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Review: Max Ritvo, Four Reincarnations

“The bed is on fire, and are you laughing?” With the first line of Max Ritvo’s stunning collection, we are welcomed into a world where sorrow and joy, desire and loss, cannot be untangled. The opening poem, “Living It Up,” is a perfect introduction to the poet’s singular and extraordinary mind: The springs want to embrace each other but they’re… Read more →

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Review: Perfect Little World, by Kevin Wilson

It starts simple: Izzy has just graduated high school and is pregnant with her art teacher’s baby. She lives with her alcoholic father and makes $13,000 a year smoking barbecue at The Whole Hog. The art teacher’s wealthy mother, desperate to maintain her family’s reputation, offers to help make the situation disappear. In another writer’s hands, this novel would continue… Read more →

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Review: Cold Pastoral, by Rebecca Dunham

Rebecca Dunham’s newest poetry collection, Cold Pastoral, begins with a poem entitled “Mnemosyne to the Poet.” As opening to a collection that documents disaster—both man-made and ecological—Mnemosyne laments, “For you, memory is but / an oil lamp to snuff,” and later, “I am not permitted / / to turn…Am not permitted / to learn how not to look.” So stands… Read more →

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An Interview with Lydia Davis

By Caitlin Fitzpatrick In October 2016, Lydia Davis—who has published six collections of stories, translated both Flaubert and Proust, and is a recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant—spent a month at UVa as the Kapnick Distinguished Writer-in-Residence. For those of us who love to read or write, her work needs little introduction. What fans of Davis might not know, however, is… Read more →

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Review: Kayla Rae Whitaker, The Animators

To borrow a phrase from its main character, this book is “a story of consumption.” Hunger—for sex, love, high art, truth, authentic experience—drives the narrative, wavering between hollow pain, satisfaction, and over-indulgence. The Animators is at first wild, wicked fun. As it progresses, the work deepens to the profound. You’ll fall for the two main characters—animation partners, friends so close… Read more →

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Review: Rachel Cusk, Transit

In Murray Bail’s 1998 novel Eucalyptus, the narrator describes the action at the center of the book as ‘a mosaic of necessary slowness.’ This is a declaration of form on Murray’s part, an attempt to say: this pace is deliberate, and what’s more, be patient. While Rachel Cusk makes no similar declaration in Transit, it would perhaps be appropriate to… Read more →

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Review: Elif Batuman, The Idiot

Elif Batuman’s novel The Idiot can be described as a 432-page expansion of five pages from her first book, a nonfiction collection called The Possessed. In the novel, as in the essay, a Turkish-American Harvard freshman falls in love with a Hungarian classmate who secures the narrator-protagonist a summer gig teaching English in Hungary so she can visit him in… Read more →