Literary Hub4 min read
Teaching High School Students the Wildness of Poetry
In this monthly column for Lit Hub, I’ve been sharing the experiences of high school English teachers across the country—the joys, the struggles, what keeps us coming back to the classroom—trying to get to the heart of what Andre Dubus would write on
Literary Hub5 min read
Reading Across America: The Quirky Austin Reading Series for Works-in-Progress
I like hanging out in bars with writers. I’m not sure why—writers are not the easiest company. We’re more often than not a mixture of insecurity and awkward pretension. We’re introverts with a deep desire to be world-famous. We’re a wacky breed. Hang
Literary Hub9 min read
The Art of Surviving a Move to New York
In 2013, I moved to New York City alone. I had just divorced and graduated from the Iowa Writers Workshop. My first novel had been released—waiting for it had been my only remaining tether to a former life. With its release, my last connection to the
Literary Hub11 min read
Visiting Vojna: On The Horrors Of The Communist Regime In Czechoslovakia
Nobody goes to the gulag anymore. At least not in the Czech Republic. But it’s the first thing I need to see. So I take the train from Prague to Pribram, 50 miles to the south. It’s a beat-up old train, shabby carriages passing through crumbling stat
Literary Hub15 min read
Poet Diana Khoi Nguyen on Family and Writing a Radical Eulogy for Her Brother
For this installment of our interview series with contemporary poets, Peter Mishler corresponded with Diana Khoi Nguyen. A poet and multimedia artist, Diana Khoi Nguyen’s debut collection, Ghost Of (Omnidawn, 2018), was selected by Terrance Hayes for
Literary Hub7 min read
Miriam Toews on How Fiction Helps to Expose the Truth
This week, Kendra Winchester and Autumn Privett talk to Miriam Toews, the author of Women Talking, out now from Bloomsbury. From the episode: Kendra: I fell fast and hard for this novel, and I read it in one day. Another co-host, Jacqueline, she and
Literary Hub9 min read
Exploring the Forgotten Writerly Playground of the European Aristocracy
This excerpt from Orlando Figes’ new book, The Europeans, follows the influential 19th-century mezzo-soprano Pauline Viardot, and the Russian novelist (and Viardot’s frequent collaborator) Ivan Turgenev. * In 1863, the Viardots left France and made t
Literary Hub11 min read
The Yale Younger Poets Prize: A Microcosm of the American Poetry Landscape
As I read through the early volumes of the Yale Series of Younger Poets (1919-), so many of them by poets who had only recently graduated from college, and so many having been affected either by actual combat in World War I or by having come of age i
Literary Hub10 min read
A Day In The Life Of A Lion Tracker
Behind the wheel of the Landy, the engine sputters and chokes as I fire the ignition. A little puff of smoke in the clear air and we are off. Alex sits next to me and Renias sits up on a seat welded to the hood called the tracker seat. Cats often tra
Literary Hub5 min read
The Trial of Harry Houdini
Harry Houdini’s favorite escape was not an escape at all. It was a fight for honor. The odds really were against him, and skills he had perfected as an escape artist were of little use to him. But he won just the same, and Houdini never tired of tell
Literary Hub6 min read
The Gloriously Understated Career of Elaine Stritch
On the afternoon of November 17th, 2014, hundreds of people made their way through a dark rain toward the Al Hirschfeld Theater on West Forty-Fifth Street in New York City. Settling with a certain expectant jollity into its plush red seats were actor
Literary Hub12 min read
Alejandro Zambra On One Of The Great Diarists Of The 20th Century
It’s not easy to get a fix on Julio Ramon Ribeyro’s own face, since his appearance changed a lot from one photo to another: his hair long or short or half grown-out, with or without a cigarette, with or without a mustache, wearing a serious expressio
Literary Hub4 min read
On the Darkness, Strangeness, and Unbridled Joy of Children’s Books
The first novel I published with a major house was about a murder I covered as a reporter when I was in my early twenties. The victim, who was my age, and lived in my neighborhood, disappeared in the winter and her body was found in the summer in a s
Literary Hub10 min read
On the Countercultural Influence of Peanuts
Here’s where it begins for me: a four-panel strip, Lucy and Linus, simplest narrative in the universe. As the sequence starts, we see Lucy skipping rope and, like an older sister, giving Linus a hard time. “You a doctor! Ha! That’s a big laugh!” she
Literary Hub5 min read
Capturing Natural Coincidences, in Fiction and Life
At around 10:30 pm on October 9, 1963, a huge chunk of Monte Toc in northeastern Italy sheared off and dropped into an artificial lake created by the Vajont dam, constructed several years earlier. A marvel of modern engineering tucked into the cleft
Literary Hub7 min read
Do Printed-Out Emails Count As Letters? (Yes)
Lifting the lid from the thin gold box, I found my anniversary gift: a stack of papyrus-style paper on which my husband had printed the email correspondence of our early courtship. Well, half of it. During the 90s, emails were not yet recorded in con
Literary Hub3 min read
Chill Your Wine in John Steinbeck’s Silver Bucket
John Steinbeck, who won both a Pulitzer Prize (in 1940 for The Grapes of Wrath) and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962, died 51 years ago, and yet he is still making news. Last month, the Los Angeles Times reported that legal squabbling over his l
Literary Hub8 min read
On the Sexist Reception of Willa Cather’s World War I Novel
When Willa Cather’s fifth novel, One of Ours, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923, it was divisive among critics. Reviewing the book in The Smart Set, H.L. Mencken wrote that the first half, which is about protagonist Claude Weaver’s young adult years on
Literary Hub7 min read
The Diplomatic Gambit That Opened Cuba Up to the World
By the mid-1970s Fidel Castro’s relationship with the United States remained confrontational and diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US had not been restored. When Jimmy Carter was elected president of the United States in 1976, however, he bro
Literary Hub5 min readPsychology
Marguerite Duras: Internet Essayist?
