The Naked Don’t Fear the Water

“I was an Afghan named Habib,” writes Matthieu Aikins in The Naked Don’t Fear the Water: An Underground Journey with Afghan Refugees. Aikins is a Canadian-American journalist with over a decade of experience reporting from Kabul. His debut, while an Afghanistan war book, distinguishes itself from other accounts penned by Western media correspondents. Whereas Anand […]

Rapture and Melancholy: The Diaries of Edna St. Vincent Millay

Last May, I was lucky enough to get to spend a month in residency at Millay Arts, in Austerlitz, New York. The residency takes place at Steepletop, the wild estate (once a blueberry farm in the Taconic Mountains) named after the steeplebush flowers that grow there, where Edna St. Vincent Millay (February 22, 1892 – […]


Katherine Indermaur’s I|I, winner of the 2022 Deborah Tall Lyric Essay Book Prize, is a philosophical and personal meditation on visual perception. Science, etymology, cultural history, and psychology lend support to supposition in this poetic essay pondering “my own seeing.” In brief passages separated by space and frequently divided by either a black diamond or […]

Curing Season: Artifacts

Kristine Langley Mahler bookends her debut essay collection, Curing Season: Artifacts, with images of her adolescent self keeping vigil over a suburban neighborhood in Greenville, North Carolina. On the busiest street in the subdivision, where her family lived for four years, Mahler spent hours on her front porch, hidden from view by the overhanging roofline. […]

Team Photograph

Liminal. The word comes to mind so often while I am spelunking through Lauren Haldeman’s graphic memoir Team Photograph that I feel compelled to look it up. “Occupying both sides of a boundary,” or “relating to a transition.” Ambiguity. Disorientation. Yes to all of these. In Team Photograph, Haldeman layers three points in time—distant past, […]

The Laundry

The Laundry Photo by Emily Chung   What was it like,” my partner asks, “growing up as you did?”—and I can only think to tell her about the laundry. So much for a family of three, it seemed. There was a chute in the closet beside my room, which made me think of the game […]


Even as a five-year-old, Elissa Bassist hated the sound of her own voice. She memorized the lyrics to each song in the 1989 Disney classic The Little Mermaid—about a teenage fish-princess who signs away her best-in-the-world voice for long legs to pursue a boy—especially the banger “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” in which the octopus sing-splains how […]


The prolific French novelist and memoirist Annie Ernaux opens Simple Passion—a slim autobiographical novel narrating her passionate and doomed affair with a married Russian diplomat temporarily stationed in Paris—with a description of her protagonist watching pornography. She searches at first for a comprehensible narrative to the film, some evidence of causality to the actions being […]


Self-Storage Photo By Joel Swick   [The Bowl that Fills] I can’t conjure my own first memory, but I do remember Virginia Woolf’s. She was in the nursery at St. Ives in the Hebrides. The acorn on the end of the string from a window blind slid back and forth across the floor with the […]