Essays Archives - The Millions

September 21, 2017

[REDACTED]: A Brief Hate Affair 12

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Oh, my friends!  Oh, the joy!  The sweet, delicious bliss of finding other readers who hate a book as much as you!

September 20, 2017

Bringing Home Baby Reveals Life, Death, and Everything in Between 0

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How could I go on when human life begins and ends? How could I go on with such a clear idea of the finiteness of existence? How could I do something as simple as brushing my teeth and climbing into bed in a cool, dark room knowing that babies are born and people die?

September 19, 2017

High School Reading as an Act of Meaningful Aggression 3

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I want my students to see reading as something combative, vulgar, assertive—a constant back-and-forth between reading and rereading, moments of stepping outside the text then coming back and battering at it with questions. Something better done in a flak jacket than pajamas.

September 12, 2017

Edgar Allan Poe Was a Broke-Ass Freelancer 6

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For his entire oeuvre—all his fiction, poetry, criticism, lectures—Poe earned only about $6,200 in his lifetime, or approximately $191,087 adjusted for inflation.

September 8, 2017

Iris Murdoch and the Limits of Language 3

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Words simply don’t do justice to any memory, argument, or work of fiction concocted in the mind. Language is an inadequate but necessary solution for addressing our disparate versions of reality.

September 7, 2017

Racism, Natural History, and Fiction 15

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Natural history is not just a grab bag; it’s not neutral, and it’s important that in fiction it not be allowed to become a playground where white people, characters, and authors can retreat into an allegorical fantasy land, as it has functioned in real life for hundreds of years with extreme consequences.

September 6, 2017

Missing Fathers: Reading Hisham Matar in Glasgow 1

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Ten years after his disappearance my father remains missing. On the anniversary, I’ve come back to Glasgow to look for him, with Matar’s words for company.

September 5, 2017

My Saucy Bark; or, A Catalogue of Imaginary Novels with Rubbish Titles 5

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What is it with this world of imaginary writers and publishers? Why can’t its inhabitants come up with better titles for their books?

September 1, 2017

Whose Beach? Our Beach: A Readers’ Guide to Shoreline Access 0

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Just as no man is an island, no beach is totally “owned” by someone. Even the famous stars in Malibu, with their yards fronting the beach, can’t yell, “Get off my beach-lawn”—although they’ve tried. Yes, part of that beach belongs to you, Joan Q. Public.

August 31, 2017

My Tree and I: Writing in Nature in New York 2

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This tree and I have written many books together, and while I have come up all with the ideas, it deserves a ton of credit too.