Category Archives: Short Stories/Essays

Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment

Did you know that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world? At least it did in 2012, according to the essay by Jeremy Travis and Bruce Western in this collection edited by Angela J. Davis. Besides having … Continue reading

Posted in Nonfiction, Short Stories/Essays | Leave a comment

Dimestore: A Writer’s Life

When I was in college and away from my rural southwest Virginia home, I discovered the novels of Lee Smith. Although her hometown of Grundy was a couple hundred miles west of my hometown, her writing felt culturally close to … Continue reading

Posted in Memoir, Nonfiction, Short Stories/Essays | 6 Comments

We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation

In this slim book, Jeff Chang shares his perspective on various racial conflicts and controversies of the past few years. The word “Notes” in the subtitle is essential to appreciating what this book is. It’s not a comprehensive study of race … Continue reading

Posted in Nonfiction, Short Stories/Essays | 8 Comments


I find it difficult to describe the experience of reading the short fiction of Alice Munro. Usually, I like my short stories to be a little bit weird and experimental — to play with form, the way George Saunders does, … Continue reading

Posted in Fiction, Short Stories/Essays | 8 Comments

An Elegy for Easterly

Petina Gappah grew up in Zimbabwe — it was Rhodesia until she was about ten — and today she lives in Geneva as an international lawyer. Her debut collection of stories, An Elegy for Easterly, is odd to read. Zimbabwe … Continue reading

Posted in Fiction, Short Stories/Essays | 6 Comments

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

When it comes to essays, Joan Didion is among the greats, at least she is by reputation. Before reading this collection, I’d not read many of her essays, “Goodbye to All That” and maybe a few others. I’d also read The Year … Continue reading

Posted in Nonfiction, Short Stories/Essays | 8 Comments

We Live in Water

In 2013, I read Jess Walter’s The Financial Lives of the Poets, a novel about a middle-class man in free-fall. That novel was satirical and insightful and interesting, it made me laugh and it made me think, but somehow I … Continue reading

Posted in Fiction, Short Stories/Essays | 12 Comments

Difficult Loves

Difficult Loves is a collection of short stories by Italo Calvino, published quite late in his life (1984, only a year or so before his death) but written quite early indeed, most of them in the 1940s and ’50s. This … Continue reading

Posted in Short Stories/Essays | 6 Comments

All That Man Is

The stories in this collection by David Szalay trace the life history of man by looking at nine men at different stages of life. There’s a university student named Simon, traveling through Europe with a friend. There’s Bérnard, who has … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction, Short Stories/Essays | 5 Comments

The Givenness of Things

If you’re a regular or long-time reader of this blog, you’re probably aware that I’m a tremendous fan of the work of Marilynne Robinson. I’ve read and loved all her novels, and I marveled at her 2012 essay collection, When I Was … Continue reading

Posted in Nonfiction, Religion, Short Stories/Essays | 3 Comments