Losing Everything: Jenny Offill’s “Dept. of Speculation”

Dept of SpeculationWhat does it feel like to lose what matters most? It feels like life is askant, disoriented, even though you are surrounded by friends, children, and meaningful work. That’s why Jenny Offill’s Dept of Speculation (Vintage, 2014) works. Continue reading

Losing Religion, Finding Self in Thompson’s “Blankets”

Blankets CoverStories permeate religious discourse, and among the most important stories in the history of Christianity are those which recount the life converted. Shared features have emerged over time—a search for meaning, a recognition of self-limitation, choices that signal self-denial and dependence on another. These moments, which reappear through time and across cultures, signal shared understanding of faith and community, and provide theologically rich sources of reflection on God and the self. But while some evangelical conversion narratives became formulaic in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many recent “spiritual autobiographies” or “life writings” have broken convention with remarkably powerful results. Continue reading

Well Done, Harry Potter!

J K RowlingCome to find out, J. K. Rowling isn’t so different from the rest of us. Sure she has written one of the most popular series in English literary history, inspired a theme park attracting thousands of people every day to enter into a world of her own imagination, and could publish her grocery list with just about any press in the world (and, yes, people would still buy it). But maybe that’s where the differences end. Continue reading