Review of Helen Macdonald’s New Essay Collection

Oh how I loved writing this review of Vesper Flights, the new essay collection by Helen Macdonald (author of H Is for Hawk)! Macdonald will appear online Sept. 15, in an event benefitting Humanities Tennessee. She’ll be in discussion with Margaret Renkl—in other words, it’ll be the dream team of bird-related writing. You can get a ticket for the event here. I treasure this book and know others will too. You can read my review here, up today at Chapter 16.

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Review of New Ron Rash Story Collection

I’m delighted to share my review of Ron Rash’s new story collection, In The Valley. One of our master story writers, and one of my own favorites. Fans of Serena will be pleased—she’s back, deliciously amoral as ever, this time in a novella. My review’s up today at the ever-pleasing Chapter 16.

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New Interview with Jamey Hatley at Peauxdunque Review

I’m delighted to share my interview with the wonderful Jamey Hatley, who’s serving as this year’s Short Story judge in the Words and Music Writing Competition, which is open for submissions until Aug. 15. We at Peauxdunque Review are partnering with Words and Music, a yearly literary conference in New Orleans, to administer this contest and publish the best of what we find. I loved learning more about Jamey’s point of view—check out the interview and then send us your own work!

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New Essay on Indigo Girls

I’m so pleased to share this (newly online) piece I wrote for the second issue of Peaxudunque Review. In this music column, I take a deep dive into albums that seemed to go overlooked when they first appeared. It’s been heartening to see an unusual focus in media on Indigo Girls recently, in connection with their new album and terrific live streams during the pandemic. It’s the kind of attention on them I was hoping for when, last fall, I wrote about their 2011 album Beauty Queen Sister. You can read my column on Indigo Girls on Peauxdunque Review’s site.

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New Personal Essay at Atticus Review

I’m thrilled to share this new personal essay, up today at Atticus Review.

The week I wrote this piece, some fluke of scheduling had me working on three separate author interviews at once, which seemed to open up an ongoing interview with my own nature—the state of my creative restlessness and the stark transitions that had taken place in my family life.

At first, my intention wasn’t to capture the potent swirl of nervous vulnerability and ecstatic devotion that can sometimes take hold of us while we work. This piece emerged in sly snatches of confused aside—as a kind of shadow chronicle I kept as I worked. Every time I tried write a tamer, more flattering version of this moment in time, the messier the truth grew as it came snarling out onto the page. Every time I tried to spare my blushes, as the Brits say, the more exposing the next paragraph became. Every time I tried to tried to confine the imagery to our world’s non-beastly physical reality, the more insufficient and untrue those metaphors seemed.

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Review of Collection by Shuly Xóchitl Cawood

I’m pleased to share my latest review for Chapter 16. Especially now, it feels especially important to show our support for new books from small presses, like East Tennessean Shuly Xóchitl Cawood’s short story collection, A Small Thing to Want (available now from Press 53). You can read my review here.

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Review of new Memoir by Alia Volz

I’m happy to share my review for the rollicking and poignant memoir, Home Baked: My Mom, Marijuana, and the Stoning of San Francisco. Alia Volz tells the story of her mother’s pot-brownie empire with loving closeness and a great eye for the tumultuous history happening all around her family business. My review of Home Baked is up today at an empire of an another stripe: Chapter 16

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Review of Katy Simpson Smith Novel

Feels good right now to do some small bit for authors who’ve had to cancel their book tours this spring. Here’s my review of Katy Simpson Smith’s fascinating, millennia-spanning novel The Everlasting, which was released last week. My review’s up today at the ever-essential Chapter 16.

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New Essay on Patti Smith

Some artists hold unique power when it comes to seeing us through dark times. For me, one of those artists is Patti Smith. Thanks to Maria Browning and Chapter 16 for running this piece of mine, despite the cancellation of this year’s Big Ears Festival, where Smith was slated to appear. In the piece, I get to write about the particular space Smith occupies in our culture (and in my life), as well as some thoughts on Smith’s most recent book, Year of the Monkey. My essay is up today at Chapter 16.

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Review of New Louise Erdrich Novel

I’m delighted to share my latest review for Chapter 16, this one of Louise Erdrich’s new novel, The Night Watchman. Her novels are always a pleasure, as well as a challenge to the spirit. I didn’t want this one to end. You can read my review here.

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