Posts by: Kirstin Allio

What Poets and Writers Want

By

The staff at Poets & Writers put out a call to writers—“some of our most thoughtful and articulate citizens”—to share their perspectives on important issues for the next US president. Fifty writers weigh in, including Javier Zamora, Mira Ptacin, and Ocean Vuong. Rita Dove writes: “If we are ever to attain our forefathers’ aspirations for ‘a […]

...more

“A Hologram of Self”

By

Kristin Dombek’s The Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism is just out from FSG, and over at n+1 she writes beguilingly, with humor and aplomb, about narcissists as hollow selves who become genius-tricksters at copying and adopting the brightest parts of the selves of others. Beware! They take what they think […]

...more

Many Roads to Worship

By

Erik Reece, author of Utopia Drive: A Road Trip Through America’s Most Radical Idea, writes a lively review of Thomas More’s 1516 novel, Utopia, for FSG’s Work in Progress. More’s Utopians “revere religious tolerance above all else…in keeping with the sentiments of their founder, Utopos, who ‘considered it possible that God made different people believe […]

...more

Lovecraft’s Hometown

By

To know Lovecraft turns out to be a way to know a great deal about the city [of Providence]. Still weird, and mostly architecturally unchanged since the early 1900s, Providence was H.P. Lovecraft’s stomping ground and muse. Noel Rubinton takes a literary walking tour of the horror/sci-fi master’s haunts for the New York Times, including […]

...more

Violent Code

By

Poet Safiya Sinclair, author of Cannibal, takes part in the Kenyon Review Conversation series with insight into race in America from a Jamaican’s point of view. Living in a white academic bubble in Charlottesville, VA, immersing herself in slavery-era texts and James Baldwin, she describes how she discovered the ways racism is reduced to the […]

...more

Chris Kraus + Jill Soloway

By

Chris Kraus’s experimental, cult classic I Love Dick has been adapted for TV by Jill Soloway, and it’s time to revisit and scrutinize Kraus’s use of the slur “kike,” and indeed Kraus’s sense of her own Jewishness. In the Los Angeles Review of Books, Rebecca Sonkin places Kraus in the Jewish literary tradition of her […]

...more

Readers’ Work

By

Vivid, shiver-inducing, short story excerpts stud “The Summer People of Shirley Jackson and Kelly Link” over at Longreads. On conjuring a story with the same title as Jackson’s original, iconic, and creepy “The Summer People,” Kelly Link says, “I liked the idea of writing a story where all the play between Jackson’s story and mine […]

...more

Raw Material

By

Our VW van had a Porsche engine, other modifications that made it good for tough Mexican roads. Gorgeous photographs accompany Lucia Berlin’s own account, with an introduction by Cressida Leyshon, of her travels in Mexico, drugs, and family life. Memories are ordered as episodes, or “sketches,” and readers of her short stories will find great […]

...more

The Work Doesn’t Forget

By

Anthony Walton remembers poet, editor, and Brown University professor Michael Harper as a “secular priest”—of words and deeds and heart: For Michael, poetry was like psychoanalysis: a searching out and recovery of narratives, not just his own, but national and collective story lines and archetypes needed for America to find itself, own its history, see […]

...more

#RumiWasntWhite

By

At the Los Angeles Review of Books, screenwriter Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn makes a strong and timely case for Hollywood to quit casting big-name white actors no matter the role. Particularly egregious, and absurd, is the idea of Leonardo DiCaprio as the 13th century Persian poet Rumi. Armed with suggestions for brown actors, she points out wryly, […]

...more

Girlhood Comes Home to Roost

By

I think I always knew this story about the rural road where I grew up needed to be told. At the Believer, Annie DeWitt talks to Brandon Hobson about realism, ambiguity, and how her own childhood folds into her new novel, White Nights in Split Town City, out in August from Tyrant Books. Guiding lights […]

...more

Tome of Black Womanhood

By

One thing that interests me about Beyoncé is who her predecessors are, and how she’s a kind of symbol for all the different ways that black women are revered but also surveilled in a really intense way, put on display. Morgan Parker’s poetry collection, There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, comes out in 2017. […]

