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Life Until Death

By the time I was 16, I had lost all my grandparents. As a child, these deaths never made sense, never added up to anything, other than loss. Sudden or pulverizing—as the inexorable crush of Alzheimer’s on my paternal grandfather and those who loved him, watching him disappear into haze, dependence, a nursing home, and then the hospital.

Our Brave New World

Azar Nafisi grew up in a middle-class Iranian family under the Shah. As a young girl, she romanticized America based on the ideals, energy, and aspirations celebrated in America’s best books, music, films, and art. As an adult, Nafisi taught several Western novels under the Iranian theocracy that put a bounty on Salman Rushdie’s head.

In Conversation

DARCEY STEINKE with Elizabeth Trundle

The notion of burning in hell doesn’t get as much play in our broader culture as it once did. Still, we all have our own version of hell, and we might spend more time there than we’d like.

In Conversation

2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas
MARIE-HELENE BERTINO with Marina Petrova

Marina Petrova sits down with Marie-Helene Bertino, The author of 2 A.M. at The Cats Pajamas. It’s a hot, hot afternoon in August. But “It is a dark, dark seven A.M. on Christmas Eve Eve” in Philadelphia when the book opens and the city is being cold and a bit hostile to its inhabitants. The novel follows the lives of three characters over a span of 24 hours. Nine-year-old Madeleine is an aspiring jazz singer, with a recently deceased mother, a mouth of a sailor, a cockroach-infested apartment, and a father who is so stricken by grief he cannot get out of bed.

A Life in a Box

French critic and photographer Hervé Guibert’s journal, The Mausoleum of Lovers, begins in 1976 and ends in 1991, with the writer’s death from AIDS.

In Conversation

CLAUDIA LA ROCCO with Siobhan Burke

I first met Claudia La Rocco in 2009, when I took her Writing on Dance class at what was then Dance Theater Workshop. The course began from the simple premise, a revelation to me at the time, that criticism is an art form in itself.

Memory is a Merciless Editor

Snow in May, Kseniya Melnik’s debut short fiction collection, is an impressive feat. Written in masterful prose, the nine stories span 50 years with protagonists both male and female, young and old. And although they are stand-alone pieces, some characters make multiple appearances, threading their way though the tales, rendering the book somewhere in between a story collection and a novel.


First encounter with Blake Butler’s new novel may leave you dazzled, yet also disoriented, and if so you’ll find a point of reckoning in Roberto Bolano’s 2666.


In the winter of 1912, when Ezra Pound, Hilda Doolittle, and Richard Aldington initiated their Imagist movement in Poetry Review, one of their chief objectives was to make every object equal. It was sensation via simplicity, direct treatment of the “thing”—whatever that thing might be.


“Everyone moves, carries stuff, backpacks, gym bags, but mostly some idea of themselves."

The Hero Isn't Home

It begins the same way: a respectable young woman living an ideal life in Manhattan—“that perfectly nice apartment and absolutely suitable job and routines and husband who didn’t do anything completely awful”—disappears from her home in the middle of the day.

In Conversation

Balling Hard in Different Aspect Ratios: HEIKO JULIEN in conversation with Rob Williams

In his debut collection of stories and poems, I Am Ready to Die a Violent Death, mercurial author/Internet meme Heiko Julien muses about everything from the flavor of porcelain (one of his favorites) to the state of the American dream in the 21st century (“I am an American and my truck was built by God”).

In Conversation

BEYOND THAT: WENDY C. ORTIZ In Conversation with Laura Jean Moore:

Wendy C. Ortiz’s new memoir, Excavation, is a beautifully wrought unearthing of the complicated power dynamics that emerged between herself and her English teacher, Jeff Ivers, during a years-long affair that began when she was in 8th grade.

In Conversation

TO BE FLOODED ONCE MORE: JAMES TOLAN In Conversation with Tony Leuzzi

“How could I feel / what wasn’t there?” James Tolan writes as doubting Thomas in his two-part poem, “Carravaggio’s Thomas.” This confrontation with palpable absence is a recurrent theme in Mass of the Forgotten, Tolan’s first book of poems.


As the daughter of a respected rabbi, Leah Vincent was born into a world that worshiped messiahs, men, and modesty in suburban Pittsburg. A middle child in a Yeshivish family of 13 devoted to an ultra-orthodox sect of Judaism, Vincent writes, “I had been groomed to handle men—God, my father, my future husband—with relentless worship.


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2014

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