Essays

Be Kind, Rewind

Biologists use the term endling to refer to the last remaining member of a particular species. As of May 2019, there is only one remaining Blockbuster video store left, located in Bend, Oregon ...

Marriage and Other Shams

In the early 1980s, an Indian guru homesteaded a tract of ranchland in rural Oregon, building a utopia equipped to withstand both HIV and American hypocrisy. Armed with free love and even freer ...

Surrogacy Stories

Midway through Mike Birbiglia’s latest one-man show, The New One, the ceiling above the stage opens and various baby paraphernalia cascade onto the stage floor. An oversized stuffed bear, a breast ...

On the Brink of Failure

“All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?” Compared to ...

Translators and Other Icons

Writers are sexy figures. Until recently, we tended to imagine them as drunk and glamorous, Hemingway at the bar in Cuba or Frank O’Hara partying with artists ...

Killing Joke

Some things you fall for a little too fast and a little too hard. Not that long ago, a novelist friend urged this novel on me, the way your novelist friends are wont to do. “You’ll like it,” he said ...

How Haiti Got Free

I vividly remember the rush I felt after my first encounter with the story of the Haitian Revolution. It was a sudden and miraculous sense that everything was not as it seemed ...

Baldwin’s Children

James Baldwin’s recently reissued picture book, Little Man, Little Man, positions itself within a larger textual world. In this sweet and lively story of four-year-old TJ and his friends on a summer ...

And Cuba Shall Lead Them

In an era when, history textbooks contend, the United States lurched to the right, Gus Newport presided over an unapologetically leftist government in the San Francisco Bay Area. If the region has a ...