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A truck, a Paris street, an absent-minded philosopher. On February 25, 1980, these disparate objects collided and fused into biographical fact: the semiotician Roland Barthes stepped off a curb near his Left Bank office and was hit by a laundry van. He died a month later in a Paris hospital. For the resourceful French novelist […]

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While pregnant, Camille T. Dungy fears isolation and estrangement: “I felt sure that the woman I’d worked thirty-six years to become would be pushed aside by someone else.” Yet when this poet, professor, public speaker, and holder of advanced degrees becomes a mother, she welcomes her altered identity. Motherhood, she says in her new essay […]

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I’m thrilled to have a book review on 4Columns, a new site for arts criticism at its best and liveliest. I wrote about “The Art of Waiting,” by Belle Boggs, an empathetic and brave memoir on mothering, fertility, and the politics of assisted reproduction. Read it now at 4columns.org.

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In my first draft of this review I said ‘Fates and Furies’ was both brilliant and boring. My editor said, “If it’s a bad book we shouldn’t run a long piece on it.” I said, “It’s not bad. I didn’t say it was bad. It’s original and terrifically inventive. It’s just got slow patches and […]

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Melanie is fifteen, innocent, and full of romantic dreams. She pretends to be a girl in a film, a magazine, a painting. She was too thin for a Titian or a Renoir but she contrived a pale, smug, Cranach Venus with a bit of net curtain wound round her head (…) She stuck moon-daisies in […]

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I was asked to write about my ‘year’s best’ books, which always makes me feel anxious and guilty (of not reading enough, of not having interesting taste). So instead I wrote about being alone for a few days, reading for ‘The Baby on the Fire Escape’ and discovering the unexpected.

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