Reviews

The new black poetry

Jerome Ellison Murphy

These days, work by younger black poets frequently flaunts its formal pyrotechnics and its spirited immersion in specialized disciplines.

A new way to write trauma

Maggie Doherty

An audience is rarely a blank screen, and a speaker is usually aware of what an audience demands or expects.

Four recent books make length a virtue

Stephanie Burt

How would it feel to enter the world not as someone who wants to control and to understand it, but as someone who sets out to improvise, to collaborate, to play?

For Susan Sontag, style was nourishment

Brian Dillon

Style is history. Style is experience. It is not opposed to content. It is a way of eating the world.

Revisiting Robert Lowell’s infamous book

Dan Chiasson

He wanted a book to cause a crisis, as part of its very logic.

Anne Boyer diagnoses the lies we still tell about cancer

Laura Kolbe

Sickness and writing are the dual nemeses of hustle and thrift, and provide the wary meeting grounds for debt and extravagance.

A photograph and its afterlife

Jim Lewis

Let me begin by pointing out that much of what makes it so good is that it’s so incontestably bad.

James Trilling

An exhibition on the life and work of a writer–as distinct from a visual artist–is an exercise in magical thinking.

Marta Figlerowicz

Hannah Arendt loved this book, and it is easy to see why. It shares Arendt’s stiff upper lip without spiraling into her compatriot Theodor Adorno’s hopelessness. 

Stephen Yenser

Feel Free stands out today partly because of its formal and technical command and partly because of its conflicting desiderata: its poems want to be at once economical and impulsive, controlled yet digressive.

Dewey Faulkner

If carefully chosen, a film can be as good a basis for a successful opera as any other narrative. 

Elizabeth Leake

These are the emotional stakes of the film: the encounter between Wolfgang and Angelica’s ruralist worldview and modern, consumer society.

Charles Taylor

If Gravity was an epic film told intimately, Cuarón’s latest film, Roma, is an intimate story told on an epic scale.

David Galef

Englander is tender toward his people, sympathetic to pain suffered, while also wise to the pain they inflict on others. 

Stephanie Burt

Blackness isn’t darkness, but both qualities drive The Tradition: African American heritage and mystery, past and future, pride and fear. 

Timothy Young

Music as a form of expression has long experienced the push and pull related to identity. 

Ayten Tartici

Making an artistic choice is fateful, almost synonymous with selective forgetting, and it is into this critical context that the Oscar-winning director Barry Jenkins enters with the first-ever adaptation of Baldwin’s fiction in If Beale Street Could Talk (2018).

Martha Nussbaum on Our Political Crisis

Feisal G. Mohamed

The Monarchy of Fear does not offer a compelling analysis of our political moment. It is a spectator’s view of a shipwreck. 

Marta Figlerowicz

Pervaded with a sense of meaningless loss, the narrative that follows is offered as a placeholder for a life that was not allowed properly to unravel.

Stephen Yenser

To an American, he sometimes recalls Frost, and Yvor Winters and his cohort, but he has a flair for the aleatory, and while Frost himself likes to undermine and enigmatize his forthrightness, Paterson often features that predilection. 

Dewey Faulkner

Unlike the women undone by opera in real life, Nilsson simply got on with making her life in it, successfully. 

Richard Deming

If you have seen a Warhol–and who in America hasn’t?–it undoubtedly appears in the show, in some form or other.

Roy Scranton

Coming to terms with the fact of climate change was among the most significant events in my intellectual life.

Ayten Tartici

Can a white Christian girl from New England accurately portray the consciousness of a male Muslim immigrant?

Christopher Spaide

Posing existential questions, Smith answers with further questions, explicit and unspoken (what’s a worse cause of death: the immutable circumstances of your birth and skin color, or a chance meeting with an officer of the law?).

Marit MacArthur

We are all trained throughout our lives, whenever we vocalize and someone makes comments about our voice, to then adjust it to match the culture’s expectations of how we should sound.

Charles Taylor

The seemingly unremarkable experience of showing an audience characters talking or just going about their lives may, given the current state of American movies, be something close to defiance.

James Ellroy

I’m here to recommend a hot evening alone with them. I will justify the profane and disingenuous tone of this review by hipping you to four great performances of four great pieces of music.

Hollie Harder

For readers familiar with the Search, Weber’s study has the feel of both a delicious guilty-pleasure read and a penetrating, clear-sighted piece of literary commentary.

Abigail Deutsch

For Kushner, everything is admissible–not just Romy’s state of mind but also her victim’s, and even the internal chatter of the girl whose tattoo instructed Romy to pipe down.