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Saeed Jones: How We Fight for Our Lives

Jones takes us through his childhood and adolescence, through feelings of shame and sadness, through incidents in which he learns he would never belong or find peace within certain groups and social circles. The story draws you in as he talks about his relationship with his evangelical grandmother and how her beliefs contrast with the Buddhist beliefs of his mother. Jones’s story becomes particularly heartbreaking in the ways he discusses his mother, her struggle to understand his sexuality, and the sacrifices she makes for him as a single mother.

Jokha Alharthi: Celestial Bodies

Celestial Bodies delivers a cornucopia, the drama tasty whether it concerns a long day of overwrought celebration, scented with incense and envy, or a midnight tryst in the desert, mixing torment and ecstasy. Juggling multiple perspectives, eschewing straightforward chronology, the narrative coheres nevertheless.

Mark Kingwell: "Wish I Were Here"

Neoliberal boredom is the main focus of Wish I Were Here. It hinges on a kind of cannibalistic pointlessness, whereby we produce and consume ourselves at a cost of our own satisfaction by design. Because if we were satisfied—by scrolling, via swiping, through posting—our engagement with these respective platforms would end (at least temporarily), which would not be in the interest of their makers, of their shareholders, who, in this attention economy, covet our eyes, our thumbs, our clicks for all time.

In Conversation

Sight Lines

Sze is a dynamic writer whose vision and aesthetic evolve as he evolves. Although his poems are still built around vivid, often startling juxtapositions, the nature of those juxtapositions, as well as the intent behind them, has changed.

Carmen Maria Machado: In the Dream House

The subject matter of her memoir, however, is vastly different: it centers on the passionate same-sex relationship between the author in her mid-twenties and another young woman that quickly turned sour and became abusive. The eponymous Dream House, the author informs us, is neither a Hollywood set nor a narrative prop, but rather an actual place—the idyllic-seeming home that Machado and her lover shared in Bloomington, Indiana—as well as a “haunted house” where “metaphors abound.”

Nell Zink: Doxology and Suzette Haden Elgin: Native Tongue

Addressing perceived injustice and giving us metaphors to understand suffering and redemption is some of the work modern fiction can do. Two recent novels that work to do this are Suzette Haden Elgin’s Native Tongue and Nell Zink's Doxology.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2019

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