The Millions11 min read
The Trump Administration Has Finally Brought Us to Dystopia
1. Donald Trump was hardly into his first full calendar year as president before a chorus of critics and pundits began to use the word “dystopian” to describe his administration and the social milieu that it seemed to precipitate. In March 2017, nove
The Millions13 min read
Everything Matters, Nothing Matters: The Millions Interviews Daniel Torday
In Daniel Torday’s latest novel, Boomer1, ex-journalist, bluegrass musician, and failed academic Mark Brumfeld sparks an online movement against the economic tyranny of the baby boomers—all from the basement of his parents’ house. Told from the persp
The Millions4 min read
A Eulogy for Two Unsung Heroes of Egyptian Literature: Yahya Haqqi and Sabri Moussa
One of the pleasures of reading critic and fiction writer Yahya Haqqi’s essays in Arabic is that I am always astonished by the breadth of his knowledge, the depth of his experience, the nimbleness of his mind and his eloquence. In the collection Cryi
The Millions7 min readSociety
What Justice Is and Is Not: On Lauren Levin’s ‘Justice Piece // Transmission’
“What is justice?” This is the inquiry around which Lauren Levin’s Justice Piece // Transmission orbits. Unflinching, dialectical, and curious to its core, Levin’s work grapples with the nature and practice of justice—what it is, what it isn’t, who d
The Millions17 min read
A Pained Intuition and a Palpable Longing: Katie Ford on Theology, Poetry, and the Unknowable
If You Have to Go, the new collection of poems by Katie Ford, is a book that conjures powers of possession. I feel that way about all of her books: Her poems bring me to a mystical plane somewhere between language and life. I’m left shaken. Her willi
The Millions7 min read
Light In The West And Shadows In The East
An earlier draft of this essay was published in Be: A Journal of Creative Expression in April 2017. Ever since I came to Iowa City, I’ve spent a lot of time watching the sunset. The view is very different from anything I have seen in China. The first
The Millions7 min read
Words, Ever Unreliable: The Millions Interviews Zoje Stage
As Anne Elizabeth Moore states in her 2017 collection, Body Horror, chronic illness is more common in women than men, so it is no coincidence that these are the diseases society often ignores. This point is in direct conversation with Zoje Stage’s Ba
The Millions7 min read
A Writer’s Writer’s Writer: Lydia Davis and the Naked Mind
At a certain point in her life, she realizes it is not so much that she wants to have a child as that she does not want not to have a child, or not to have had a child. —Lydia Davis, “A Double Negative” Like many Lydia Davis fans, I sometimes mentall
The Millions2 min read
The Millions Top Ten: August 2018
We spend plenty of time here on The Millions telling all of you what we’ve been reading, but we are also quite interested in hearing about what you’ve been reading. By looking at our Amazon stats, we can see what books Millions readers have been buyi
The Millions12 min readTech
You Don’t Have Privacy, so Instead You Have Secrecy: The Millions Interviews D. Wystan Owen
There’s something especially rewarding about befriending someone who is quiet—a sense of finding something special and rare. I met David Wystan Owen a few years ago, when we overlapped in our time at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He and I never took a
The Millions5 min read
Sharpshooters and Tall Tales: On John Larison’s ‘Whiskey When We’re Dry’
John Larison’s Whiskey When We’re Dry speaks the American language of the tall tale: Its braggadocio is disguised as candor, and the novel mutes any trace of absurdity with its sharp plot, its tendency to whisper secrets rather than dwell on them, an
The Millions6 min read
When the Wreckage Is in the Writer: On Creating Death and Disaster
Although David Means is one of our best writers of sentences, one would be hard-pressed to commit any of those sentences to memory. His lines unfold and refold upon themselves like animate origami, offering lush visual imagery and word choice as poin
The Millions6 min read
Making Things Up: The Millions Interviews Elliot Reed
Elliot Reed explores adolescent loneliness in his debut novel, A Key to Treehouse Living. “This condition of loneliness and isolation is largely universal, and it’s uncomfortable, so young people find lots of ways to cope with it. There are many ways
The Millions2 min read
We Drew in ‘The Beautiful Book of Exquisite Corpses’: Here’s What We Came Up With
When my 13-year-old granddaughter, Lotti Boecker, visited from Germany this summer, we discovered a delightful new outlet for our shared love of drawing. The Beautiful Book of Exquisite Corpses: A Creative Game of Limitless Possibilities, edited by G
The Millions13 min readPolitics
Stories Bad and Good: Understanding Appalachia Through Reading
Asher looked up at all those stars again. It wasn’t right for such a sky to be shining above them when so many people had lost so much. But the sky doesn’t pay a bit of attention to the things that happen to us, the joys or the sorrows, either one.”
