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Essay

Bright Stars

The unfulfilled promise of American citizenship

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The Old Normal

Why we can’t beat our addiction to war

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Trumpism After Trump

Will the movement outlive the man?

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Vicious Cycles

This is what I feared, that she would speak about the news . . . about how her father always said that the news exists so it can disappear, this is…

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Body Language

I am eight years old, sitting in my childhood kitchen, ready to watch one of the home videos my father has made. The videotape still exists somewhere, so somewhere she…

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To Serve Is to Rule

The WASP story is personal for me. I arrived at Yale in 1971 from a thoroughly mediocre suburb in New Jersey, the second-generation hybrid of Irish and Italian stock riding…

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Is Poverty Necessary?

In 1989 I published a book about a plutonium-producing nuclear complex in En­gland, on the coast of the Irish Sea. The plant is called Sellafield now. In 1957, when it…

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Where Our New World Begins

The river “flows up the map,” they used to say, first south, then west, and then north, and through some of the most verdant and beautiful country in America. It…

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Whisperings

Once, in an exuberant state, feeling filled with the muse, I told another writer: When I write, I know everything. Everything about the characters? she asked. No, I said, everything…

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Works of Mercy

Thirty-two years ago my newborn daughter was discharged from Boston Children’s Hospital after an operation to repair a congenital birth defect and a lengthy period of recovery. Her mother and…

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The Story of Storytelling

The story begins, as so many do, with a journey. In this case, it’s a seemingly simple one: a young girl, cloaked in red, must carry a basket of food…

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Machine Politics

“The Goliath of totalitarianism will be brought down by the David of the microchip,” Ronald Reagan said in 1989. He was speaking to a thousand British notables in London’s historic…

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The Gatekeepers

Toward the end of the Obama presidency, the work of James Baldwin began to enjoy a renaissance that was both much overdue and comfortless. Baldwin stands as one of the…

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Rebirth of a Nation

Donald Trump’s presidency signals a profound but inchoate realignment of American politics. On the one hand, his administration may represent the consolidation of minority control by a Republican-dominated Senate under…

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Nothing but Gifts

If necessity is the stern but respectable mother of invention, then perhaps desperation is the derelict father of subterfuge. That was certainly the case when I moved to Seattle in…

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The Printed Word in Peril

In February, at an event at the 92nd Street Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center in New York, while sharing the stage with my fellow British writer Martin Amis and discussing the…

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Labor’s Last Stand

Having already determined in Citizens United that corporations are people, the Supreme Court decided in May that people, at least working people of vulnerable status, can be prevented from acting…

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Exiled

It has become something of a commonplace to say that Mike Pence belongs to another era. He is a politician whom the New York Times has called a “throwback,” a “conservative proudly…

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Seven Years of Identity Theft

Dear Most Honorable President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, It all started at the Crossroads Literary Festival in Macon, Georgia, on October 2, 2011. Or that is my guess. I was…

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Four More Years

Let us think the unthinkable. Let us imagine Donald Trump’s potential path to reelection as president of the United States. Read More

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The Other Whisper Network

No one would talk to me for this piece. Or rather, more than twenty women talked to me, sometimes for hours at a time, but only after I promised to…

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The Infinity of the Small

It is the end of June, and I am wandering about my small island in Maine. I’ve been thinking about the materiality of the world. Today, I just want to…

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The Other Whisper Network

No one would talk to me for this piece. Or rather, more than twenty women talked to me, sometimes for hours at a time, but only after I promised to…

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The Future of Queer

In the spring of 2017, for the first time since publishing a memoir set at the height of San Francisco’s AIDS epidemic, I summoned the nerve to teach a course…

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Monumental Error

In 1899, the art critic Layton Crippen complained in the New York Times that private donors and committees had been permitted to run amok, erecting all across the city a…

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The Reichstag Fire Next Time

When each day brings more news than we are used to seeing in a week, and the kind of news that only the most catastrophic imagination can accommodate, we find…

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Safety in Numbers

I went to fetch some new chickens the other day. The birds were Rhode Island Reds, homely and reliable, and so meek that it took the breeder and me only…

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Black Like Who?

I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I…

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June 2020