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Fatal Ambition: Kazuo Ishiguro’s When We Were Orphans

This does in fact seem like the sort of advice that a vigilant agent or editor, concerned that Ishiguro’s stodgy image was becoming a liability, might issue. But there is a delicious Ishigurian irony to the possibility that the author concluded this all on his own, and decided that the answer lay in proactive plotting-a scenario all the more believable given what a disastrous piece of advice this appears to have been.

It All Started with Ma’ Teodora: Alejo Carpentier’s Music in Cuba

Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier (1904-1980) is well known for his novels The Lost Steps, Explosion in a Cathedral, The Harp and the Shadow, and, most notably, The Kingdom of This World, which opens with the phrase that allegedly launched the Latin American fiction boom: “for what is the history of Latin America but a chronicle of magical realism?”

The Flashboat: Poems Collected and Reclaimed

Poetry of a higher order courts two kinds of difficulty. The first is formal, connected with the degrees of ellipsis, or leaving out, that a poem can sustain and still be subject to understanding.

The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce

At a 25th wedding anniversary party last summer, I sat next to Katha Pollitt and found myself defending her divorce. Pollitt, a smart, volatile columnist for The Nation, had just read The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, the latest installment of Judith Wallerstein’s study of children whose parents split up in the 70s, but had not yet written her damning critiques of it.


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