The Blog

Elena Ferrante's TROUBLING LOVE

Stiliana Milkova

Published in Italy in 1991, Elena Ferrante’s novel Troubling Love caused a literary sensation and earned its author the Elsa Morante prize—one of Italy’s most prestigious awards for literature. Thanks to translator Ann Goldstein, the book now affords us English-speakers the guilty pleasure of delving into dark and forbidden places—the insides of the mother-daughter body, the ins and outs of the mother-daughter relationship. In Troubling Love, Ferrante cuts open and examines the female psyche and body against the backdrop of gritty, unforgiving Naples.

Sex, Rocks, and Taxidermy: A Conversation with Chris Offutt

Alex Dezen

[This interview appeared in the Winter 2011 issue of The Iowa Review.]

I first met Chris Offutt outside the fabled Foxhead bar on Iowa City’s east side. What I had heard about Chris Offutt was that he graduated from the Workshop during the fabled Conroy days—when Frank Conroy ruled the Workshop with painstaking intensity and tough love—and that he wrote about hunting. I had shot a pigeon with a BB gun at age twelve, from the second-story window of my friend’s brownstone in the Bronx, an experience that continues to plague me with guilt.

Melanie Rae Thon's IN THIS LIGHT

Vanessa Blakeslee

One often hears of a certain writer’s gift for rendering poetic prose, spellbinding in its precision and rhythm, but rarely have I picked up a short story collection and found nearly every sentence living up to such claims. Not so with In This Light by Melanie Rae Thon, the recipient of a Whiting Award, two NEA fellowships, and the author of four novels in addition to two story collections, Girls in the Grass (1991) and First, Body (1997). In This Light showcases selections from those previous collections along with several new stories. Throughout the book, Thon uses metaphor, repetition, and salient detail to bring her characters’ lives to their often violent, destructive crescendos.


Michael Martin Shea

Water Puppets, Quan Barry’s third full-length collection and winner of the 2010 Donald Hall Prize in Poetry, is anything but puppetry, striking a forceful blow against the idea of poetry as naïve navel-gazing. It takes as its motivating question, “What does poetry have to do with the real world?” and throws an emphatic response, as Barry builds a narrative at once personal and political, reflecting on her own past as an immigrant from Vietnam as well as the current state of world affairs.

(Do Not) Beat Poets

Lynne Nugent

Sometimes I imagine the Iowa Review, publisher of literary fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, as inhabiting the opposite side of the publishing spectrum from, say, a newspaper: not so much Great Men or Great Events—what Virginia Woolf summarized as the kind of history that proclaims, "In the year 1842 Lord John Russell brought in the Second Reform Bill"—as a more lowercase version of history: personal, idiosyncratic, filtered through the consciousness of a single writer who, in the moment of writing, seems not so much engaged with world events as contemplating them from a distance.


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