Our reality in reverse: A conversation from a Russian classroom

I treasure my subscription to Harper's Magazine. Each month it delivers a sampler of high-quality original writings and other material, like a fine box of Belgian chocolates. The "other material" is what makes Harper's especially delicious. Harper's rummages through the world's vast written record, and like an artist making sculpture out of found objects, the … Continue reading Our reality in reverse: A conversation from a Russian classroom

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Good Sentences Vol. 1

In the book v. e-reader debate, a clear benefit to e-readers is the ability to annotate easily. And I'm an avid annotator of sentences and passages I like. (My workaround for reading books is to snap a photo of the page and then save the screenshot to Evernote - which converts it to readable and … Continue reading Good Sentences Vol. 1

A Lesson in Persistence: Flaubert’s Struggle with Madame Bovary

It’s easy to think that books now considered classics must have been, in some sense, inevitable. That the authors intuited they were onto something vital. Their toil was propelled by the mental flow that, at the best of times, animates human endeavor. This idea is discouraging to one struggling with his art and divining in … Continue reading A Lesson in Persistence: Flaubert’s Struggle with Madame Bovary

Explore Caribbean literature with this enticing list of a writer’s favorites

I love reading for so many reasons. But chief among them is literature's ability to carry us to other places and cultures; to reveal some sliver of this vast, unknowable world. That's why I was delighted to discover an interview with an Antiguan writer, Joanne C. Hillhouse, on Caribbean writing. It's a fascinating stroll through … Continue reading Explore Caribbean literature with this enticing list of a writer’s favorites

An anonymous woman’s harrowing account of post-WWII life in Berlin

Twitter tells me that August is #WomenInTranslation month. (I'm thrilled both to realize that this is a thing, and that it's happening at this moment. No waiting!) There is a trove of tweets on the subject that I've eagerly riffled through. Then I asked myself, if I were to dedicate a post to this, what … Continue reading An anonymous woman’s harrowing account of post-WWII life in Berlin

The best personal essay I’ve ever read was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1936

I thought I knew F. Scott Fitzgerald because I'd read The Great Gatsby, discarded Tender Is the Night, and heard Hemingway tell how drunk he would get in Paris. I did not know F. Scott Fitzgerald. One day, a writer friend told me Fitzgerald is one of his favorite writers. "Why?" I asked. He told … Continue reading The best personal essay I’ve ever read was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1936