“Mall smoothie” is a surprisingly prolific search on Twitter.
When I worried that the mall food court smoothie was somehow maybe both too niche and too broad of a topic to reflect upon, the highly specific nostalgic yearnings of internet culture pulled through. Within only a four-day period from when I first thought of writing about the mall smoothie, people had tweeted: “whyyyyy am i craving one of those smoothies from the food court at barton creek mall”, “I stay going to the mall JUST for a smoothie”, and “A smoothie from the mall would be so amazing right now”. With the exception of perhaps the vaunted Auntie Anne’s pretzel, I’m not sure there’s another snack as closely associated with teen mall-rat culture as the smoothie.
The first chapter of Julia Phillips’s superb debut, “Disappearing Earth,” begins with two sisters at the edge of a bay on a summer day. One wants to venture deeper, the other clings to shore, embarrassed by the childish antics of her younger sibling. By chapter’s end the sisters will have disappeared — kidnapped, it seems, by a man in a shiny black car. It’s a familiar setup in a wholly unfamiliar setting — the remote and beautifully bleak Kamchatka Peninsula in far eastern Russia.
What follows this abduction is a novel in the form of overlapping short stories about the women who are affected both directly and indirectly by the kidnapping. The purpose of these stories is not to unite a community around a tragedy as a less daring and more conventional narrative would have it, but to expose the ways in which the women of Kamchatka are fragmented personally, culturally and emotionally not only by the crime that jump-starts the novel, but by place, identity and the people who try, and often fail, to understand them.
Julia Copus’s poems are acts of resistance. The material tests its own boundaries to become something new. She is not limited to – or by – personal experience. One of the many pleasures of this phenomenal collection, her first for seven years, is that you cannot predict the varied ways in which these poems will fly.
The stories in this collection aren't like anything you've ever read before; there's no doubt at all that Russell is one of the most original American authors working today. She's also one of the best. Orange World is a thing of beauty, a stunning collection from one of the most brilliant literary minds of her generation.
In David Brooks’s governing metaphor, you’ve made it to the summit of life’s “first mountain”, only to discover that the view isn’t really so great and you feel empty inside. The truly joyful people are those, often impelled by a shock such as divorce or bereavement, who find their second mountain, abandoning themselves to a greater cause, forgoing the life they’d wanted for whatever the world needs from them.
One year after my sister is dragged to the Farmhouse
I place an ad in the newspaper that says Let’s Go Swimming