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In Conversation

ALBERT MOBILIO with Tony Leuzzi

Albert Mobilio is a poet and critic whose poems exhibit a highly critical intelligence. On the other hand, as demonstrated in the following discussion, his critical acumen can be as aesthetically rewarding as his poems. Each role informs the other.

Randa Jarrar’s Love Is an Ex-Country

In Jarrar’s new book (a memoir), Trump’s rise to power is an undercurrent as, in over more than 200 pages, across decades, time zones, and borders, Jarrar explores what it is to live as an American who is also Palestinian, a woman, and a woman of a certain size who also self-defines as queer. We can all learn a lot from Jarrar: about racism, privilege, oppression, fat-phobia, sexual violence, and the way this country (and others) treats women.

Rose Szabo’s What Big Teeth

As a young reader wanting to expand and explore the perimeters of my own shape, I sought refuge in this world of terror and so I felt a familiar stride alongside Eleanor Zarrin, the seemingly normal (or at least human-ish) teen protagonist in Rose Szabo’s young adult debut, What Big Teeth, as she seeks refuge in a household of not always benign monsters.

Lauren Oyler’s Fake Accounts

In this equally exhausting and well-executed debut, Lauren Oyler turns her sharp critical eye on the world of social media—the lies we tell online and the lies we tell ourselves. Already a respected critic, this is Oyler’s first foray into fiction.

In Conversation

ERICA BUIST with J.C. Hallman

It’s rare, I would say, to read a book that is a pitch perfect projection of the personality of its author. There is usually a little mediation, a smoothing out of the edges, a tendency to perfect the self-portrait. Not so with Erica Buist’s This Party’s Dead, which can perhaps be described as a rollicking, globe-trotting death adventure, albeit not of the victim tourism sort.

In Conversation

BRANDON HOBSON with Andrew Ervin

I’m in awe of Hobson’s vision, his ability to guide his readers beyond the constraints of realism with grace and authority. And that’s perhaps what I love most about The Removed: the necessary reminder that the real and the extra-real are in fact the same thing; the distinctions we tend to make say more about ourselves than the world(s) in which we dwell.

Matthew Salesses’s Craft in the Real World

In a culture that is built to support white male voices, the attempt to carve a space as a writer-outsider is incredibly difficult, a task, Salesses argues, made that much more difficult by the traditional workshop structure where the author is “workshopped” while sitting, completely silent, in a room full of other students discussing her work.

Sigrid Nunez’s What Are You Going Through

In What Are You Going Through, Sigrid Nunez shares the heartbreaking faults of human communication. She demonstrates language’s shortcomings and the way it allows us to share experiences yet fails to connect us deeply enough to understand another living thing completely.

In Conversation

LAURA CRONK with Justin Sherwood

As I began to read Ghost Hour, taking pains to not over-identify with the poet on the page, who is and isn’t Cronk, I was thwarted at every turn. The book turns out to be, in large part, about the pull of identification. In the two poems called “Ancestry” (the second of which is published below), and more obliquely in other poems, Cronk considers her multiple identities, and how they position her in the world—as a poet, a mother, a white woman.


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2021

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