Books

End of an Era

Scientists have increasingly recognized the extent to which all that carbon we’ve been pumping into the atmosphere has inexorably altered the composition and quality of Earth’s ground, sea, and sky. In her fantastic new book, Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey Into the Heart of the Planet We Made, Gaia Vince travels around the globe from South America to Asia to Africa and back again to see how we as a species are adapting, for both good and ill, to the changes we’ve caused.

The Myth of a Post-Racial America

Within the first pages of Citizen: An American Lyric, Claudia Rankine establishes, through personal anecdote told in the second person, the themes that will be explored in the book: race, privilege, public versus private persona, memory and most ubiquitously, language, or, more specifically, the power of language both to construct and deconstruct personhood.

Inconclusion

Charles D’Ambrosio wants his essays to live. This is not to say he hopes they endure as literature, though he no doubt does, as any writer would. Rather, by investing them with a high-minded casualness of style that indulges flights, digressions, intrusions, and colloquialisms, he creates an effect whereby the reader is not absorbing the pronouncements of an authority asserting his mastery over a topic so much as hearing very eloquent off-the-cuff thoughts by an impressively perceptive friend.

In Conversation

MOTHER TONGUE
LEORA SKOLKIN-SMITH with Andrea Scrima

It’s nearly impossible to imagine from today’s perspective of heavily guarded checkpoints and border controls and ugly, towering walls, but Israel was a very different world in the mid-1960s, when 14-year-old Liana Bialik and her sister accompany their mother Ada to her native Jerusalem to take part in “The Ceremony of the Graves.”

Fall’s Picks for Younger Readers

Julie Berry, The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place(Roaring Brook Press, 2014) Jacqueline Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014) Ben Tripp, The Accidental Highwayman (Tor Teen, 2014)

WARM CORE:
The Unusually Associative Cyclonic System of Ben Lerner’s 10:04

Would you know what I mean if instead of conventional plot summary I presented a key quotation from Ben Lerner’s new novel 10:04 followed by a series of associated specifics separated by semi-colons?

In Conversation

WHY ARE THERE NO FOUNDING MOTHERS?
KATHLEEN ROONEY with Rachel Slotnick

Kathleen Rooney is always calculating, observing, and filing details away for further consumption. In this way, she never stops composing. I’m amazed by the way her brain works. Her memories must read like a Rolodex of eloquent musings of philosophers and contemporary critics.

Arms in the Air

Prelude to Bruise is filled with Boy. In Saeed Jones’s debut he appears in portraits, such as “Boy in a Stolen Evening Gown” and “Boy Found Inside a Wolf,” as well as a longer prose bit “History, according to Boy.&rdquo

Pure Art

“Believing that I am worth waiting for, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future mate, and my future children to a lifetime of purity including sexual purity from this day until the day I enter a committed, faithful, lifetime marriage.” —A Daughter’s Purity Pledge

In Conversation

WRITTEN AT THE BODY
CHRISTINE WERTHEIM with Alexandra Chasin

Christine Wertheim’s mUtter–bAbel provides a look into the guts of language from womb to tomb, via an instigation-cum-investigation of the transfer of language from mother to child.

The Long View Back to the Gardens: Politics as Dissident Polis in Jonathan Lethem's Dissident Gardens

A year after its publication, Jonathan Lethem’s Dissident Gardens has received a range of reviews which have either praised or dismissed the novel: the only constant has been the reviewer’s focus: naturally, given the genre, it is on plot, characters, point of view, as well as on how Lethem writes “the political.”

To Articulate the Daily Miraculous

An interesting question to attempt to wrestle with regardless of the inclination of your spiritual life is, “What’s the purpose of prayer?” Not of specific prayers: even if we’re not of a religious bent, most of us understand there are certain prayers taken up for certain things (mostly filable under gratitude or assistance, largely). But no, no: What’s the point of prayer—like, daily prayer?

In Conversation

DREAM MACHINE
SADE MURPHY with Laura Stokes

This is a place Murphy has created for herself, where she can unmoor words from their old connotations and push them out into darker water. Characters move in and out of the poems—a lover and abuser called Him, a nightmare man, a cruel mother, and the dreamer, who both acts and is acted upon by her creations.

In Conversation

A WAY I COULD BE
KATE BERNHEIMER with Matt Bell

The worlds Bernheimer’s fairy tales create are mirrors and prisms, reflecting and refracting other fairy-tale worlds that have come before, but they are also each worlds all her own, animated by the power of her singular voice, her unmistakable imagination.

Fragments of Feminism: Four New Books

“Would you like to sample Desire?” Ruth asks.

A Vaccine for Death Itself Eludes Us Yet

In her new book, On Immunity: An Inoculation, Eula Biss also explores how ideas replicate themselves and spread from person to person

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DEC 14-JAN 15

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