A Review of Morten Strøksnes’ Shark Drunk

The subject of Morten Strøksnes’ Shark Drunk: The Art of Catching a Large Shark from a Tiny Rubber Dinghy in a Big Ocean is a 1,300-pound fish that lives 4,000 feet below the freezing surface of the North Pole. The shark remains off-stage most of the book, but the premise is entirely dependent on the...

A Review of Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich’s The Fact of the Body

I’m writing a book about someone who made some bad decisions. She bought a gun, kidnapped a woman, held up a bank, and on the very last day of her life shot at SWAT officers. Camilla Hall’s protest of injustice in America in the 1970s—as a member of the violent Symbionese Liberation Army—took a violent...

A Review of Alice Anderson’s Some Bright Morning I’ll Fly Away

Some Bright Morning I’ll Fly Away, by Alice Anderson, is not only a telling of a battered woman’s storm-ravaged life, it’s also a story of redemption, resilience, survival, and a reclamation of one’s true self in face of one trauma after another. The cascade of events begins with her father, whose sexual abuse of his...

Review of Kelly Davio’s It’s Just Nerves: Notes on a Disability

As many essayists and memoirists know, poets often stroll into nonfiction and bowl a perfect strike, knocking us all over like so many bowling pins. Kelly Davio’s skill as a poet is in full effect in the pages of her new essay collection, It’s Just Nerves: Notes on a Disability. She’s underselling with that word...

A Review of Eileen Myles’s Afterglow

When I read Eileen Myles’s most famous book, Chelsea Girls, I found myself regretting my mild little life. It’s a book wrought from the chaos of New York City in the 1970s: sex, crime, booze and drugs, poverty, and poetry. None of that had ever been in my life. My experience with Chelsea Girls was...

A Review of Elena Passarello’s Animals Strike Curious Poses

One day I noticed a dead cedar waxwing outside my front door. There it lay in the dirt with its black-rimmed eyes, red-tipped wings, and yellow-dipped tail, every detail whole and perfect and distinct. It was so unlike other dead birds I’ve seen, like the mangled leftovers of my cat’s dinner or some battered, city-stained...

A Review of Dawit Gebremichael Habte’s Gratitude in Low Voices

Gratitude forms the heart of Dawit Gebremichael Habte’s new memoir. Gratitude for people, for opportunities, for everyone and everything that helped Habte get to where he is today. As a refugee from Eritrea, Habte had a long, complicated journey to America. Gratitude in Low Voices: A Memoir documents that journey, and in so doing it...

A Review of Jennifer Sinor’s Letters Like the Day

The other day, I came across a stack of letters, written in 1974, by my high school boyfriend. When I left for college, he stayed home. We couldn’t afford to talk by phone, so we wrote. Reading the first letter, I hear this sweet boy’s voice, almost as if he were next to me. How...
Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Watch our book review section for regular updates on the best in new nonfiction. We publish our reviews year-round, not only when new issues arrive. Grab your reading glasses.

A Review of Eric LeMay’s Essays On The Essay And Other Essays

Eric LeMay’s new interactive collection Essays On The Essay And Other Essays asks readers to click, scroll, select, and “drive” through the first collection of its kind. “LeMay is the future of the essay,” says Ned Stuckey-French, “but fortunately he’s here now.” In this interview, Sarah Minor writes to LeMay about the tensions between the tradition of...

A Review of Jennifer Sinor’s Ordinary Trauma: A Memoir

At a writing conference I recently attended, a panelist fielded a question from an attendee about what makes a good memoir. I’m intimately fascinated by this question since I devour memoirs and am writing my own. The panelist told this story: a creative writing professor he knows was asked by a student why she received...

A Review of Jennifer Latson’s The Boy Who Loved Too Much

Gayle D’Angelo was worried about her son. While his classmates in daycare were learning to walk and talk, Eli would simply coo and smile, then hold out his arms for a hug. “He catapulted himself into the arms of a schoolmate’s mother one day and climbed into the lap of a burly man at a...

A Review of Dani Shapiro’s Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage

Dani Shapiro’s new memoir Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage is an investigation into what happens when two people promise to abandon their individual paths in life and go down the same one together. It asks what we lose and gain in making the choice to link our life to another’s. It looks, too, at the selves that fall away...

A Review of Lina Maria Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas’ Don’t Come Back

Let’s start with the almost-crash. When Lina Maria Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas writes about the time her sister is actually hit by a car in Bogota and the time she is almost hit by a car as a child, it reminds me of what happened in Tibet. I was on my way to karaoke with friends and...

A Review of Melissa Febos’ Abandon Me

Living as a blend of Native American, Puerto Rican, gay, and European, Melissa Febos knows that the chance to tell her story is a hard-won privilege. The identity she deconstructs in her latest memoir is built on proximity, history, and the behaviors residing in her blood. By holding her patchwork nature in focus, Febos honors...

A Review of Katherine McCord’s Run Scream Unbury Save

Katherine McCord’s book Run Scream Unbury Save, winner of the 2016 Autumn House nonfiction prize chosen by Michael Martone, is a whetstone of a fragmented and poetic memoir in bursts and paragraphs. You will emerge from each page emboldened to capture the exact this-ness of your day as a shadowbox-diorama with that exact plastic dinosaur...

A Review of Jericho Parms’ Lost Wax

In “To Capture the Castle,” an essay in her collection Lost Wax, Jericho Parms recounts an arduous climb to the summit of Croagh Patrick. The essay weaves its way upward, over the landscape of Ireland, tracing the outlines of other individuals on the pilgrimage, and winds its way through memory. “I can understand pilgrimage as...

A Review of Kristen Radtke’s Imagine Wanting Only This

Kristen Radtke’s graphic memoir Imagine Wanting Only This is a book about abandonment. Through Radtke’s beautiful and bruising images, we consider the ways we leave places and people, and the ways they leave us. We feel these departures deeply because of Radtke’s painstaking drawings, which allow us to experience the story for ourselves with an...