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Monthly Archives: August 2016

From the Archive: "Donor Organs," by Joyce Carol Oates

Must’ve been a time of contagion somehow he’d picked up like hepatitis C this morbid fear of dying young and his “organs” being “harvested” ribcage opened up, pried open with giant jaws you’d hear the cracking of the bones deftly with surgical instruments the organs spooned out blood vessels, nerves “snipped” and “tied” your organs packed in dry ice, in waterproof containers to be carried by messenger to the “donor recipient” this sick-slipping-helpless sensation in his gut like skidding his car, his parents’ new Audi they’d trusted him with, on black ice approaching the Tappan Zee bridge deep in the gut, a knowledge of the futility of all human wishes, volition

Vicariousness and TV Recaps on the Internet

In his article “How Roland Barthes Gave Us the TV Recap,” Sam Anderson writes that “a cultural critic is betwixt and between: not a regular consumer of culture and yet someone immersed deeply enough in it to appreciate its inner mechanisms.” I feel strange saying that my recaps of a show like Bachelor in Paradise are a significant piece of cultural criticism or that they make me a cultural critic. (Though, certainly, some gorgeous writing came out of recaps of the final episode of Mad Men that wove together the end of the show for its viewers.) But I believe that the position I occupied, the sort of liminal space that an anthropologist would call a key informant, enabled me to situate Bachelor in Paradise within a context where individuals would actually enjoy it.

Always Looking: An Interview with Gina Bonati

“When I turned eighteen, the cult just turned into the Devil’s playground. The cult was insisting on things from me and harassing me. They shaved my head, they forced me to do hard labor, I was being told I didn’t deserve nice things and I believed it. I think having my head shaved caused me to go into shock, but I then went to my dance teacher and I said to her that at Synanon, all the women shave their heads. My dance teacher couldn’t handle my shaved head and threw me out the school. And then it got worse and worse and worse.”

Is This Working? On Poetry and Employment

While working in service I began to feel a bit like Simone Weil, the sheltered, awkward, mystic-intellectual who at twenty-five decided to work in a factory for a year, not out of financial urgency but for political solidarity, as a kind of investigative journalist. It didn’t go well for her. As Czeslaw Milosz wrote, that year “destroyed her youth,” and taught her that such self-sacrificing labor is not noble but in fact degrading, as it required her, just like her less privileged comrades, to wholly give up a sense of self. I told myself I would keep writing no matter what, but after placating the herds, mopping floors, and cleaning toilets, I didn’t always feel inclined.