This past May, representatives from five different areas of expertise within literary studies met to think about how description works in the novel. We’re proud to reprint edited versions of their position papers here, along with annotations of descriptive passages from Ulysses, The Price of Salt (aka Carol), Anna Karenina, a Japanese prose sketch, Robinson Crusoe, and more.Read This
What was English weather? So much of England’s national character seems bound up in the island’s eternally cold, damp, and rainy climate. But over the centuries, the meaning of the country’s weather has changed as the English people themselves have changed.Read This
To get to Publix for supplies, walk east on the pink sidewalk of Venetian Way, which links five man-made islands between Miami and Miami Beach. Biscayne Bay glitters green all around, and in the water are needle-nose fish; sometimes there’s an eagle ray, too, blue light wavering on its leopard wings. Today, there are only depths of dizzying blue above, but often there are heaped white dunes of clouds, sheets and wedding cakes and tire treads of clouds, fata morganas in the sky.Read This
Floyd, VA, sits at the intersection of State Highway 221 and Route 8, in the southwest point of the state. The sole stoplight in Floyd County guards that intersection, watching over the courthouse, an unadorned 20th-century clump of brick boxes with two modest granite war memorials on the lawn in front and a big parking lot in back that it shares with the Bank of Floyd.Read This
For city dwellers, summer is park season. Warm weather draws people out of their homes, onto the streets, and, if they’re lucky, into a nearby park to enjoy recreation of all kinds (eating, napping, fishing, swimming, texting, Pokémon catching, furtive sex, sunbathing, people watching). We imagine public parks as democratic spaces par excellence, but they can also become sites of urban intensification, where the patterns and tensions of the city emerge more clearly than they do in the streets.Read This
Critics have singled out movies of the early 1970s and some novels of the early 1980s as the first wave of “revisionist Westerns.” But back in 1960, without Cormac McCarthy’s lurid baroque extravagances, without any cool Hollywood soundtrack, John Williams wrote what may be the perfect anti-Western. Butcher’s Crossing is a novel that turns upside down the expectations of the genre—and goes to war with a century of American triumphalism, a century of regeneration through violence, a century of senseless slaughter.Read This
In the middle of mind-numbingly boring days at work as an online content manager, Ronald Stanage challenges himself to conceptualize and draw an entire graphic novella over the course of his lunch break.Read This
The bus from Hermosillo had rimmed out and leveled off on top of the Sierra Madre to begin its can-of-worms slide into Chihuahua when, from the pack between my legs, I took out my map. It covered Mexico from the border to Zacatecas and looking at it required me to stretch my right arm
across the aisle, holding the gulf coast in my hand.
“You won't get lost with a map like that,” said a voice from across the aisle and one row behind me.Read This
In her recent memoir, Hold Still, photographer Sally Mann reveals how extraordinary artists, even when they are mothers, require personal sacrifice from those around them, as well as from themselves.Read This
In her new memoir, H Is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald revitalizes English nature writing by ditching the comfort that comes with an easy sense of belonging to the land.Read This
The latest novel from Caryl Phillips, The Lost Child, is an oblique, intricate re-writing of Wuthering Heights set in Leeds, Yorkshire, where Phillips grew up. Though characterized by dramatic shifts in perspective, time, and place, the novel miraculously enables the radically different worlds it delineates to make sense of each other, and explores the tragedies of history through the pain and pathologies of its central characters. Here Phillips talks about the process of writing this novel, as well as his approach to novel writing in general.Read This
Danny Martin is currently developing an art book that focuses on the unique plant life of the Sonoran Desert, to be titled “Arizona Cactus.” The following selection of illustrations represent Martin’s renderings of Arizona’s most iconic cactus, the saguaro.Read This
The world thinks it knows Manhattan. Looking at Richard Howe’s extraordinary photographic portrait of the island, New York in Plain Sight, reveals that this assumed familiarity is a sign of how little we actually know the city.Read This
Montana Avenue in Billings is a startlingly urban raft on the vast, grassy sea of rural southern Montana. It has microbreweries, artists, a cowboy hat–fixing genius, solar-powered lofts, and huge summer street events, along with homeless people, addicts, and the occasional break-in or fatal stabbing in an alley. Saucer-size rodeo buckles, business suits, elaborate mustaches, and sleeve tattoos co-exist.