We are a small magazine with large ambitions.

Review of Sonja Livingston’s Queen of the Fall

“The assignment is to write what we’d like to be someday. One of the most regular questions of childhood, yet it seems I’ve never been asked it. Maybe because I’m one of seven children in a family headed by a woman without a husband or a career and we live in a neighborhood brimming with...

Review of Paul Auster’s The Invention of Solitude

A review of a nonfiction classic: Guilty. This is a difficult word for a criminal defense attorney to hear. It hurts when a clerk stares into the pit of the courtroom and makes guilt true by its very declaration. Not long ago, I represented a man accused of seven terrorism crimes. My trial team and...

Review of Mark Ehling’s River Dead of Minneapolis Scavenged by Teenagers

As someone who’s “made” found art and “written” found essays, I find it a hard genre to defend and not only because I need annoying quotation marks. The charges against it seem fair. It’s art that allows anything and everything to be art. (Rotting cow’s head, anyone?) It requires no real talent from the artist....

Review of Flash Fiction International

In 1992, James Thomas concluded his introduction to the anthology Flash Fiction by  wondering “whether ‘flash fiction’ will be an avid endeavor of the present literary generation.” Twenty-three years later, evidenced by the recently published Flash Fiction International edited by Thomas, Robert Shapard and Christopher Merrill, the answer would seem to be a resounding yes,...

Review of Peter Mendelsund’s What We See When We Read

“Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.” So begins Middlemarch. Your eyes, as you read those seventeen words, seemed to glide over them linearly, your mind to effortlessly flash on the meaning behind each one. Perhaps you began to generate an image of Dorothea Brooke....

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...