A small tear in the fabric of reality

Dear Nicole, Most of the time, we tend to think of fiction as a mirror held up, facing reality. Never mind if this is a clear mirror, a cloudy or an openly distorted one – our gaze rarely changes direction. Some books, however, attempt to cross through the looking-glass: they direct our gaze away from…

Nicole Krauss

Nicole Krauss (August 18, 1974) is an American writer. Krauss majored in English at Stanford University. She has a Master’s degree in English from Oxford University and one in art history from London’s Courtauld Institute. In 2007, Krauss was named by Granta one of the best young American novelists; in 2010, The New Yorker included her on its 20…

And if you’re lost enough to find yourself

Dear Robert, Something strong and heavy built upon a void: that’s what your poem “Directive” looks like for me. You are at the heart of paradox, that’s the place where you are writing from: “a house that is no more a house, / upon a farm that is no more a farm/ and in a…

Robert Frost

Robert Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) was an American poet. Frost enrolled at Dartmouth College, in 1892, and later at Harvard University, from 1897 to 1899, but never earned a formal college degree. He worked as farmer and English teacher at the local school. Later, he taught English at Amherst College and at the University of Michigan, and served as…

The point is not to negate reality, but to peel back its scrim,

Dear Chloe, Your novel The Immortalists (2018) seems to be cursed by the very premise it seeks to explore: the interplay between chance and destiny is not an easy subject to tackle. Your somewhat tamed approach to it, however, is a bad omen. The book is a decades-spanning story of a Jewish immigrant family. It…

Chloe Benjamin

Chloe Benjamin (1990) is an American author. She graduated from Vassar College and earned a M.F.A. in fiction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She teaches workshops on publishing. Books The Anatomy of Dreams (2014) The Immortalists (2018)

She was still her own indomitable self,

Dear Willa, A Lost Lady (1923) is a story drenched in melancholy. A short-lived world is coming of age and, caught in its remaking, its inhabitants seem to be constantly circumscribing a void and falling through to the other side. They are not so much losing themselves in its changing, as they are disclosing to…

Willa Cather

Willa Sibert Cather (December 7, 1873– April 24, 1947) was an American write. She graduated from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and, in 1896, moved to Pittsburgh to work for the women’s magazine Home Monthly. She also worked as high school English teacher, as drama critic for the Pittsburgh Leader, and as contributor of poetry and short…

Breaking through memories into desire

Dear Chris, In After Kathy Acker (2017), you are after a woman who was a professed self-mythologizer. Acker liked to play hide-and-seek, and buried herself in a room full of distorting mirrors. All you dispose of to find this woman is a collage of contradictory testimonials, and her own words. You can try to uncover…

Chris Kraus

Chris Kraus (1955) is an American writer and filmmaker. She has  a BA from Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand). After working as a journalist for five years, she moved to New York City in the late 1970s, and started performing and making films, video art and plays. Interviews Cultural Icons series.  Full Stop. 4 December 2012 Lenny Letter. 04 August 2017…

Cool as from underground springs and pure enough to drink

“The Man-Moth – by Elizabeth Bishop Man-Moth: Newspaper misprint for “mammoth.” Here, above, cracks in the buildings are filled with battered moonlight. The whole shadow of Man is only as big as his hat. It lies at his feet like a circle for a doll to stand on, and he makes an inverted pin, the…