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The Engine of Self-Knowledge: On Maggie Millner’s “Couplets”

CONFESSION’S SYMBOLIC IMPORT was legible to me, even as a child. As a Catholic sacrament, it typically begins at the age of reason, or roughly between the ages of six and eight, and it is required before a young person (or a new convert) can fully participate in the church. An earnest six-year-old, I prepared for weeks, keeping track of my transgressions....

The Second First Love: On Maggie Millner’s “Couplets”

ADOLESCENCE, THAT alchemical torment, is a time few of us wish to return to. We remember too well that maturity comes at a cost. And yet, stories of baptisms by fire are common and commonly loved. These coming-of-age tales have the narrative neatness of a hero’s journey — departure, risk, trial, disillusioned growth, humbled return. And who doesn’t...

Extraordinary Hustle: A Profile of Laure Calamy

LAURE CALAMY is late. Fifteen minutes late. I’m scheduled to be on my college campus in 40, and duly anxious that I’ll be late too. Making small talk on Zoom with her affable translator, I think about Calamy’s performance as Julie in Full Time, Éric Gravel’s new film about a single mom scrambling to find ways to and from work during a Paris rail strike....

They Toss Bodies at You: On Mariana Enríquez’s “Our Share of Night”

“TE TIRAN MUERTOS,” Mariana Enríquez writes in Our Share of Night, the hotly anticipated English translation of her 2019 Spanish-language novel. “In Argentina, they toss bodies at you.” This arresting line comes near the end of the almost 600-page novel, as a character grapples with having discovered that a loved one was kidnapped and tortured, their...

When Perry Miller Invented America: On Abram C. Van Engen’s “City on a Hill”

I have now looked seriously at America from both sides, West and East, and wish to Hell this country could say what, in the realm of ideas, it means commensurate with its force. — Perry Miller in letter, September 14, 1952 SEVERAL DAYS after the Allied invasion at Normandy, a Harvard historian and agent in the US Office of Strategic Services named...

All Despotisms Must End: On Lydia Moland’s “Lydia Maria Child”

TO A LITERARY COMMUNITY that was left largely speechless after the 2016 election, I address these questions: At what point, exactly, do plots and attacks on democratic institutions (and often Democrats) — such as the January 6 insurrection, the in-home assault on the husband of former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the plan to kidnap Michigan governor...

I’m Looking to Jump Ship Sooner Than I Should: A Conversation with Percival Everett

EACH YEAR, the Los Angeles Review of Books, in partnership with the Creative Writing Department at University of California, Riverside, honors a contemporary writer for their fearless, highly original work, lifelong public service, and commitment to rearing the next generation of young writers. This year, we proudly present the Lifetime Achievement...

Graphic Medicine: Comics Redraw Health Narratives

PICTURE YOURSELF at a birthday party. It’s held outdoors behind a charming cabin; lush trees and sprawling plants surround the partygoers, who crowd the porch and mingle in the backyard. Yet amid the merriment, there’s a young woman in distress. Eyes weeping and face sagging, the woman’s breathing becomes labored. Each breath is a tight, ragged puff...

A Poem That Is a Witness: On Vasyl Makhno’s “Paper Bridge”

GATHERING PERSONAL POEMS that communicate the present Ukrainian experience, Vasyl Makhno’s Paper Bridge (translated by Olena Jennings and published by Plamen Press in October 2022) presents a witness account to heartbreak, wandering, hopelessness, and endurance. Instead of dwelling on suffering, however, the poems’ speakers transform their excruciating...

De’Shawn Charles Winslow’s “Decent People”

Subscribe on Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud Do you love listening to the LARB Radio Hour? Support the production of this weekly podcast on books, art, and culture. Donate today. Kate Wolf and Eric Newman are joined by author De’Shawn Charles Winslow to speak about his novel, Decent People. The book is set in the fictional small town of West Mills,...

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