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Protagonists

This essay is excerpted from the author’s memoir-in-progress, The Vulgar American. In May of 2019, I’d been living in the U.K. for four months, and suddenly I was hearing a lot less frequently from my mom. She wasn’t feeling well. She was often at the doctors. She was losing weight. Having trouble keeping food down. They kept prescribing her things...

The Evolution of the Asterisk

At Lapham’s Quarterly, Claire Cock-Starkey traces the history of the asterisk, from its appearance in medieval texts to its modern-day use in footnotes and pseudo-censorship. “The asterisk (often used interchangeably with the dagger or obelus) persisted as an editing mark but was also frequently used as a caveat,” she writes, “showing that the passage...

Intimate Strangers: Reading Airport Essays During a Pandemic

1.On a flight from Tijuana to Mexico City, I sat next to a woman who told me in Spanish that she was scared of flying, and grabbed my hand when the plane leapt. When the plane touched down she hugged me. On a flight from D.C. to San Diego, I sat next to a college student who noticed that I was feverish. When I returned to my seat after throwing...

Enjoying the Freedom from Scrutiny with Leanne Shapton

At the Creative Independent, Leanne Shapton looks back on her work, which ranges from novels to illustrated books, and reflects on the freedom that allows her to create. “I just really think a lot of my work slips between the cracks,” Shapton says. “I get a little pay here and there, but I feel lucky that it doesn’t have to stand up against something...

Ten Genre-Bending Story Collections

I remember my local library as a sea of books—borderless, a drowning by story that I entered into every Saturday and emerged afterwards from its delicious depths having been visited equally by mermaids, heroes, childhoods, and histories. That books were separated into categories and genres was not something that occurred to me until I was older, and...

Tuesday New Release Day: Starring Lee, Henkin, Fung, and More

Here’s a quick look at some notable books—new titles from Jonathan Lee, Joshua Henkin, Keenan Norris, and more—that are publishing this week. Want to learn more about upcoming titles? Then go read our most recent book preview. Want to help The Millions keep churning out great books coverage? Then become a member today. The Great Mistake by Jonathan...

Applying Emerson to Post-Pandemic Friendships

At The New Yorker, Jane Hu reflects on how the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson have allowed her to see post-pandemic friendships in a new light. “To be decent to one of your friends, Emerson suggests, is to be decent to all of them,” Hu writes. “This might sound obvious, but its logic lately has played out for me during quarantine, when anxious projections...

That’s What Language Can Do: The Millions Interviews Pádraig Ó Tuama

“Faith shelters some,” Pádraig Ó Tuama writes, “and it shadows others.” We are lucky—those of us who are believers, and those of us who are not—when our theologians are poets. Ó Tuama makes me think about belief, God, and language in such a jarring, revelatory way. Afterward, I don’t want to return to my tired assumptions.  I felt invited...

Nightcap with Gian

This is a story I now wish I could revisit in more precise detail, the way I’d read work on the written page. We were not really friends, and he did not publish me; I never sent any writing his way. I doubt he’d have recognized me years later and to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have recognized him either, despite our having been in the same room more...

In Search of the Impossible with Sabrina Orah Mark

At the Creative Independent, Sabrina Orah Mark shares how her writing style evolved over the years, and how the blurring of poetry and prose gave her freedom to explore. “I think when I started writing prose poems,” Mark says, “that was when I felt like I could have the real and the unreal live inside of a little box together. Charles Simic talks about...

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