Tag: Identity

Join the Mutant Resistance!

The real world just got a lot more like a superhero comic, and not in a good way. I write on November 13, 2016; one of the many things that came up in my panicked, angry, sometimes despairing social …

Shadow-Dancing with Zadie Smith

There is a scene in Swing Time, the 1936 George Stevens musical that gives Zadie Smith her new novel’s title, in which Fred Astaire, through a series of comic mishaps, enrolls in a dance lesson with ...

All About My Mother

In her canonical 1939 essay, “A Sketch of the Past,” Virginia Woolf wonders how a coherent past may be reconstructed from countless angles, styles, and past selves. How do we choose from so many ...

Workplace Romances

Do what you love. Most American 20- or 30-somethings have heard this helpful tidbit of career counseling at one time or another in the course of our lives. Like many adages, this one is dangerous: it ...

Americans in Bulgaria

Loving Eastern Europe is a tricky business. In theory, the term “Eastern Europe” is reductive and clumsy. In reality, it often feels deeply and self-evidently true. This puts those who document the ...

Warren Zevon’s Desperado Pessimism

May 10th, 2016 marked the 40th anniversary of the hardest, truest, saddest, sickest pop-rock album you’ve never heard. Maybe you listened to it in 1976 if you read a lot of Hunter S. Thompson, or saw ...

Stumbling Over a Violent Past

When Jennifer Teege was 38, she discovered a book in Hamburg’s central library that dramatically transformed her self-conception and her life: I Have to Love My Father, Don’t I? The book concerned ...

The Thread

1 Sometime during my senior year of high school, my mother went on a laundry strike. Her goal, as I understood it, was to get my father to pick his underwear up off the bathroom floor, carry them to ...

What’s in a Face?

According to Jewish tradition, before each of us was born, we were visited by an angel who taught us all that is known and all that will be known. We were wise, in utero. And then, in the very last ...

Live Through This

I used to refer to my dark times as the IWTDs, when the mental refrain I want to die so dominated my thoughts that I took to writing the acronym in the margins of books I was reading. It was a huge ...

Orange Alert

In our post-9/11 era, the phrase “national security” has become all too familiar. A simple Google search yields over 361,000,000 results, ranging from the National Security Council homepage to op-eds ...

Jhumpa Lahiri’s Modernist Turn

Jhumpa Lahiri’s In altre parole announces the birth of a modernist. Written in hard-won Italian and reverberating with the energy of early 20th-century literary experiment, In altre parole describes ...

Back to Work

A job, in itself, is pure potential. I sometimes spend hours scrolling through job listings and Craigslist ads imagining different possible lives, each one viable. This is the type of fantasy that ...

The Year of Black Memoir

My first week as a college freshman, in 1990, I sat in W. L. Harkness Hall and listened to Professor Robert Stepto lecture on African American literature. He began with the slave narratives, in ...