Essays In Criticism

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In light of that fact—and it is a fact; I have been conscious ever since childhood that one day I’d have to sacrifice autonomy for family or the other way around—the messages stuffed down women’s throats seem almost callously optimistic. Her writing has appeared in A Public Space, Mc Sweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, West Branch, Virginia Quarterly Review, NOON, The New York Times Book Review, and Bookforum, among many others.

The way Claudia Rankine writes about race so plainly and with such profundity and grace overwhelms me.

An economic downturn in 2008 shuttered numerous publications and further marginalized people of color in an already minimally integrated industry.

But in the 90’s and early-aughts, multicultural publications flourished, providing an alternative model for journalism that bears remembering.

choices between American Girl identities (were you a Molly? The cruelty and the magnificence of it are inextricable.

She writes about “the grace of my parents, for whom exposing me to brutal stories was an act of love.” Stories can be transposed; every word here evolves the question forward.What a magnificent thing to say about another human being. They were deliberately expensive—drawing on a subconscious premium we place on the American lifestyle pre-Civil Rights—and of course, save Addy, all the American Girls were white. The slim book that introduces her, , tells the story of a slave owner forcing a worm into the mouth of his property, that dark-skinned and adorable American girl.I will never think about power or gentleness in the same way again. With a deadly calm and phenomenal focus, Brit Bennett’s piece turns over the weight of this shifty juxtaposition—the black doll’s tragedy as a source of joy.Wood’s magisterial style surpasses that of almost anything he might pick up to review.And yet he only seems to add to one’s admiration of a book even as he dismantles and demystifies it.Another biography of Bellow, another excuse for all the East Coast magazines to pontificate on the most laureled man in American letters.Yet, Louis Menand’s piece in The New Yorker is essential for its crisp, short sentences and his incidental insight.Each line is full of patient rage as Rankine outlines the reality of being black in America, and the losses we continue to sustain without respite.The word that keeps coming to mind each time I read this essay is, necessary. “Grief, then, for these deceased others might align some of us, for the first time, with the living.” “How Not to Be Elizabeth Gilbert by Jessa Crispin” was one of the best pieces of criticism I read this year.In her essay, Crispin is incisive and provocative, particularly in examining the notion that women can only be experts on themselves.This essay, frankly, made me uncomfortable, but I appreciated that discomfort and expanding my thinking.


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