Anti-Escapist Literature:
Anxiety in Fiona Maazel’s
A Little More Human
by Michelle Hogmire

Near the conclusion of Fiona Maazel’s present-day tragicomedy, A Little More Human (Graywolf, April 2017), our hero Phil Synder returns to a toy store where he used to work weekends. Phil, an almost middle-aged Staten Islander, is going through a rough patch, mostly involving a

Review – Let us Live Fully: On Caits Meissner’s Let It Die Hungry by Jahan Mantin

The title of Caits Meissner’s second book of poetry, Let It Die Hungry, conjures up images of a mother’s wizened breast, taunting the open mouth of her famished child. In reality, Meissner’s sensual collection of poems, notes, drawings and writing prompts leave us full, satiated, and even

Emily Witt, author of Future Sex

Henri Lipton’s Burning Man and Wife: a review of Emily Witt’s Future Sex

“Burning Man and Wife”: Emily Witt’s Future Sex By Henri Lipton We are at a point in our culture where it is commonplace to peruse extensive collections of graphic and extravagant pornography, virtually seduce strangers, and chase nirvana in corporatized desert bacchanals, all with the

Review: Charlie Murphy

by Yvonne Kendall
No more Mr. Sidekick, Charlie Murphy killed.

no credit needed

Review: Alexandra Kleeman’s Experiential Fiction

Kleeman has artfully provided her reader with a book that, unlike many contemporary novels, relies on the reader as an active ingredient.

Review: Mirror, Mirror: Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels

Ferrante has demythologized female friendship, yielding a rubble of unflattering dialectics: envy and admiration, selfishness and generosity, a narcissism realized in the mirror of the best friend’s face. Intimacy, it seems, is as selfish as it is twain.

Review: A Tepid Tempest

It is downright unpatriotic to be a New Yorker and walk out on a performance at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater in the middle of a Shakespeare in the Park production. But that’s just what I did.

Review: Seeking Its Own Level: An Anthology of Writings About Water

What you get immediately after reading Seeking Its Own Level is a reminder that water has, does, and will always have a hold over us in some way, shape or form. Both good and bad can come out of our interactions with water, depending on how we use it or experience it.

Review: Bob Ziering

by Carla Stockton
In the new art, he is able to explore his emotions – universal human emotions – by telling visual tales, which he finds in his fellow humans, in animals, in burned piers and discarded chairs alike.

Review: The Best American Essays 2013

by Jaime R. Herndon
As in every anthology, some essays warranted more than one read, while others were skipped, and then read when the rest of the book was finished. But as a whole, this collection is sharp, compelling, and diverse.

Review: Mañana Means Heaven by Tim Z. Hernandez

by Gina Lujan Boubion
In October 1947, Jack Kerouac met a pretty, young Mexican woman named Bea Franco on a bus going from Bakersfield to Los Angeles. She was fleeing an abusive husband; he was gathering notes for what would become On The Road.

Review: What We’ve Lost is Nothing by Rachel Louise Snyder

by Carla Stockton
Anyone who’s ever been held up in any way will tell you that in the aftermath, such a transgression is alarmingly unnerving; it weakens our whole belief system by forcing us to face the fact that we live among those who wish us ill, who would take from us all that we possess if they could, who do not respect our common humanity.

Review: The Passions of Christ Exhibit

by Tomek Jedrowski
Everything about it exudes sensuality: the closeness of their bodies in the absence of eye contact, the shine of their polyester shirts, the shape of their torsos looming underneath.

Review: Critique of Pure Reason by Gabriel Blackwell

by Lilly O’Donnell
… Blackwell attempts to challenge the way we read a story in the same way Kant challenged the way we perceive the world, the number of assumptions we bring to any experience.

Review: The Crack-Up by F. Scott Fitzgerald

by Carla Stockton
The Fitzgerald of the essays is deafened by the noise of his flapper-dominated dreams and nightmares.

Review: Transatlantic by Colum McCann

by Angelica Baker
His characters find triumph not in the realization of their hopes, but rather in the acceptance of the hands that life ultimately deals them.

Review: Tumbledown by Robert Boswell

by Oren Smilansky
It reads like an even more ridiculous version of The Breakfast Club.

Review: The Guy Davenport Reader

by Adam Winters
Reading Guy Davenport is a joyous occasion for the curious.

Review: Fire and Forget anthology

by Elisabeth Sherman
… is it really cliché if this is what these people experienced?

