“Nothing Happens”

Clare Sestanovich

When the Mueller report was released in April 2019, you could buy it in bookstores. A lot of people did: it quickly climbed to the top of the Times Best Seller list. In addition to being explained by journalists, the report was evaluated by literary critics, including Dwight Garner, veteran of the Times book review, and Michiko Kakutani, his former colleague, whose power has turned her name into a verb....

“Here Comes the Break” | On Literary Fiction Today

Alexandra Kleeman, Andrew Martin, Christian Lorentzen, Clare Sestanovich, Gabriel Smith, Hannah Gold, Lucie Elven, Missouri Williams, Sanjena Sathian, Tope Folarin

As we were preparing to launch this magazine, we told our first cohort of writers not to pitch us anything about contemporary fiction. We were bored by it, we said — mostly but not entirely tongue-in-cheek.  This issue, we’re making an exception. It seems to us that the literary ground has shifted, and the forms and themes considered most exciting just a few years ago are now all but exhausted....

Everything Has Changed | Green Capitalism and the Climate Left

Jake Bittle

The world was a very different place in 2014. The eight largest wildfires in California history had yet to occur, as had seven of the fifteen costliest hurricanes in American history. The sea level off the coast of Miami was a full inch lower. Fewer than thirty percent of Americans believed addressing climate change should be a top priority for the federal government. There had not yet been a Paris...

“Feel on Command”

Lucie Elven

One of the sweeter aspects of being grown up is that you can have relationships that accommodate ambiguity. Leaving things unsaid doesn’t have to be an act of strategy, nor one of secrecy. Drinking partners don’t need apologies the morning after. Friends are not under contract not to sleep with people you dislike. And some friendships are maintained over the phone. Recently, I have been craving writing that gives space...

“Something Must Be Happening”

Hannah Gold

“What’s going on in contemporary fiction?” There’s no arguing with a question like that, it forces narrative. Something must be happening. The only way to answer it is to tell a story about thousands of stories based on the few you’ve managed to read.   These days, there’s little overlap between what I and whomever I’m talking to are reading. I get all thrilled when it does happen, usually engineered through...

Editors’ Note | Gloom and Doom

The Editors

Call it a vibe shift; call it a backlash; call it the dawn of a new reactionary era in America. Even the mainstream liberal media has given up on the idea that Donald Trump was an aberration and that, with him out of office, the nation will course-correct towards something like progress. The paper of record has finally decided to take Tucker Carlson seriously; major publications are sending correspondents into...

“A Catastrophic Loss of Faith in America” | An Interview with Pankaj Mishra

The Drift

Over the past few months, each day has brought devastating new reports from the war in Ukraine. Beyond the horror and grief, it’s been difficult to know quite how to react — and how to interpret the mainstream commentary. We’ve wondered, at times, if there’s a reason we feel a bit out of the loop, as if everyone else is having a conversation for which we’ve missed the subtext. Maybe...

The Audacity of Nature Docs | What Barack Obama's Our Great National Parks Leaves Out

Chanelle Adams

We begin on the beach in Hanauma Bay, Hawaii. Small waves lap against the shore as the camera lands on a recognizable face. “I grew up in Hawaii,” says a barefoot Barack Obama. “This was my backyard.” Unlike his successor Donald Trump, Obama has largely stayed above the political fray. Now, as narrator of Our Great National Parks, a five-part Netflix docuseries that premiered in April, he’s dipping his toe...

All in the Family | Amy’s Kitchen and America’s Shadow Workforce

Erik Baker

Santa Rosa, California is exactly the kind of place where you’d expect to find the heart of a natural foods empire. It is, in several senses, green. An hour’s drive north of San Francisco, the largest city in California’s Wine Country is surrounded by state parks in the Mayacamas Mountains that separate Sonoma from Napa Valley. Dating back to Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943), generations of Hollywood filmmakers...

Sick to Our Stomachs | Why Does Everyone Have IBS?

Natasha Boyd

Recently, a friend related a humiliating anecdote: he had been having digestive problems, and his gastroenterologist requested detailed reports about his bowel movements. Instructed not to be squeamish about painting an accurate picture, he composed a long missive about the consistency, color, and frequency of his eliminations — only to realize that he had sent the email to his employer, instead of his doctor. He apologized profusely, and received a...

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