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Jennifer Firestone's Story

What is the difference between a narrative and a story, the poem asks, and also perhaps: Is poetry uniquely positioned to explore this difference?


Jeremy Griffin is a writer of absolute power, and I say that as someone who desperately wishes not to write that. No one is more frustrated to write about this book's excellence than I.

Ander Monson's I Will Take the Answer and The Gnome Stories

Most writers are delighted to publish a first book and then a few years later a second—Ander Monson, who admittedly is not much like most writers, has taken to publishing two at a time. His two latest entries into this already formidable oeuvre include a collection of essays, I Will Take the Answer and a book of short stories, The Gnome Stories.

Deb Olin Unferth's Barn 8

Deb Olin Unferth's Barn 8 starts out seemingly as the narrative of two women— but eventually it becomes clear that this book isn’t so much about the human characters but instead about the animals, specifically the hens: long-suffering, much smarter than we give them credit for, abused beyond comprehension, and ultimately transcendent.

Bohumil Hrabal's All My Cats

In Bohumil Hrabal’s memoir All My Cats, the limits—of empathy, of understanding, of life and death—are distended as Hrabal attempts to chart and to pilot the intense disgust he feels for a life that has, in his eyes, necessitated an outcome of violence.

Girl, Woman, Other

That familiarity is what I’d emphasize. Myself, I love what’s outré and of-the-moment about Girl, Woman, Other. I was at once won over by its fast and loose way with the English sentence, quasi-colloquial, with minimal punctuation and capitalization, sometimes breaking down into short stacks of single lines. Yet it doesn’t take an aesthete to find the prose accessible. Anyone can appreciate Evaristo’s sensitivity to the passions in her people.

In Conversation

MARTÍN ESPADA with Alex Dueben

Poet, essayist, translator and editor Martín Espada discusses the new anthology What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2020

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