Letters & Essays

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No. 209 Summer 2014

Andrea Barrett, Dust

I’ve touched on this unusual man Oliver Lodge before: he gives two crucial talks in a story I wrote called “The Ether of Space.” Still, I don’t seem to be done with him and at various times ...

No. 206 Fall 2013

Karl Kraus, Against Heine

Kraus’s suspicion of the “melody of life” in France and Italy still has merit. His contention here—that walking down a street in Paris or Rome is an aesthetic experience in itself—is ...

No. 205 Summer 2013

Kristin Dombek, Letter from Williamsburg

There are many kinds of prayer. There is a kind of prayer that’s like breathing. There is a kind of prayer that’s like talking to your best friend all day long. There is a kind of prayer in the face of ...

No. 204 Spring 2013

Lorin Stein, Editor’s Note Full Text

DEAR READER:   For the cover of our sixtieth-anniversary issue, we asked the French artist JR to make a giant poster of George Plimpton’s face and paste it up on a wall in Paris, as a symbolic homecoming ...

David Searcy, Mad Science

Hank VanWagoner was the most spectacular smart kid in the neighborhood. He lived two or three houses down across the alley, and we’d hear him testing rockets in his backyard sometimes, usually on weekends. Bear ...

Vivian Gornick, Letter from Greenwich Village

In the drugstore I run into ninety-year-old Vera, a Trotskyist from way back who lives in a fourth-floor walk-up in my neighborhood, and whose voice is always pitched at the level of soapbox urgency. She is waiting ...

No. 203 Winter 2012

J. D. Daniels, Letter from Kentucky Full Text

John C. Skaggs was born in Green County in 1805, thirteen years after Kentucky became our fifteenth state. His son, Ben Skaggs, was born in 1835 in Bald Hollow and married Missouri Ann Carter. Their second eldest ...

No. 201 Summer 2012

Davy Rothbart, Human Snowball

Rich Cohen, Pirate City

Long before the foundations of New Orleans were laid, the river existed as a legend and a rumor. It was the monster to the west, just beyond the next hill, stand of trees, prairie, horizon. It was the mother of all ...

Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, Young Berries

A mother brought her girl to a sanatorium for sickly children and left. I was that girl. The sanatorium looked over a big pond that was encircled by an autumnal park, with meadows and paths. The tall trees seemed ...

J. D. Daniels, Letter from Majorca Full Text

Let’s suppose you are a serious person, or you transmit to yourself certain conventional signals of a sort of seriousness: you reread Tacitus, you attempt to reread Proust but it can’t be done, you listen ...

No. 200 Spring 2012

John Jeremiah Sullivan, Sources for “The Princes” Full Text

Below are select documents from the sources referenced in “The Princes: A Reconstruction.” A complete list of sources is also available here.    ...Bibliography of the Algonquian Languages, ...

David Searcy, El Camino Doloroso

The thing about custom cars and hot rods—glancing through a copy of Rod & Custom magazine, you can see they tend to grade into each other—is the strangely counterintuitive sort of ...

John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Princes: A Reconstruction

No. 198 Fall 2011

Geoff Dyer, Into the Zone

You know that expression “famous last words”? We are naturally curious about people’s last words, but it would be interesting to compile an exhaustive list of the first words—not just ...

Lydia Davis, Some Notes on Translation and on Madame Bovary

Bouffées d’affadissement Not long ago, I was chatting with an older friend who is a retired engineer and also something of a writer, but not of fiction. When he heard that I had just finished a ...

No. 196 Spring 2011

Édouard Levé, When I Look at a Strawberry, I Think of a Tongue Full Text

When I was young, I thought Life: A User’s Manual would teach me how to live and Suicide: A User’s Manual how to die. I don’t really listen to what people tell me. I forget things I don’t ...

John Jeremiah Sullivan, Unnamed Caves

We approached a grotto. A curving, amphitheater-like hillside went down to a basin. It was Edenic. “No diver has ever been able to get to the bottom of that thing,” Jan said, indicating the blue-black ...

No. 195 Winter 2010

Peter Matthiessen et al., Thomas Guinzburg Full Text

1926–2010   What great good luck for our nebulous and as yet unnamed Paris Review when Tom Guinzburg, all unsuspecting of the role he was to play, turned up in Paris in the spring of 1952, shortly after ...

No. 194 Fall 2010

Lorin Stein, Editor's Note Full Text

Dear Reader: Fifty-seven years ago, in Paris, a handful of young expatriates started a little magazine devoted to fiction and poetry. This was not an obvious thing to do in 1953. The smart journals were ...

J. D. Daniels, Letter from Cambridge

John Jeremiah Sullivan, Mister Lytle: An Essay Full Text

When I was twenty years old, I became a kind of apprentice to a man named Andrew Lytle, whom pretty much no one apart from his negligibly less ancient sister, Polly, had addressed except as Mister Lytle in at least ...

No. 193 Summer 2010

Julia Whitty, Deep Blue Home

We motor through the clammy mists veiling the coastline. Visibility comes and goes but mostly goes, forcing us to home by sound—the dull thud and whoosh of waves, the piping calls of black guillemots, or sea ...

Victor LaValle, The Gospel According to P——

I didn’t even know my brother existed until I was ten years old. His was a name I’d heard floating around, but I never actually attached it to a human being. Like how I know Napoleon was real, but when I ...

Wenguang Huang, Coffin Keeper

When I was nine, I shared my bedroom with a coffin. My father had it made for my grandmother for her seventy-third birthday and referred to it as shou mu, which means something like “longevity wood,” and ...

No. 192 Spring 2010

Nicolai Lilin, The Pike

When I was small I didn’t care about toys. What I liked doing when I was four or five was prowling around the house to see if my grandfather or my uncle were taking their weapons apart to clean them. They were ...