:: Essays

All in the Family, or Of Fathers and Daughters published 19/05/2020

Father was torn between wanting to bring up the ideal version of an educated, provincial, small town girl, and the dominating, confident, independent woman with a mind of her own that he could see me transforming into. My gratifying confidence was his failing. I was precocious, given to boisterous tics and tantrums, looking for attention. From a young age, I had resisted his Brahmanical uptight paternalism and controlling cruelty. I had shown promise in academics and then had eventually failed to live up to expectations. While in college I had a string of boyfriends and shared the knowledge of their existence with him. I used to write in effervescent English, but my essays and poetry were too strong for his taste. I had the temerity not just to write, but also to share online links to my modern, obscure, strong-headed, pessimistic, bleak, gallows humor writing with him.

By Anandi Mishra.

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Touching Is a Verb: The Hands of the Pandemic and the Inescapable Questions published 14/05/2020

The border of a home is its door, but the most interesting operations happen through the windows. That’s where what is perceived, but not reached, is. Desire is its other name. A window is a passage, often a secret passage. Discern is a verb that occurs through glass. Although many imagine Houston as a dry place because of its association with the Texan aridity, this place is, as Gabriela Wiener once rightly described it, the Amazon itself. The humidity and sultry air make it favorable for the proliferation of oaks and magnolia trees, vines and ferns, bougainvillea and bamboo. They were here before, of course, but they’re more noticeable now that the gardeners have stopped coming and the plants grow as they will. The variety of their greens explodes on median strips and gardens, empty lots and back patios. The shadows that the trees produce are cast, precisely, over the imperfections of the pavement.

By Cristina Rivera Garza, translated by Sarah Booker.

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Location Settings, or: the Death of the City published 07/05/2020

In New York City, the weekend before last, on Day 16,  the data showed me that we were dying at the rate of one every nine-point-five minutes. I’ve never been good at math but I know the number of the dead in New York City has more than doubled since then. It’s been five minutes since I began typing this dispatch. Six. Location, location, location. Every major city in the world is right now relevant; every resident of every city is right now being read as a statistic. I paused, just now, to account for us. Another ambulance barrels down the street; I try to picture its path from my window, which is open. Sunlight, a bare breeze.

By Chris Campanioni.

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Real or Fake? Autofiction and The Hills published 05/05/2020

I started talking about The Hills, firstly, because, as I mentioned, the theme tune comes to mind when I’m asked about autofiction, which I recently was, yet again (“Staring at the blank page before you / Open up the dirty window / Let the sun illuminate…”), but also to demonstrate how it so casually and unapologetically did something the world of contemporary literature is struggling to get its head around, even now. In an age when the artists, the leading intellectuals, the people who are supposed to be at the forefront of avant-garde thought and experimentalism, whatever the hell that might be these days (sitting in a large room and holding eye-contact with people? Not using full stops? Taking drugs?), are clamouring about definitions between fiction, autofiction, and fact, The Hills managed to blur the lines entirely between fact and fiction, and to do so in a way that proved genuinely exciting, without having to have endless debates over what it actually was.

Lucy Sweeney Byrne reflects on the intersection between The Hills and autofiction.

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A Complete Family / hstry published 04/05/2020

For several months after my uterus was removed, I continued to bleed from my vagina. The stitches were dissolving; they said goodbye in crimson streams. The cruel irony taste of this stubborn blood was not lost on me. Still, I was thankful, having heard my whole life that this procedure was unthinkable for a healthy young adult—unthinkable to make my future child not my child, impossible to embody today an already-empty future. In this present-future I am already useless. I am, as Lee Edelman writes, irredeemable.

By Sarah Cavar.

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Fear and Flee the Vampire? Reading Dracula in Lockdown London published 27/04/2020

… as the metaphor of a virus is turning back to reality, I can’t help but sense yet another, more subtle and more chilling aspect of reading the vampire as a trope for infection beginning to emanate from our discussion; beneath all its quaint quirkiness this virus exposes not just the fears haunting the narrower minds of the nineteenth century. The moral prowess of those most eager to contain the vampire virus in the plotlines of a holy battle is put into question anew, with disturbing implications.  Soberingly, our twenty-first century reality does not appear as such a secure vantage point after all: for the amphibian antics, child-eating gore and erotic fantasies of the vampire are all channelled through a perspective that is antisemitic, xenophobic or homophobic in turns. As Bram Stoker was only too aware, we’re most afraid of the darkness inside ourselves.

By Katharina Donn.

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Technological Slavery 2.0: Ghosts of Hypernormalization and the Role of Art in a Pandemic published 13/04/2020

In the middle of a global pandemic, with countries on lockdowns, systems scrambling to operate, forced closures of businesses, factories and warehouses, mass lay-offs and unemployment, things seem strangely ‘normal.’ Many people seem to be either ignoring the event, or are suspicious of the media’s portrayal of it, and do not take the necessary steps to protect themselves. The irony of this is that despite the apparent blasé nature of this reaction, shelves continue to be emptied of the essential items like toilet paper, paper towels, sanitizers, bleach and cleaning products, cans of soup, meat and dairy. Panic buying has taken on a face of nonchalance and dejected familiarity. Panic is, in this sense, entirely hypernormal.

By Tom Pazderka.

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Happy Birthday 3:AM! published 01/04/2020

Launched in April 2000, 3:AM Magazine turns 20 this month!

To celebrate, here’s a brief extract from Will Wiles‘s wonderful novel Plume, which has just come out in paperback:

“But since the appearance of Murder Boards, Pierce had acquired a small but eager following, myself included. His post-riots essay for 3:AM Magazine, ‘Beneath the Paving Stones, the Fire’, had circulated on Twitter and Tumblr for more than a month, and was republished by the New York Times“.

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On Sentimentality published 30/03/2020

At the Mildura Writer’s Festival in 2019, on a panel with Craig Sherborne and Moreno Giovannoni, Helen Garner spoke about Raymond Carver’s unedited stories. She hated them for all of their sentimental scenes—ones that would be removed by Carver’s editor Gordon Lish for What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Lish took a knife to the cushy scenes and Carver became a master of the spare and cutting.

By Robert Albazi.

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The Negative Dialectics of Social Distancing published 26/03/2020

Today, in the middle of the global pandemic of COVID-19, we find another opportunity for negative dialectical thinking in the phrase “social distancing.” Offered as a recommendation for how best to hinder the spread of the virus, social distancing is, on the surface, a simple synonym of avoidance, isolation, or quarantining. If we, as individuals, limit our exposure to other bodies, then the chances of spreading the virus will decrease. Seems simple enough. But, as with so many phrases, this one has a lot lurking beneath the surface. Negative dialectical thinking plumbs the depths.

By Will Daddario.

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