Tag: Family

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 ...

Louise Erdrich’s Hard Facts

Early on in Louise Erdrich’s most recent novel, LaRose, the priest on the reservation articulates a worldview that encapsulates an enduring theme of this novelist’s work: “some people would try their ...

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 ...

Disability Narratives

Ask most people living with a disability to name their least favorite question and “what happened to you?” will be high on the list. “Wanting to educate yourself about disability and learn more is ...

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 ...

The Rubble of Beirut

Lebanese author Elias Khoury’s latest novel to be translated into English, Broken Mirrors, is about identity and memory, destruction and displacement, exile and its internal ruptures. The book opens ...

Gaitskill’s Fictions of Disappointment

In “A Romantic Weekend,” a story from Mary Gaitskill’s first collection, Bad Behavior, a man and a woman who are only casually acquainted go out of town for the weekend. The two seem to have met in a ...

Why Boys Must Cry

In contemporary Nigerian literature, muscular heroes of postcolonial independence have lost their swagger. Today’s patriarchs read like quaint fogies, stomping their feet about government, money, and ...

Franzen Makes Nice

Reading Jonathan Franzen’s fifth novel, Purity, in a state at once sympathetic and skeptical, I kept thinking of George Kaplan. In Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 film North by Northwest, a ring of foreign ...

On Longer Lives and Longer Deaths

America has many open secrets. The nursing home is one of them. We try not to think too hard or too long about its residents or its low-wage staff. We’ll confront its smell, its humiliations, its bleakness, only once we need it ...

Do We Need Wonder Woman?

My two-year-old daughter plays on the beach in a tiny red, white, and blue swimsuit, her chest emblazoned with winged yellow Ws that need no explanation. At a glance, the suit appears of a piece with ...

Dad’s Dictionary

My father has a refrain for when he overhears one of us, his three children, make a grammatical mistake. “You speak exactly one language, so speak it correctly!” My father grew up in a formerly ...

Linklater’s Gooey Realism

Richard Linklater’s acclaimed Boyhood is an ambitious film about a Texas boy named Mason, a millennial everyman played by Ellar Coltrane, as he matures from ages 6 to 18. Along the way, he proceeds ...