Explore essays and memoir
Mary O’Donoghue | Notes on Craft
In this new series, we give authors a space to discuss the way they write – from technique and style to inspirations that inform their craft.
Among the Citizen Soldiers
Karan Mahajan visits Lexington, Virginia – a centre of the Confederary – in the wake of the far-right rally in Charlottesville.
If Mother’s Happy
‘Towards the end of my pregnancy, like many women, my emotions were taut, stretched thin like the skin round my middle.’
The Fashion of Kathy Acker
An extract from Chris Kraus’s new biography, After Kathy Acker.
Erika Krouse on her work as a private investigator. ‘An escort service was providing prostitutes for football recruits, directly solicited by the university.’
Hallelujah! A Brief History of Bombing People
Ben Mauk on the West’s longstanding love of missiles, drones, bombs and nukes.
Possessed | State of Mind
‘I am neither fully awake nor entirely asleep. In fact, I wonder if I am even alive.’
Books Do Furnish a Room
‘The shelves say something about the person who has stocked them; they say much.’
Threshold | State of Mind
‘What we’re about to see is greater than the thing you’re running from.’
‘For my mother and father, the past and present had both become foreign countries.’
Robert Moor remembers hitch-hiking across Newfoundland: ‘The way to pronounce Newfoundland, Bill and Sue instructed me, is to remember that it rhymes with understand.’
I come from a place on your bucket list
Deepti Kapoor on travel, authenticity and the peculiarity of being Indian in Uganda.
Yet Trouble Came
Phillip Lewis on writing emotional autobiography. ‘A sincere observation followed by a sincere utterance is the most powerful and effective form of communication.’
The Bonds of Trauma
‘An often-unacknowledged truth about families that deal with addiction is that the bonds of trauma can be as challenging to quit as the habit itself.’
International Women’s Day 2017
‘We want to share with you some of our favourite pieces – published by us and by others – that present clear-headed explorations of gender in our society’
Olivia Laing | Is Travel Writing Dead?
‘Which bodies can go where might be the central question of our century.’
Karan Mahajan | Is Travel Writing Dead?
‘Too often, a kind of travel writing – especially the novel set abroad in an exotic locale – feels like a way of allegorizing and escaping problems at home.’
Robert Macfarlane | Is Travel Writing Dead?
‘The best writers rose to the challenge by seeking not originality of destination, but originality of form.’
‘These photographs capture that fatal boredom in the face of this slow-motion catastrophe.’
Hoa Nguyen | Is Travel Writing Dead?
‘I didn’t have the language for why I could not be a tourist in the same way as my white counterparts.’
Best Book of 1818: The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr, by E.T.A. Hoffmann
‘What sets Hoffmann’s work apart is the meeting of the joint impulses of Enlightenment and Romantic thought’
Best Book of 2016: Joanne Kyger’s On Time
Hoa Nguyen on why Joanne Kyger’s On Time is the best book of 2016.
Best Book of 2015: Thus Were Their Faces by Silvina Ocampo
‘Time is a rubber band, and in a single sentence, ghosts and alternative worlds superimpose’
Best Book of 1955: The Magician’s Nephew
‘Much like Tolkien’s, admittedly vaster, legendarium, Lewis’s world is exquisitely conceived.’
Best Book of 1900: The Autobiography of Dr William Henry Johnson
‘Johnson is now a ghost of history; he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page, but I can’t let him disappear.’
Best Book of 2000: The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt
‘It is the novel I have read which best expresses the honest and sad truth of art: that it is often produced in precarity and performed in near silence, but that it can also redeem a life.’
Best Book of 1941: Consider the Oyster by M.F.K. Fisher
‘This book is about yearning for the Sunday nights of childhood, or dreams; it is a meditation on hunger in all its forms.’
Best book of 1983: The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek
‘After 2016 I’m done with sentimentality, and it’s hard to think of a less sentimental book than The Piano Teacher, objectively a masterpiece, subjectively a book that changed my life.’
Best book of 1964: Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr
‘In days of such human cruelty and pettiness and stupidity, we need reminding that we are all capable of savage compassion as well as the contagion of hatred.’
Best Book of 1965: Everything That Rises Must Converge
‘O’Conner has for me the effect of nailing and then blowing up one’s most casual illusions’
‘In Hollin Hills, we believed our flatware could change the world.’ Jennifer Kabat on the intersection of modernist architecture and espionage.
All that Offers a Happy Ending Is a Fairy Tale
‘If you were like me, you would know the obsession of the compulsive reader: every street sign; every bottle label’
Mother and Father
‘Like most wars, this was a war of the young.’ Thomas Kilroy on his parents’ experience of the Anglo-Irish War and the Irish civil war.