Memoir & Essay

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The Serial Reader

The Serial Reader

CONSIDER THE SERIAL MEMOIRIST. There are many — Maya Angelou, Diana Athill, Maxine Hong Kingston, Frank McCourt, Jamaica Kincaid — who have extended life stories over multiple memoirs. Each has ma...

Black Girl

Black Girl

ONE OF THE MANY indelible scenes in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man involves a discussion of “home” and what it means to be at home, to be comfortable with home, and to go home again. The narrator...

Poetry and Persona

Poetry and Persona

I COULDN'T WAIT to read Sonja Livingston’s Queen of the Fall, subtitled A Memoir of Girls and Goddesses and billed as a book that “considers the lives of women.” I had recently interviewed Vivia...

Rules and Rituals, Time Capsules and Tap Handles

Rules and Rituals, Time Capsules and Tap Handles

AS A GIRL, Heidi Julavits kept a diary. As a teen, the term embarrassed her, and she started calling it a journal. Her new book, The Folded Clock: A Diary, chronicles her recent return to the original...

Bad Dad

Bad Dad

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.They may not mean to, but they do.They fill you with the faults they hadAnd add some extra, just for you. — Philip Larkin, from “This Be the Verse” &nbsp...

Waiting for Giorgio

Waiting for Giorgio

The following is a feature article from the most recent edition of the LARB Quarterly Journal: Winter 2015. To pick up your copy of the Journal, become a member of the Los Angeles Review of Books ...

Our Diaries, Ourselves

Our Diaries, Ourselves

TODAY I DUG OUT an old diary from one of the large cardboard boxes that my husband and I never unpacked after our last move. It’s a spiral notebook with a multicolored cover. Thin lines of text, wri...

Ordinary Lives and Other Accidents

Ordinary Lives and Other Accidents

IN THE JOURNALIST AND THE MURDERER, Janet Malcolm observes, While the novelist, when casting about for a hero or a heroine, has all of human nature to choose from, the journalist must limit his prota...

AIDS Without Its Metaphors

AIDS Without Its Metaphors

IN AIDS and Its Metaphors, Susan Sontag wrote about AIDS and cancer “not to confer meaning, which is the traditional purpose of literary endeavor, but to deprive something of meaning” — to leech...

The Addict’s Journey

The Addict’s Journey

BY THE TIME I was born in Jackson, Mississippi (1985), Kevin Sessums had long left the Magnolia State’s kudzu-blanketed highways for the culture and promise of New York. At 23 (in 2008) I sat at the...

A Drink (or Four) With Kent Russell

A Drink (or Four) With Kent Russell

A GOOD BAR, according to Kent Russell, fulfills two criteria. “Number one is that you can’t actually see my face that well. And the second criterion is that the BSC — the Beer Shot Combo, excus...

I Am a Fucking Plagiarist

I Am a Fucking Plagiarist

Art is theft. — Pablo Picasso   BEFORE I HAD anything to say, I had the desire to say something. No, let me revise that. I had the desire to be heard. A family legend is that at the a...