The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2015

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