Memoir & Essay

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The Savage Desire to Know More: On Ben Watt

The Savage Desire to Know More: On Ben Watt

IN HIS INDISPENSABLE INTRODUCTION to The Art of the Personal Essay, Phillip Lopate warns against “unproblematically self-assured, self-contained, self-satisfied” essayists who produce shallow, sug...

The Writer in Pieces

The Writer in Pieces

Let me write fragments without finishing them — at least I’m writing! Even so, this is literature of a kind, in a sense perhaps the only kind. Perhaps it’s impossible for a psychological type li...

Maximal Anxiety

Maximal Anxiety

THE NEW YORKER'S editor David Remnick has dubbed Roz Chast “the magazine's only certifiable genius," but to some of the magazine’s readers, she is just another cartoonist in the stable of reg...

Disney, Autism, and Whatever Works

Disney, Autism, and Whatever Works

MY SON HENRY, who is six and has Down syndrome, has been a fan of the Muppets for most of his life. When we let him, he’ll watch Muppet Show DVDs for hours at a time. He can recite entire sketches w...

Like Children

Like Children

Why do we desire to die so much?Because we desire to say so much.       — Hélène Cixous, Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing […] when the scriptures say that “they were both naked, and ...

How to Be a Mother

How to Be a Mother

BY SPRING of my internship year I was exhausted, I’d gained 10 pounds, and my periods had stopped. I assumed that months of 36-hour hospital shifts fueled by coffee and vending machine candy had fin...

Cremains of the Day

Cremains of the Day

IN AN ODD COINCIDENCE, I began reading Roz Chast’s visual memoir about her aging parents on the 20th anniversary of my father’s death. I thought I knew what to expect from Chast, having viewed mor...

Blake Bailey’s Splendid Things

Blake Bailey’s Splendid Things

“LOOK, it’s my misery that I have to paint this kind of painting, it’s your misery that you have to love it,” said the abstract expressionist Mark Rothko, underscoring the cruel bond between t...

The Writer, Truth, and Negotiations

The Writer, Truth, and Negotiations

THE ASPIRATIONS OF YOUTH seldom play out as our younger selves imagine, the paths of life less direct, more painful, utterly different from our dreams, whether in the best of ways or more quotidian on...