“In his suit, with his pigtail and his montera, he was pure potential: he could be masculine vanquisher or gold-embroidered fairy. He was both, actually, at all times, and nobody who came to see him fight thought any less of him for it.”
“That violent heteronormative cultures of sex and reproduction among humans are attributed to ‘nature’ feels astonishing after spending time on the allotment. The slutty ingenuity of vegetables when it comes to desire and reproductive methods is a marvel that makes a mockery of conservative ideas of the natural.”
“Anna Badkhen was researching Eden – the origins of humanity in the Afar Triangle of East Africa – when coronavirus broke out across the world.”
One upstate New York resident discovers the violent local history of the farmland she bought. Known as the Anti-Rent War, this history is closely tied with America’s complicated ideal about land ownership and dominion, and resonates far wider than its location suggests.
In China, a British expat marveled at the many ways strangers touched each other, creating a common language of the body, during China’s modernization.
Nell Boeschenstein, writing almost seven years after her prophylactic mastectomy, examines how breasts — whether real or fake, attached to or removed from their original owner — carry an overabundance of personal and cultural meaning.
A 6.1 earthquake recently struck Osaka, Japan. In 1997, writer Haruki Murakami walked the long stretch between Kobe’s city center and his childhood home in the outskirts, to see how the great Kobe earthquake changed his hometown. He found not only a foreign landscape, but traces of himself, and the constant echo of violence.
If literature is the news that stays news, then it’s always a good time to revist Elif Batuman’s first book, The Possessed, about the people obsessed with Russia’s great authors. In this selection, Batuman gets a travel grant as a college student to investigate whether Leo Tolstoy was murdered. She examines his life for clues. She looks at his books and estate. She spends four days wearing sweatpants and flip-flops after her luggage got lost en route to the International Tolstoy Conference in Russia.
In Typing Practice, an excerpt from her book, Living with a Wild God, Barbara Ehrenreich looks back to keeping a notebook to make sense of growing up female in a dysfunctional family. The lessons she learned offer some hope for these trying times: “But there is another possible response to the unknown and potentially menacing, and that is thinking.”
On June 24, 1972, three boys decided to leave their residential school in Canada’s Northwest Territories and walk from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk (“Tuk”) in a bid to avoid punishment for stealing a pack of cigarettes from their dorm supervisor. Without a highway connecting Inuvik to Tuk, the boys had no idea they were undertaking an impossible journey of 90 miles over boggy tundra. At Granta, Nadim Roberts tells the story of Dennis, Jack, and Bernard, and of the horrific toll residential schools have exacted on Inuits, the Inuit community, and their traditional ways of life.