All in The Epiphanic

Benjamin Finally Arrives: On THE STORYTELLER ESSAYS

by Tess Crain

Spanning 1929 to 1936, Walter Benjamin’s The Storyteller Essays, out this year from NYRB Classics, circles the question: Why is the art of storytelling dying out? The collection comprises thirteen pieces of diverse form and audience that nonetheless share a thematic lineage. Just as the salient features of grandparents (a curved nose, full lips) may suddenly manifest in the faces of a younger generation, here, concepts and even whole passages from an earlier meditation will resurface, slightly altered or not at all, a few essays later. At the end of the book, short writings by contemporaries (Bloch, Lukács) and inspirations (the playful Hebel, Herodotus) are appended. From an ardent cross-pollination of ideas, traits of these authors, too, crop up in Benjamin’s work.

A Technical Masterwork: On Ben Lerner's THE TOPEKA SCHOOL

by Zack Graham

You don’t read Ben Lerner’s writing. You read Ben Lerner’s mind. His immense, contorted, self-effacing, hilarious intellect propels his narratives. Sure, his novels have characters, plots, themes. But those elements aren’t why Lerner is one of America’s best young fiction writers. Lerner is brilliant, and his novels resemble doctored and polished transcripts of his mind’s inner workings.

Communing with the Imaginary Friend in Amanda Goldblatt's HARD MOUTH

by Tess Crain

What is the meaning of an imaginary friend? Appearing mainly to children but at times lasting into adulthood, invented companions can signal madness, creativity, both, or neither. Sometimes, they simply serve as company. A writer I know used to have an unreal pal named Zee—“he had a kind of sarcastic jauntiness”—who resembled a wisp of smoke and wore a monocle, like an ephemeral Mr. Peanut: “he was my only real friend for a while.” My roommate had a tiny, bald, blue man who sat on her shoulder and scouted for danger. A college friend once had multiple miniature dragons. In most cases, these familiars erupt from the collision between psyche and environment: reading a fantasy series, watching performance art, loneliness.

Master of Horror To-Be: On the Nightmares of Nick Antosca

by Zack Graham

You probably haven’t heard of Nick Antosca, but you will soon. He wrote on one of the most psychologically nuanced and visually arresting television series ever in “Hannibal.” In late 2017, Guillermo del Toro signed on to produce Antosca’s feature-length script Antlers. At 36, Antosca is well on his way to becoming a modern master of horror, on par with a Robert Eggers, an Ari Aster, or a Jordan Peele.

With THE NICKEL BOYS, Colson Whitehead Yet Again Proves His Brilliance

by Zack Graham

One of the most talented American novelists of his generation, Colson Whitehead’s nine books constitute about as diverse a body of work as any living writer’s. His settings include a post-apocalyptic zombie attack, an American slave plantation in the 1700s, the mid-’80s Hampton’s, and the modern World Poker Tour. He is the recipient of nearly every serious literary award and/or honor known to mankind, and his essays and stories have appeared in every leading English-language newspaper and magazine. The man is a national treasure.

The Ways In Which We Borrow

by Robb Todd

There is trouble on the street tonight. Had a premonition that she should not go alone. She caught me stealing once when I was five. I enjoy stealing. It is as simple as that. It is just a simple fact. Because mutiny on the bounty is what we are all about. We are going to board your ship and turn it on out. 

Christian's Wasp

by Siena Oristaglio

I’m lying in bed listening to the sound of wasps gnawing at my windowsill.

It’s Saturday.

Sunlight sprawls sleepily across my pillow.

I blink into its glow.

I open an article from Harper’s on my phone.