By thecolumbiareview

Sunday Staff Picks: May 10th

Notes from an Apocalypse by Mark O’Connell Notes from an Apocalypse by Mark O’Connell is not the book you’re expecting—but unquestionably the book we all need during the seismic shift of COVID-19. Throughout, you follow the conversational meditations of this worried yet apprehensively optimistic author as he goes through the same mental loops I’ve felt…

Sunday Staff Picks: May 3rd

Temporary by Hilary Leichter “I have a shorthand kind of career,” confesses the protagonist of Temporary, Hilary Leichter’s zippy debut novel. This confession is true, as it turns out, in a delightfully unconventional way. A temp at “an uptown pleasure dome of powdered women in sensible shoes,” Leichter’s unnamed protagonist is sent out to fulfill…

Sunday Staff Picks: April 19th

Sh*t is F*cked Up and Bullsh*t by Malcolm Harris I picked up Sh*t is F*cked Up and Bullsh*t for fairly obvious reasons. Released less than two months ago — let’s call it the Before Times — Marxist journalist Malcom Harris walks readers through the past decade here in America. It’s not a pretty picture. Beginning…

Sunday Staff Picks: April 5th

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry Quan Barry’s latest novel, set in a Massachusetts coastal town, delivers witches, field hockey, and late 1980s cultural references, all in Barry’s distinctive, irreverent tone. After the team makes a deal with the Devil, in the form of an Emilio Estevez notebook, the Danvers field hockey team inexplicably begins winning game after game, landing them at the state finals. Despite the normal pressures of high school—sexual awakenings and creepy teachers as only the beginning—the girls truly dedicate themselves to bonding as a team. Perhaps dark powers propel them to field hockey stardom,or perhaps…

Landscape from a Train by Anja Chivukula

Red, all the olive fields were limned with ruddy gold, laden branches sprouting furrows, tangled boughs that carved them- selves in gaps between the morning, havens painted into crossties, stopgap limbs to pave  anew the solar path. In patchwork shreds, the silences sat struck, and some- thing spoke   that could have been a person …

Prompts for Quarantine

In response to the quarantine, The Columbia Review editorial board will share every other day a series of prompts, which we hope will inspire our readers. 1. Think about space. Think about the space that separates you from the computer, the space that separates you from the outside world. How does the space feel that…

Sunday Staff Picks: March 29th

Staten Island Stories by Claire Jimenez In Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a group of strangers embark on a pilgrimage to Canterbury, telling stories to pass the time—but the text ends before they reach their destination. The pilgrims become connected by their narratives rather than their geography: and, because we never see the pilgrims reach Canterbury,…

Sunday Staff Picks: March 1st

A Sand Book by Ariana Reines Newly crowned winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the dizzying four hundred-page epic A Sand Book by Ariana Reines masterfully takes on issues of spirituality, consumerism, womanhood, and the occult. Moreover, Reines suggests these themes are conjured by the gross deterioration and obfuscation of language at the hand of the immediacy so latent in the digital economies of the contemporary West. In “A Partial History,” Reines writes of these challenging times: “We were lost in a language of images. / It was growing difficult to speak. Yet talk / Was everywhere.” In turns at…

Archivettes by Claire Adler

1.  Scattered with nebulous crockery we talk mothers their grief, their limpid yearning. Your father is to my father only quantitatively. His grandmother and her worried son frantic across the rutted old table.  Our earnest faith constructs so much glaring,  translucent joy. I do describe his shoestring body and lie when I wish his wife…

Sunday Staff Picks: February 23rd

The Gilded Auction Block by Shane McCrae Addressing America, Shane McCrae’s speaker in “Everything I Know About Blackness I Learned from Donald Trump” says “even in my dreams I’m in your dreams.” McCrae’s The Gilded Auction Block turns America and the American dream inside out, and in doing so creates a surreal logic—a fractured but incisive way of looking at contemporary America. Although the epigraphs are often quotes from the current political moment, the book undergoes a traditional narrative of katabasis when the speaker descends into Hell to confront a Trumpian figure (among other demons). McCrae’s attention to enjambment, rhythm,…