Nonfiction

Eugenia Bell

“When you make a photograph,” she said, “it is very much a picture of your own self.”

A Painter’s Letters Home

Shifra Sharlin

When the reason for the city is safety, it becomes a fortress against those deemed unworthy of its protection.

Oana Sanziana Marian

Before there’s an anxiety, there’s an excitement of influence. 

Peter Matthiessen’s Bigfoot

Jeff Wheelwright

Peter had told almost no one about his fascination with Bigfoot.

Giovanni Gioviano Pontano

Ostentation sets itself head on against this truth which is involved with conversation, civil intercourse, and the life of men.

Jennifer Acker 

Fortunately, the number of American novels starring intermarriages is growing. But has art caught up with life? Yes and no. 

Listening to Opus 110

Mark Mazullo

How is it that the work of art, when I arrive at a new understanding of it, having chased down yet another horizon of meaning, is already there waiting for me, meaning what it has always meant…

Ann Petry’s The Street and The Narrows

Emily Bernard

There is no novel more satisfying to teach in the age of #MeToo than The Street.

“An Occasion” for Thin[g]king

Karin Roffman

Ashbery’s enthusiasm for Stein’s collecting instincts seemed initially to eclipse his appreciation for her poetry. 

Matthew Spellberg 

A society that seems to have lost interest in myth is a society in ignorance of its effect.

Excerpts from In Remembrance of Things Past

Gerard Malanga

If I had my way I would’ve used the photo booth almost exclusively for portraiture

Carolyn Forché

We had developed a signal to let each other know when all was well: two rings followed by silence. Now, after three rings, I picked up.

Nan Z. Da 

Sometimes you are shown something, and it goes right to your heart like poison.

Martin Hägglund

Life cannot make sense as life without death. Only a finite life can make sense as a life

Peter Brooks

They had been judged to have committed crimes. But what kinds of choice did they have in that?

Thomas Pynchon’s “The Secret Integration” and The Saturday Evening Post

Terry Reilly

Pynchon uses the form of an apparently simple, entertaining adolescent boys’ story to engage and then to manipulate the Post readers.

Leon Trotsky

Not every exasperated petty bourgeois could have become Hitler, but a particle of Hitler is lodged in every exasperated petty bourgeois.

Renée DiResta

As Lenin purportedly put it, “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” In the era of computational propaganda, we can update that aphorism: “If you make it trend, you make it true.”

Reginald Dwayne Betts 

When people call me formerly incarcerated or a returning citizen, I do not feel like they are less likely to deny me employment, or housing, or to shake my hand.

Francine Prose 

Try as I might, I can no longer see the beauty that overlays the horror; all I can see is the horror.

Jabari Asim

“Hmph!” That single syllable epitomized the tangled web encompassing whites’ misdeeds and the desire for absolution from the people they’ve wronged.

Cailin O’Connor

James Owen Weatherall

The propagandist’s message is most effective when it comes from voices we think we can trust.

Frederick Douglass

David W. Blight

Late in 1854, and especially during the first half of 1855, Frederick Douglass spent many weeks at his desk writing his ultimate declaration of independence, My Bondage and My Freedom, his second, more thorough and revealing autobiography.

Deborah Baker

Hatibagan, 139 Cornwallis Street, Calcutta, Early Twentieth Century

Calcutta, the capital of the province of Bengal, was once known as the Second City of Empire. Like London, the First City of Empire, it sat astride a river, the Hooghly, that carried traffic rivaling the Thames.

Tom Sleigh

Words

I wanted to blow up the tanks of words, the RPGs of words, the bayonets of words that had only

one definition, one derivation, one root that went back before  .  .  .

Lyric Distance in Owen’s “Anthem for Doomed Youth”

Adam Keller

In the preface to his then unpublished oeuvre, Wilfred Owen characterized his poems as elegies, a move that has sparked much debate among his few devoted critics about the generic boundaries of his work.

or, Foam on the Wave

Lily Tuck

On my mother’s side, I am related to the Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn was born in Dessau, Germany, in 1729. By the age of six, despite many health problems, which included scoliosis, he had learned the entire Bible by heart.

Ilan Stavans

Susan Sontag, in an essay called “Afterlives” published in The New Yorker in 1990, called Joaquin Maria Machado de Assis, who, along with journalist Euclides da Cunha, was Brazil’s most famous nineteenth-century literary figure  .  .  . 

J. D. McClatchy

Because I was the eldest child in my family, and because my father was off fighting in the Pacific, my mother kept an elaborate Baby Book, recording my earliest this and latest that. A few years ago, in a forgotten attic box, she discovered the book and sent it to me.

J. D. McClatchy

I hesitate before starting with this particular detail. I want to begin with what for me was a simple fact but what to others may seem a tiresome metaphor. The psychiatrists didn’t invent this metaphor, but I suppose they helped popularize and therefore trivialize it.