Review: Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel

by Amy Feltman
All the elements of this novel that could usher in clichés instead somersault through our expectations.

Review: The Potty Mouth at the Table by Laurie Notaro

by Jaime R. Herndon
Life stories with humor interspersed in them, not stories of hobos or lists of things you don’t want to hear in a drugstore line that aren’t really funny.

Review: La Boutique Obscure by Georges Perec

by Javier Fuentes
We have come to know him as an author who thrives on constraint; here we are granted access to Perec in his freest incarnation.

Review: The Ethical Butcher by Berlin Reed

by Michael Gibney
Gray matter in hand, Berlin Reed makes quick work of showing us that he is not just another enthusiastic hobbyist—no, he’s elbows-deep in a craft that is obviously not for the lily-livered.

Review: Marcel Proust and Swann’s Way Exhibit

by Beth Livermore
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Swann’s Way, curator Antoine Campagnon borrowed from the Biblioteque Nationale de France a selection of the author’s notebooks, manuscripts, and galley proofs to “provide unique insight into Proust’s creative process and the birth of his masterpiece.”

Review: Trisha Brown Dance Company

by Mary Mann
A lot of modern dance is intentionally boring. It is willfully boring because we modern people need it to be. We have no time for boredom otherwise.

Review: Harlem by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak & Alice Attie

by Meghan Flaherty
The identities of the message-leavers and the intended recipients remain a mystery. Harlem is merely trying to provide a record. To catalogue certain of these bits of text as emblematic of a neighborhood perilously in flux. To mark the “moment of change.”

Review: Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell

by Jaime R. Herndon
The approaches of these eight stories are so different from each other and have such lives of their own that this is a book that almost defies description, in the best way possible.

Review: From White Plains by Michael Perlman

by Jaime Green
Michael Perlman’s new play explores homophobia, bullying, and public apologies fifteen years post-high school.

Review: A Fairly Arbitrary Field Guide to Underrated Latin American Writers

by Lucas Lyndes
Latin American fiction in translation has essentially had two watershed moments in the United States.

Review: Tenth of December by George Saunders

by Carmen Petaccio
Tenth of December is Saunders’s second best collection of short stories, and when I first wrote this sentence it was his third best, and as I near this sentence’s end I’m considering if it’s his best best.

Review: This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz

by Alexandra Watson
Díaz has the ability to blend diverse modes, code-switching between academic English, street English, Spanish, Dominican Spanish. Few other authors could pull off a sentence such as: “You pass each other a couple of times a week and she’s a pleasure to watch, a gazelle really — what economy, what gait, and what an amazing fucking cuerpazo.”

Review: Helmut Newton Retrospective

by Tomek Jedrowski
“I am very attracted by bad taste — it is a lot more exciting than that supposed good taste which is nothing more than a standardized way of looking at things.”
— Helmut Newton, 1987

Review: The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits

by Austen Rosenfeld
Witnesses of paranormal phenomena no longer belong to the fringes of society. Julavits’ alternate world institutionalizes astrology and magic practice as a dignified occupation, and mind-reading is a profession your Jewish mother would be proud of.

Review: Hilary Berseth Exhibit

by Ela Bittencourt
The sculptures were cacti-like formations, with soft curvatures and elegant flowing lines; the poetic manifestation of mathematical formulas embedded in the natural world.

Review: Paris Photo

by Tomek Jedrowski
Every year, photohysteria descends on Paris in the form of the world’s leading photography fair, Paris Photo.

Review: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

by Jaime R. Herndon
The incessant name-dropping of various authors, pop culture references and literary theories clutters the first part of the book. It makes the novel feel self-absorbed.

Review: Cyprien Gaillard Exhibit

by Alice Pfeiffer
The forgotten yet oddly spectacular spaces encourage viewers to reconsider their standards of beauty.

Review: No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

by Ella Delany
Yet the success of the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series suggests we are happy to leave reality tucked away.

Review: Inside By Alex Ohlin

by Yardenne Greenspan
As an MFA student, I find this book comforting.

Review: Summer 2010’s Greatest Hits

by Austen Rosenfeld
Rather than telling stories the“old- fashioned” way, a consistent forward-moving narrative revealed from a single protagonist, these books present their stories from multiple vistas, shifting first person accounts, retelling the same event via alternate realities. They are like various witnesses testifying to the same imaginary crime.