Category: Reader

  • Review: The Long Run: A Creative Inquiry

    Review: The Long Run: A Creative Inquiry

    D’Erasmo has instead created the clearest example of the old writing saw “show, don’t tell” for a book about sustaining one’s creativity when the demands of family, the necessity of paid work, and the maintenance of friendships drain the energy you would otherwise put into art. She interviews a variety of artists—composers, dancers, actors, writers—who…

  • Review: Concerning the Future of Souls

    Review: Concerning the Future of Souls

    Concerning the Future of Souls is a follow-up of sorts to Joy Williams’s 99 Stories of God. Both contain ninety-nine very short stories—in one case that I can think of, a single word—that might be called prose poems or (very) short stories or microfictions or, as Maggie Nelson called them in her Bluets, propositions. The…

  • Summer Reading Adventure Week 4

    Summer Reading Adventure Week 4

    Welcome to week three of our reading adventures, courtesy of the National Book Foundation’s reading challenge. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Wingback to read along and comment, and be entered to win volumes 1 and 2 of Memoirs of a French Courtesan at the end of the summer.

  • Best Dressed: How Cinderella Got into the Ball

    Best Dressed: How Cinderella Got into the Ball

    I’ve been thinking about balls a lot lately, thanks to my translation of Memoirs of a French Courtesan Volume 2: Spectacle. The author, Céleste Mogador, attends her first ball as young woman and eventually earns fame and her sobriquet, Mogador, while dancing with and for all the high-born young men in Paris.

  • Summer Reading Adventure Week 3

    Summer Reading Adventure Week 3

    Welcome to week three of our reading adventures, courtesy of the National Book Foundation’s reading challenge. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Wingback to read along and comment, and be entered to win volumes 1 and 2 of Memoirs of a French Courtesan at the end of the summer.

  • Summer Reading Adventure Week 2

    Summer Reading Adventure Week 2

    Welcome to week two of our reading adventures, courtesy of the National Book Foundation’s reading challenge. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Wingback to read along and comment, and be entered to win volumes 1 and 2 of Memoirs of a French Courtesan at the end of the summer.

  • Review: Godwin

    Review: Godwin

    Godwin Joseph O’Neill Pantheon, June 2024, $28 How did I get this book: NetGalley ARC There are two things to know about me before I begin this book review: I have been thinking about race, business, and sports since former NBA star and Portland Trailblazer Rasheed Wallace gave a blistering interview to The Oregonian in…

  • Summer Reading Adventure Week 1
  • A Summer Reading Adventure! Let’s Do It!

    A Summer Reading Adventure! Let’s Do It!

    I’m going to post updates here all summer, including resources, additional details, and links to the subscribers-only posts. Let’s get reading! I am probably going to regret this, because who has the time? I have freelance work to do, and a thesis to research, and reviews to write, and this newsletter to keep up. Do…

  • Today Was a Good Day

    Today Was a Good Day

    As I opened my book to read for a while before going to bed, I realized I had had a very good day. I made a list in my bullet journal to remind myself what made it good; I thought it might be worth sharing and spelling out—briefly!—why these were good things. The Morning Run…

  • Review: The Understory

    Review: The Understory

    The UnderstorySaneh Sangsuk, translated by Mui PoopoksakulDeep Vellum, March 2024, $17.95How did I get this book? Library There are a few basic questions to ask of any book, and The Understory answers them in intriguing ways. Questions like: Does this book use paragraphs? No! Is there a plot line to follow? Not so much! Is…

  • Review: Seven Steeples

    Review: Seven Steeples

    I wrote this more than a year ago and apparently never published it. So enjoy! Seven Steeples Sara Baume HarperCollins, April 2022, $18.99 How did I get this book? Library There are many good reasons to read a book where nothing much happens. If your own life has a lot happening, a quiet book can…

  • Review: I Cheerfully Refuse

    Review: I Cheerfully Refuse

    I Cheerfully RefuseLeif EngerApril 2024, Grove Press, $28 The most effective post-apocalyptic fiction and climate fiction (cli-fi) doesn’t feature One Big Disaster that annihilates half the population and resources of the Earth with a Galactus-like snap. These stories are more like mid-apocalypse, and so more realistic, and maybe more existentially frightening. It’s difficult to imagine…

  • Bonus Post: Books for Black History Month

    Bonus Post: Books for Black History Month

    We get a bonus day in February this year, which seems as good a day as any to share a bonus post from The Wingback. I’ve put together a quick list of a half-dozen titles by Black authors that immediately spring to mind as favorites. You can find all of these books (plus a few…

  • Ineffectual Thorns

    Ineffectual Thorns

    I recently pruned my roses, as I do every February. I used to do this on or after Valentine’s Day, but climate change is real and upon us, so now this chore gets done at the beginning of February. It’s a pleasant chore, the kind that makes a noticeable and immediate difference when it’s done.…

  • Hold, Please…

    Hold, Please…

    I regret to inform you, dear readers, that I wrote an essay for The Wingback at the last minute, and it was absolute shit. So rather than pass that off as anything you might possibly want to read, I am posting a picture of my dog being impatient about her walk time. If you’re looking…

  • Hot Takes on Cold English

    Hot Takes on Cold English

    When winter storms bring the city to a halt, I apparently think of poetry, which I’m kind of surprised to learn about myself. In 2021, when ice encapsulated every twig and leaf of every tree and shrub and bent them to the ground, I thought of Robert Frost’s “Birches.” This year, as a storm that…

  • 2023 Reading Review

    2023 Reading Review

    Let’s start this reading review with the stat that most people use: I read 52 books this year. A tidy average of one a week. Several of those were for school; a couple of them were for a class I ended up not taking. Nearly a dozen of these books were by Annie Ernaux because…

  • A Writer’s Vacation

    A Writer’s Vacation

    In honor of this being Labor Day weekend, the last three-day weekend of summer, let’s look at “The Writer on Vacation,” a short essay by Roland Barthes contained in his collection Mythologies. In the summer of 1954, a footnote in the 2013 edition of the book says, the right-leaning newspaper Le Figaro asked French writers…

  • Agency of Influence

    Content warning: quick mentions of suicide and depression Spoilers: The Girl Who Was Plugged In, James Tiptree, Jr., 1973 In December 2022, Channel 4 in the UK reported on the very bad factory conditions of Shein (pronounced shee-in), a fast-fashion clothing company. Given that during Shein’s July Fourth holiday sale a plain t-shirt was on…

  • Digging into Metaphors

    Digging into Metaphors

    I’ve been reading The New Life by Tom Crewe, a novel about gender and sexuality and the cultural expectations of domestic life in 1890s London—to put it in a very small and inadequate nutshell. It’s a very good book, one I would very much recommend (content warning: sex scenes). However, this is not a review…