All in Book Reviews

No Impeccable Self to Reach

By Catherine Johnson
In The Collected Schizophrenias, Esmé Weijun Wang challenges readers not only to participate in recreating how our culture treats and understands mental illness, but to explore some of our most basic assumptions about identity and suffering.

The Tripods

By Rachel Greben
Science fiction at its best presents a heightened state of human possibility and peril, and reading it as a child provided architecture for my soul, along with a promise that growing up would be harrowing and fraught with danger.

Homunculi of the Mind

By Lucas Bernhardt
When Paul Linebarger wasn’t busy practicing psychological warfare, he wrote fiction under the name Cordwainer Smith—much of it set in a far, far future he may or may not have believed he’d visited.

Two Thousand, Five Hundred and Two Books to Read or Die Trying

By Matthew Hein
Those who harbor guilt over incomplete assignments from their formal educations—Frankenstein, Our Mutual Friend, Dante’s Paradiso—hardly need new assignments. But Mustich’s book, pleasingly designed by Janet Vicario, offers something special: pretty pictures. They’re well-chosen: sexy author portraits, cool first-edition covers, and pages of hand-corrected drafts.

Beyond Fixed Boundaries

By Catherine Johnson
Inheritance is less about what we inherit genetically and more about how stories of family lineage not only shape notions of identity and what it means to know oneself, but the stability of that identity and knowledge.

To Be Human and Get Away With It

By Rachel Greben
Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow
is built as a fairy tale: the daughter, Sofia Scicolone, journeys far from home to achieve her calling as Sophia Loren, but the road home is treacherous. Relationships with both mother and mother country are beloved and complex. Growing up inhibited by poverty, war, and illegitimacy, Loren turns to the fairy-tale world of cinema not only as a means of opportunity, but also as a way of managing the drama of life.

A Symphony of Voices

By Catherine Johnson
“The stories we tell about our own lives, to others but especially to ourselves, we tell in order to make our lives livable,” writes Maria Popova in her new book, Figuring. At its core this book is precisely that: a beautifully woven collage of stories about how we tell stories. How we construct the narratives of individuals and humanity at large in order to make our relative millisecond of existence worthwhile.