We are a small magazine with large ambitions.

Review of Lisa Ohlen Harris’s The Fifth Season

“Gee, your mom is so nice,” I remember saying to one of my sisters-in-law on my wedding day. Her lips formed a sly grin and she said, “Well, she doesn’t want to be one of those mothers-in-law.” Her words evoked an image of a nosy, demanding, rebuking, hovering gadfly—not my husband’s mother. To think she...

Review of Sarah Manguso’s Ongoingness: The End of a Diary

I tried to keep my first diary during junior high, a diary which I began under lock and key and ended with a trip to the garbage can. I tried again in college, and then again while studying abroad, and to this day—aided by garbage cans and bonfires—there’s no existing firsthand account of my quotidian...

Review of Ariel Gore’s The End of Eve

When I heard Ariel Gore had published a new memoir, I bought it instantly. Then I set the thin book beside my bed and avoided it for months. The cover flap read, “Ariel doesn’t want to take care of her crazy dying mother, but she knows she will.” I couldn’t bring myself to read what I knew would be an...

A Review of Abigail Thomas’ What Comes Next and How to Like It

by I first read Abigail Thomas’ Safekeeping as a new mother, my belly still plump, my babies still purple, and my world still so vulnerable and tenuous.  In Thomas’ beautiful memoir, I found someone who understood these things, the difficulties of becoming someone’s mother and someone’s wife, while still unsure of your very self.  Safekeeping...

Review of Steven Church’s Ultrasonic

Sometimes you get the essay you need. Many people have written about Ultrasonic, Steven Church’s most recent essay collection—about the elegant soundscapes, the deep empathy, the alternating mischievousness and profundity. All sentiments with which I heartily concur—but all of which have previously been said. What I will say is simply that this book spoke to...

Review of Marie NDiaye’s Self-Portrait in Green

Where I grew up, green obscured all evidence of human endeavor, softening corners and blotting out other colors. Moss devoured cars and mattresses abandoned in the woods, blanketed roofs, and carpeted the roads. Bodies of water reflected a profound verdancy in their very names: Lake Wilderness, Cedar River, Green River. Even my mother’s eyes were...

Review of Ladette Randolph’s Leaving the Pink House

On July 30, my wife and I closed on our first house, ending a search that had taken more than two years in Boston’s red-hot housing market. We looked at close to 100 houses in that time and put offers on at least a dozen. Each time we thought we had found “the one,” we...

Review of Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist

I learned what feminism was as a twenty-year-old journalism major at Ball State University in 1995. Before that, my education in feminism came from coded messages from my mother: “Never rely on a man,” she’d say when she thought I was pining too much for a boyfriend. “It’s a man’s world. Be independent.” Since my...

Review of Daniel Menaker’s My Mistake

Perhaps it’s the ideal pairing of human characteristic and profession: the anxiety-ridden who becomes editor. In My Mistake, former New Yorker fiction editor and Random House’s executive editor-in-chief Daniel Menaker explores the life that led him to become one of the country’s most reputable editors. The book’s title is a sly reference to the editor’s...

Review of Kate Schmitt’s Singing Bones

Kate Schmitt’s Singing Bones came to me during a fragmented time of my life, and this book about suicide, depression, and storytelling spoke to me in deep, mysterious, and ultimately healing ways. Ever since my dad shot himself several years ago, I have been alternately grief-stricken, numb, and inquisitive about his death. Why did he...

Six Years in an African Village: An Interview with Jill Kandel

I “met” Jill Kandel in 2006 when she submitted a wonderful essay to Relief Journal, where I was the editor for creative nonfiction. We published that essay, and over the next few years I was not surprised to see Jill publish work in impressive journals, including The Missouri Review, Gettysburg Review, River Teeth, Image, Pinch,...

Review of Blake Bailey’s The Splendid Things We Planned

That brother. You know the one. Conversations about him start with a sigh. He’s last on the list when relatives are discussed, the pause long before his name is mentioned. I refer to mine as the “Drunk Brother in a Cabin.” The response, “You’ve got one, too?” Blake Bailey, known for his biographies of Charles...

Review of Eric Freeze’s Hemingway on a Bike

On a whim a few Saturdays ago I tried a new style of yoga—laughing yoga. I didn’t really know what to expect. I imagined myself supine on the island of my own mat, working reflectively through a series of laughing exercises and meditations. I anticipated it would probably be a little uncomfortable, but I also...

Review of B.J. Hollars’ Dispatches From the Drowning

Once upon a time, water leisure was a risky business in Wisconsin. A quick dip or canoe trip might result in death by drowning. Angels made by children in the riverbank snow became tombstones. Picnic? Better not. That anyone, ever, ice skated seems horrific. And so much for father/son fishing trips. Swan-diving daredevils or loggers,...

Review of H.D.S. Greenway’s Foreign Correspondent

For years, I wanted to be a foreign correspondent. I watched Jennifer Connelly’s sultry, savvy character on Blood Diamond getting tips from dangerous insiders in exotic places, and longed to be her. It seemed so thrilling. Glamorous, even. I procured a job covering commodities in Mexico at the height of the country’s drug war violence....

Review of Brian Turner’s My Life as a Foreign Country

Of all the issues that can tear a family down the middle over time, deciding how to define and live out service has shaped–and divided–the people I love most. Both sides of my family talk about “COs” but mean different things. Until I moved from Ohio’s Amish country to Appalachian Ohio, I’d never passed a...

Review of Sarah Gorham’s Study in Perfect

Perhaps I was drawn to Sarah Gorham’s collection,  Study in Perfect, because for the past few months my life has been a study in chaos. To make a long story short: bedbugs. Before I knew what I was doing, I had spread them to my parent’s house, my boyfriend’s house, and the new house I’d...

Review of Adriana Páramo’s My Mother’s Funeral

Mother is gone. One day I’ll pick up the phone and hear one of my sisters saying these words. Mom’s eighty-one now, and though she’s in relatively good health—survived two bouts of cancer—I know her life can’t go on forever. Mother tries to prepare me. She discusses her bank accounts, goes through her list of...