Explore essays and memoir
My Chess Teacher
‘The environment, however, wasn’t a hostile one. Though it was filled with the strangest guys in town, they were only there to play.’
‘Well, if the Bible, Greek tragedies and Star Wars have taught me something it’s that anything of great importance will eventually come in threes.’
When Did I Become a Writer?
‘I am often asked when I became a writer, and I have taken to not rushing my answer.’
‘I came home this past fall to the Chicago suburb where I’d lived with my parents from age nine until I left for college in 2008, and I moved back into my childhood bedroom.’
The last time I wrote about fate was in an article for the Guardian on...
Striking the keys of the same typewriter that once sat under J.G. Ballard’s fingers, Will Self reimagines the legendary writer’s last days.
Mark Gevisser examines the personal, political and social issues of transgender identity in America.
A Place on Earth: Scenes from a War
Dense forest and formless roads lead Sundaram to the most recent sites of conflict, burnt-out villages where pigs have taken over their former owner’s homes in an ‘inversion of man and beast, of civilization and nature’.
Where the World War Began
The World War began in Sarajevo, on a balmy summer afternoon in 1914. It was...
In the Shadow of the Hospital
‘All that yearning spilling down amid the treetops and roof ridges, a shadow I’d never properly considered before.’
‘My curiosity about lesbianism was an accomplice of my feminism: a path that allowed me to be sexual and free.’
‘I longed to know what she was thinking, what she did all day when she wasn’t performing rituals.’
‘At forty, I think the world leads to the body. Besides, laid out on a stretcher, you are your only home’ .
L.A. Diary: Notes from a Mexikorean Country
‘I was reassured to see that my hotel does not resemble the one in The Shining.’
Cynthia Ozick | First Sentence
‘Some stories begin with an incident, or a set of enigmatic circumstances, or a scene indelibly witnessed, or the relationship of unlike temperaments, or even something as gossamer as a mood. And then there is the kind of story that is rooted in an idea.’
‘If pain is what makes others real to us, there was not another human being more real to me than my mother.’
First Sentence: Louise Erdrich
‘We live in these places out of necessity, lucky to have them out of the terrible explosion of humanity.’
The Question of Fate
‘The possibility that I’d unwittingly tapped into her fate and used it as fuel for a story sickened me.’
Mona Simpson | First Sentence
‘A year later, still in third person, I’d taken five days off my character’s long wait. I’d moved to present tense, though, for more immediacy.’
Blood Is Usually Red
‘A lot of babies were born in skiffs during storms, their umbilical cords cut with rusty pocketknives.’
Women’s Shadow in the American Western
‘The wild is no place for women—the film would seem to say.’
Melinda Moustakis | First Sentence
‘We all would like to think that with one line, one brush, we could make a reader fall madly in love, and there are writers that elicit such a response with the appropriately gorgeous.’
Introduction: American Wild
When I was seventeen, in 1980, I went on an American road trip with my...
Thing with Feathers that Perches in the Soul
‘It has to be love, doesn’t it? In however many of its infinite permutations?’
‘When he stepped into the cage he was doing battle with a disease. The disease was the feeling of powerlessness that takes hold of even the most powerful.’
‘I walk out of the theatre in a daze. I’ve glimpsed something. But a glimpse, as it turns out, is not enough.’
Chasing Wolves in the American West
‘It is the wildest part of the American South-West and, in a way, its most beautiful.’
Be Careful with that Fan
‘I was stuck in Texas for a month. The days passed like slow-motion films.
‘He not only sees the World Cup as a ceasefire, but also as a series of sleights of hand that hide what’s really going on, political debauchery, spin and chicanery.’
Three Football Books
‘Football is a game; it’s not real life. But in a continent as illogical as Latin America, the lines blur.’
‘It was in one of those listless summers after graduation that I found myself in the small Japanese town of Sasayama.’
Three Japanese Books
‘Each word is a snowflake falling, and with each paragraph the snow settles deeper.’
Toh EnJoe | First Sentence
‘I think that the thing called thought can be viewed as rooted in the very real phenomenon of neurons firing.’