Everything I Never Told You

Everything I Never Told You

Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You is an excavation of a family’s secrets. The concept underpinning the narrative – that each member of the family operates under a series of misunderstandings of each other’s intentions and the meaning of their life’s events that individually and collectively serve as the catalyst for further hurt and confusion […]

Commonwealth; Or: We All Had Something Else In Mind

I was three-quarters finished with Ann Patchett’s new book, Commonwealth, when everything changed for the people I love. After three years of waiting, hoping, and trying to adopt, my friends’ baby girls were born too small and too soon. They were here, just for a moment, and then gone. A tragedy like this breaks you […]

Five Days at Memorial; Or: Holy Shit, You Guys

This week we commemorated the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, but many of us may have forgotten that early September brings us the anniversary of another national tragedy. After reaching a maximum strength of a Category 5 storm, Hurricane Katrina made landfall over New Orleans as a Category 3 storm on the morning […]

The Problem With Privilege

I am white, well-educated, comfortably middle-class. This country was made by people who look like me for people who look like me. Its systems work great for people like me. It has allowed me to be upwardly mobile, to essentially live out the idealized American Dream without much more in my way than a little […]

The Mutual Exclusivity of Scalia’s Brilliance and Goodness

There’s an old rhetorical exercise that asks how God can be both all-powerful and all-loving when pain and tragedy exist in the world. Christians have some bullshit workaround for this logical impossibility that I don’t remember (one of the benefits of being an atheist is you don’t have to carry that shit around in your head […]

Ninth Ward; Or, The “Resilience” Narrative of Poverty Reduction Can Fuck Right Off

Jewell Parker Rhodes’ Ninth Ward is a work of art in content and cover. Ninth Ward’s Lanesha is a 12-year old girl abandoned by her relatives and raised by the elderly midwife who birthed her, her mother having died in childbirth. Lanesha has “the sight,” an ability to perceive that which is beyond the physical. […]

State of Wonder; Or, The Origin of a Miracle

Ann Patchett blew me away with Bel Canto and The Patron Saint of Liars; she continued in this tradition with State of Wonder. In State of Wonder, our protagonist, Marina, is a Minnesota-born Indian-American pharmacologist who works for a major pharmaceutical company. Her company is pouring unlimited funds into the research and development of a […]

The Girl Who Fell From The Sky

Tolstoy tells us in the first line of Anna Karenina that all happy families are the same. I think the same is true about books, except in reverse. There are an infinite number of ways to write deeply moving, complex stories about interesting and relatable characters, and there are exactly two ways* to attempt to do […]

On The Confederate Flag; Or, God Save The South

It is not okay to revere the Confederate flag for any reason, full stop. There is no nuance to be appreciated, or perspective to be understood, or context within which it can be placed that makes honoring, respecting, or revering the flag right or good or even tolerable. After the terrorist attack at Emanuel A.M.E. […]