Marguerite Duras, whose 1984 novel The Lover is sometimes credited as an early work of autofiction, tends to repeat herself. “The story of my life doesn’t exist,” she writes in The Lover. “Does not exist.” This tendency makes her writing feel unaffec
Literary Hub6 min read
Teaching Climate Change With The Lorax and The Jungle
It used to be that what I wanted more than anything was for my high school students to read independently. This was a month ago. Now, they’re doing much better. All it took was asking them what they wanted to read, then letting them read it. It wasn’
Literary Hub14 min readPolitics
Can Democrats Keep Up With Republican-Controlled State Majorities?
On February 20th, 2018, six days after seventeen people were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Representative Kionne McGhee, a Democrat from Miami, stood on the floor of the Florida House of Representatives
Literary Hub10 min read
Murder In Paradise: The Tale Of The Baroness And The Bohemians
In 1929 a German doctor named Friedrich Ritter and his former patient Dore Strauch landed on Floreana, a then-uninhabited island in the Galapagos archipelago off the coast of Ecuador. Having both left their spouses they’d set out to create paradise,
Literary Hub9 min read
Panic is Worse Than Pain: How Fiction Failed Me After Trauma
A beginning is a cut in the onward flow of things. It is a lie too: we section out the story, slashing away what came before and after. A cut can form an opening: a hole or a door or a cave or a mine. But what kind of mine do we open? A landmine? Yes
Literary Hub9 min read
Orwell’s Notes On 1984: Mapping The Inspiration Of A Modern Classic
At least three of George Orwell’s novels can be tracked back to the particular image or thought process that inspired their conception. With Animal Farm, it was the sight of a small boy escorting a giant cart horse down a country lane and the thought
Literary Hub7 min read
On J.M. Coetzee’s Age of Iron: Perennially, Lamentably, Current
Published in 1990, J. M. Coetzee’s Age of Iron spoke so powerfully against the tyrannies of its time—and the cruelty of apartheid South Africa—that it feels uncanny to read now, and discover how uncomfortably fresh are its concerns. Coetzee asks two
Literary Hub13 min read
The Role Of Librarians In A Historical Age Of Obsession
Bibliomania required, or at least implied, a librarian, except in those circumstances where collectors felt that they themselves had the time, interest, and expertise to take on the role for themselves. Some owners were confident that they did, but o
Literary Hub1 min readSociety
Global Stories That Have Expanded the “Great American” Literary Canon
The following illustrations are from America is Immigrants, by Sara Nović, illustrated by Alison Kolesar * __________________________________ Excerpted from America is Immigrants by Sara Nović, illustrated by Alison Kolesar. Copyright © 2019 by
Literary Hub9 min read
Oh, Where Did You Go, Patti LuPone?
I grow up in Queens in the 1970s. During this period there are tons of commercials for Broadway shows. I become obsessed, studying each one with the concentrated focus of a brain surgeon. But the commercial I was most fixated on was for Evita starrin
Literary Hub3 min read
Meme But Not Forgotten: RIP to the Glorious Animals of Our Digital Past
With angel wings Photoshopped in place by bored teenagers and students, Internet images prove that it is possible for the life of a beloved animal to extend well beyond its short, earthly years. When a pet becomes a meme, it becomes something bigger,
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