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Sunday Staff Picks: October 25th

White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia by Kiki Petrosino Kiki Petrosino’s White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia starts with a stunning prelude, in which the reader, absorbed into the second person speaker, is taken on a chase sequence through a moving train.  Engaging – in pursuit? combat? collaboration? – with the speaker’s ancestors, the poem ends with a ghostly image and then an utterance “O- / you begin.” So the book begins. Petrosino orbits topics of ancestry, and history, all while constructing one of the strongest arguments in favor of form in recent years. The text is interspersed with erasures (similar to the Petrosino…

Sunday Staff Picks: October 18th

The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld Marieke Lucas Rijneveld’s The Discomfort of Evening, winner of this year’s International Booker Prize, begins with loss: the elder son of the Mulder family, Matthies, drowns in a tragic skating accident, leaving his family to contend with his death and attempt to distribute the loss between themselves. The novel is narrated by his ten-year old sister, Jas, who takes on the role of translator for her family’s grief. Through her stark observations, we witness the slow unraveling of a family unit set against the bleak landscape of their farm in the conservative…

Sunday Staff Picks: October 11th

Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country by Cristina Rivera Garza Earlier this week, Mexican author Cristina Rivera Garza was awarded the MacArthur “Genius” Grant. A writer of enormous talent and erudition, Garza is also the author of the most fascinating book I read this year. Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country is a collection of short forms that circle issues of state violence in contemporary Mexico. Garza’s project investigates the fault lines between the political and the personal, the body of the collective and the body of the individual. In attempting to write on, or through, this subject, Garza takes…

Starving and Sated

Editor (now alumna) Maddie Woda reviews Jihyun Yun’s first collection, Some Are Always Hungry. In 2016, I stumbled upon Jihyun Yun’s poem “Recipe: Dak-dori-tang” in BOAAT. A freshman in Columbia’s English program, I was beginning to develop my taste for poetry. I liked narration, freshness, unapologetic earnestness. I did not want too much room for interpretation, worried I’d fall through the cracks and say something ridiculous in class. I preferred James Wright to John Ashbery. I could not name any poets who were not deceased white men.  I read “Recipe: Dak-dori-tang” and immediately fell in love with Yun’s style. While…

Close Reading Series: Morgan Levine on “Sonnet”

The Close Reading Series invites our board editors to write about a favorite piece from our Spring 2020 issue. These readings are not intended to be definitive interpretations; when we read, we bring with us our own histories, experiences, and references, all of which guide our relationship to the work before us. It is possible,…

Everything is Personal, This is Personal Too

Editor Emmi Mack reviews Laurie Stone’s latest collection, Everything is Personal: Notes on Now. In her latest collection of hybrid nonfiction, Everything is Personal: Notes on Now, Laurie Stone presents her thoughtful brand of cultural criticism through deeply intimate snapshots of memoir. Her perceptions of art, both contemporary and what’s stuck with her for decades,…

Close Reading Series: Spencer Grayson on “Newly, rendered, truly”

The Close Reading Series invites our board editors to write about a favorite piece from our Spring 2020 issue. These readings are not intended to be definitive interpretations; when we read, we bring with us our own histories, experiences, and references, all of which guide our relationship to the work before us. It is possible,…

Sunday Staff Picks: May 17th

Writers and Lovers by Lily King Writers and Lovers is Lily King’s latest book after the success of her critically acclaimed and award-winning novel, Euphoria. Her new novel follows 31-year-old Casey Peabody who copes with her mother’s sudden passing, heartbreak, and pursuing a writing career while drowning in debt. King’s first-person narration gives us a direct gaze into Casey’s thoughts which reveals her constant uncertainties and very real anxieties. Despite all that seems to be going badly for her, Casey never ceases to point out the humor and absurdity in everything. Writers and Lovers is full of little truisms delivered…

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…