The Millions8 min read
Must-Read Poetry: September 2018
Here are seven notable books of poetry publishing in September. Like by A.E. Stallings Stallings has described the “strange dream-logic connections of the rhymes themselves that lead the poem forward, perhaps into territory the poet herself had not i
The Millions8 min readRelationships & Parenting
Working with What You’ve Got: An Interview with Lydia Kiesling
Readers of The Millions know Lydia Kiesling as its current editor, corralling an eclectic group of writers and readers into a daily book blog circulated to thousands of book lovers.  Lydia’s first novel, The Golden State, arrives today from Farrar, S
The Millions8 min read
September Preview: The Millions Most Anticipated (This Month)
We wouldn’t dream of abandoning our vast semi–annual Most Anticipated Book Previews, but we thought a monthly reminder would be helpful (and give us a chance to note titles we missed the first time around). Here’s what we’re looking out for this mont
The Millions8 min read
The Future Is … Soon: ‘Autonomy’ and the Future of Autonomous Vehicle Literature
1.  An unprovable claim: 95 percent of the existing literature on driverless cars is written in the future tense. Soon cars will do X, passengers will do Y, and so on. For some, I imagine this stylistic tic generates excitement—look at all the cool s
The Millions3 min read
5 Brazilian Women You Should Read Who Aren’t Clarice Lispector
The literary world loves to love Clarice Lispector. The Ukrainian-born Brazilian was undoubtedly one of the most important writers of the 20th century and probably competes only with Borges for the title of Giant of Latin American Letters. Ask any fo
The Millions8 min read
An Element of Perversity: The Millions Interviews Katharine Kilalea
OK, Mr. Field—the debut novel from the South African-born, London-based writer Katharine Kilalea—is the story of a man and a house. Mr. Field, a concert pianist who lives in London, suffers a wrist injury after a performance of Chopin’s “Raindrop Pre
The Millions9 min read
Thinking Makes It So: Ward Farnsworth Reframes the Stoics with Wit and Insight
Seneca’s suicide, at the order of the emperor Nero, presents a macabre scene. Previously adviser to the fickle, impetuous, paranoid, thin-skinned emperor, Seneca was erroneously implicated in an assassination plot and was ordered to take his own life
The Millions5 min read
‘Pale Horse Rider’ Examines the Life of William Cooper, Where Conspiracy Blurs with Fact
You’ve seen home videos like it: family scurrying in a kitchen while preparing a holiday meal. A father carrying a turkey to the counter to be carved; a mother washing dishes. Young daughters, anxious, watching the whole mess. Hours of recorded foota
The Millions5 min read
Shells for the Creation of Human Dramas: Living, Breathing Settings in Fiction
Reading The Collected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick for a creative nonfiction craft lecture during the final residency for my MFA program gave me a greater appreciation for Hardwick’s work and changed the way I read. One essay from the collection,“Loc
The Millions6 min read
Unsung Women: Buddhist Women’s Poetry and the Revival of the Female Teaching Lineage
One of the holiest forms of practice in Zen is the chanting of names of one’s Buddhist ancestors and teachers. In Japan, China, and Korea, prayers reciting one’s teaching lineage are a common part of the rituals, soaring back in Japanese, Korean or c
The Millions6 min read
Karl Ove Knausgaard’s Seasons Quartet Is a Raw Journey through the Writing Process
The “seasons quartet” by Karl Ove Knausgaard comprises four books. In order of publication, their titles in English are: Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer. Made of paper (unless they’re in electronic form), each book resembles a flat rectangular box wit
The Millions5 min read
Death of the Father, Death of the Son: On Orhan Pamuk’s ‘The Red-Haired Woman’
The new works of a Nobel Prize winner such as Orhan Pamuk (who won the award in 2006) are subject to intense scrutiny, in case they show any sign of decline on the part of the author. But Pamuk’s most recent novel, The Red-Haired Woman, exhibits prof
The Millions12 min read
Take a Writer Like Him: My Complicated Love Affair with Kingsley Amis
1. As much as I may rack my brain, there are 15 minutes or so in the dark that I can’t account for and that I’ll never get back—15 minutes during which, I have to think, that creep’s hands were touching my body. It’s a weird thing to think about all
The Millions4 min read
What Do They Want from Us? On the Return of Big Bookstore Chains
Bookstores have become cultural Rorschach tests. After the past decade or so, you’ve either been traumatized by watching your favorite store go dark, or you’re fine with the coffee and craft cocktails now served alongside exquisitely curated books. T
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