...more

Literary Layers

By

In her review of Cynthia Ozick’s new essay collection, Critics, Monsters, Fanatics, and Other Literary Essays, Zoe Heller quotes Ozick quoting Lionel Trilling in reference to Jonathan Franzen’s commercial-literary ambition: “a writer must ‘direct his words to his spiritual ancestors, or to posterity, or even, if need be, to a coterie.’” Heller is interested in […]

...more

On Publishers Big and Small

By

At the Atlantic, Nathan Scott McNamara provides an optimistic view of the symbiotic relationship between massive corporate publishers and small indie houses. Profiling energetic presses like Graywolf, Coffee House, Two Dollar Radio, and Dorothy, McNamara argues: …by inventing new models rather than trying to repeat past success, by valuing ingenuity over magnitude, by thinking of sales as […]

...more

Beware of Dog

By

At the Poetry Foundation, Sara Ivry interviews a host of poets on the occasion of Cave Canem’s twentieth anniversary. Robin Coste Lewis points to the brilliance of founders Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady in situating Cave Canem above the fray: We’re here to write and to write about our own experiences, our own cultures, sometimes, sometimes […]

...more

Wish List for More

By

Alice Gregory and Thomas Mallon request sequels in the New York Times Bookends column. After sifting through some recent, popular marriage novels like Fates and Furies and Gone Girl, Gregory declares her allegiance to Evan S. Connell’s Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge, which, “told in deadpan vignettes, are at once the saddest and funniest books […]

...more

An Interview Goes Both Ways

By

An unorthodox conversation, or experimental, two-way interview between Jesse Ball and Catherine Lacey at BOMB yields miscommunication, communication, repetition, randomness, push, pull, aphorism, and wisdom. On reading contemporary literature, Ball says: There’s something pernicious about work that is from your specific time because of all the prejudices that are invisible at this moment… I think we’re […]

...more

Moore for the Digital Age

By

There’s a way in which poets are always ahead of their time, if they’re good enough to be universal. At The Poetry Foundation, Alexandra Pechman describes how Marianne Moore’s poetry was always in play, never finished or frozen: “Her habits of research and revision presaged the far-reaching sourcing and pliability that defines writing made in […]

...more

C.E. Morgan’s Three Rs: Readers, Regionalism, and Race

By

“There is an extraordinary freedom to make your own intellectual choices that’s part of the reading process,” says C.E. Morgan, of her readers and her own reading process, in conversation with Lisa Lucas of the National Book Foundation. Lucas has big questions for Morgan, such as, “What is your desired relationship between the reader and […]

...more

The Zen of Twins

By

Clay Byars—author of Will & I, his recently released memoir about being an identical twin—tackles big life questions and the writing process with Drew Broussard for FSG Originals. Edited by Byars’s friend John Jeremiah Sullivan, Will & I explores “the sense that I was more than myself,” as a twin, as Byars puts it, and the meta-conscious act […]

...more

Tour of Today

By

We follow Heffernan through the Smithsonian Natural Museum of Internet History, as she annotates the exhibits: the Kindle, with its lithe design and endless supply of books, usurper of the printed word; the MP3, compressing the rapture and idiosyncrasies of your favorite music, destroyer of the music business and the listening experience; YouTube, standing among […]

...more

Cosmically Illegal

By

At the Kenyon Review blog, Brian Michael Murphy celebrates the sheer density of reference and intricate structuring of rap lyrics revealed by a computer program, The Raplyzer, and its Rhyme Factor Scale. Murphy dissects the lyric genius of Wu-Tang’s Inspectah Deck and others: I remember the feeling from when I was 16, the sense that […]

...more

Free Rant

By

Pete Ross takes huge issue with the infiltration of content marketers and voracious “personal brand” builders at Medium and elsewhere. His point is clear: writing is more than posturing to sell yourself as a writer: All you’re trying to do is get a dopamine response from people, in turn getting a dopamine response yourself through […]

...more