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Bleeding-Heart Conservatives

Why does a large swath of America’s working and middle class want to elect a rich braggart, a born aristocrat who has probably never done a day of honest work in his life, to the presidency?

The Masquerade of Bilingual Romance

On a recent trip to Ecuador, I met a couple whose marriage took place in both French and German. She was from Berlin and he was from Paris. They each spoke the other’s language fluently, if not flawlessly, and had decided to enforce an alternate-day system.

In Conversation


Chapbooks are magic. For those who read them, for those who publish them, for those whose work lives in them—we know this to be true. How exactly to pinpoint that magic or break it down, well, that would be revealing the trick. But even if we could, chapbooks aren’t objects to be explained.

Manderley Again

Gina Wohlsdorf’s Security contains at least two major stories, and while one of them is a fairly sweet love story about wounded folks who manage to find each other and their way, the other one is so unbelievably terrifying and fraught that it’s actually easy to overlook, or certainly attempt to speed through, the sweeter parts of this novel.

In Conversation

JOHN REED with Elizabeth Trundle

When I hear younger, single folks talk about marriage as if it were an end zone, a pearly departure gate from the waiting room of unsigned love, I often butt in with a passionate (and unwanted) speech about what really happens after the honeymoon. In my view, the wedding, or commitment ceremony, rolls out yearly from that initial, kissy contract. Every day asks you to commit a little more of your soul; if you’re a person like me, who finds commitment painful and perhaps even life-threatening, staying married can involve years of crossing romantic Rubicons.

In the Name of the Father, & the Son

Kevin Carey is a storyteller. He tells stories, he organizes them in verse, sometimes in couplets, other times without stanza breaks, without rhyme or an attention to meter. The story—“something human”—is what takes precedence and in an age where being cool, detached, ironic, and, oddly enough, intentionally arcane is the mode de vie, Carey’s new collection, Jesus Was A Homeboy, comes off as refreshingly warm and insightful, revealing snapshots of the poet’s life and reveling in the photo album’s re-framing

In Conversation

Hyphenated Identity: PETER HO DAVIES with Christopher Shade

In early September, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publish Peter Ho Davies’s fourth book, The Fortunes, a novel prompted by his desire to understand his Chinese heritage and Chinese-American experiences. This follows two story collections and the novel The Welsh Girl—a moving first novel concerning three characters in North Wales during the Second World War, including a German prisoner of war, which was long-listed for the Booker Prize. Now, The Fortunes recasts Chinese-American history through the lives of Chinese-American historical and fictional figures.

The Time Between

Periods of waiting are a fertile time for writing. In the lull between wishing and receiving, decision-making is drawn out. Belle Boggs’s essays are dispatches from this limbo.

The World From a Hotel Room

If traditional travelogues are obsessed with the history of people and places, or a complex portrait of the writer’s experience of a new environment, Neuman’s book is an adamant rejection of that more familiar mold. Instead of history, he focuses on the present; instead of reacting to new locales, he relates more quotidian endeavors—surfing a hotel’s TV options, filling out customs forms; instead of offering readers the chance to feast on his journeys, he presents them as a collection of enjoyable but ultimately unsatisfying nomadic amuse-bouches.

The Idea is Read About Rather Than Looked At

Chris Hosea’s Double Zero (Prelude, 2016) eludes the conventions of language and generic markers and alludes to pop and personal experience with an intensity and a haste that makes repeated readings a requirement, not a suggestion. Pay attention, Hosea seems to be saying, as he ricochets words off one another with no regard to syntax or narrative construction. It’s going to be worth it.

Not for Brooklyn in the First Place

Narrated by a young Irish immigrant named Liam, who arrives in Brooklyn from County Clare in 1915, Exile on Bridge Street chronicles the labor and ethnic strife that engulfed the borough’s immigrants and their children.

In Conversation

My Mother, Myself, and Mr. Rightstein
NANCY DAVIDOFF KELTON with Joseph Salvatore

The opening line of Nancy Davidoff Kelton’s new memoir, Finding Mr. Rightstein, is “My father in his coffin looked better than most of the men I dated.”


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2016

All Issues