A Glass Essay

Reading Anne Carson post-breakup

Sarah Chihaya

An interior view of the Radcliffe Camera at Oxford University, where the author spent a summer re-reading Anne Carson's "The Glass Essay." Getty Images / Lonely Planet

In the last week of june 2018, I got unexpectedly dumped. During the month that followed, I did the only thing that felt right: I read Anne Carson’s long poem “The Glass Essay” every day. I had come to Oxford to teach a summer class as England endured a historic drought, and the sun shone heartlessly, beautifully every day. Every morning I woke up, ran around the park, rushed through a shower and a coffee, and ascended to the upper reading room of the Radcliffe Camera, one of Oxford’s extravagantly beautiful libraries. I would claim my favorite desk, with my favorite graffito (“LIBIDINAL COMMUNISM”) etched in its wood frame, and lean back in my chair, staring up into the rotunda’s scrolled dome. Then, once my mind was blank and still, usually around 9:25, I’d open Carson and begin. The poem starts:

I can hear little clicks inside my dream.
Night drips its silver tap
down the back.
At 4 A.M. I wake. Thinking

of the man who
left in September.
His name was Law.

From the first time I read them after the breakup, these lines laced me into the poem good and tight. “The Glass Essay” is a complex structure, holding two disparate elements together in a surprising balance: an intimate meditation on a romantic breakup, and a critical reading of the life of Emily Brontë. The poem immediately became the frame I required to shape the posture of my hours. I needed to read it to stay upright during the day and to stay lying down at night. I too know that slow, cold drip down the spine because I’m a bad sleeper; at 4 a.m. I’m always either going to bed or suddenly starting awake. But the main point of identification was so obvious I didn’t even bother to note it: I was going through a breakup, and “The Glass Essay” is indisputably the greatest breakup poem ever written. (Don’t try to argue with me on this.) The urge to reread flowed out of my desire to sink further into the poem and its speaker and remain there, a desire that in turn flowed out of the deeper, inane desire (Carson’s, my own) to sink further into the memory of the departed lover and remain there. On the cusp of dark and dawn, I would lie in my narrow bed and try to memorize the whole thirty-eight-page poem. I never got very far, but certain lines snagged in my mind. The moments that really cut were where the language is plainest, most painful: “His name was Law.”

The name of the man in Carson’s poem puzzled me every time I read it. I wondered, always, what I was supposed to take from this solemn pun. Was “Law” his real name? Is it a name at all, or is it a talisman, perhaps a command? I knew I could seek out answers or speculations from other readers, or perhaps even by emailing or speaking with the writer, as other scholars of contemporary literature might. But I didn’t then and still don’t want to. I prefer to stay alone with this poem.

And so I sank and took “The Glass Essay” down with me, not yet understanding that it had much more to teach me than the loss of love.

This yearning for a lost lover named Law raises a question: Is to be loveless to be lawless? If Law equals love, then is love—when requited, respected—the thing that keeps us in line, restrained and civil? Certainly, both loss and longing are states of emergency, outside the law. Perhaps to be with Law is to be governed by him, or by desire for him. Or is it the opposite? One brief moment in the poem seems like it might offer an answer, but then flatly refuses to:

Well, there are different definitions of Liberty.
Love is freedom, Law was fond of saying.
I took this to be more a wish than a thought

and changed the subject.

The man who fractured my heart that summer, and cleanly broke it later on, was also fond of speculating about love and freedom. For someone who talked and wrote a lot to friends and strangers, he didn’t put much stake in the verbal as a mode of emotional honesty. Looking back, I see now that he thought love was the freedom not to explain yourself, a millennial version of “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.” Love, to him, was something like a complete freedom of self-expression so expansive and natural it didn’t have to be contained in words but could instead be communicated purely through gaze, or touch, or atmospheric resonance. I believe in gazes and touches and atmospheres, but I cannot—and would never—forsake my belief in words. I am most free and real when jostling around restlessly in the human laboratory of dialogue.

But dialogue requires someone who will talk back: that is its fundamental rule. It is proof of the lawlessness of love that I could love him when we didn’t even agree that this rule existed.

his name was luck.

Luck because I met him at a time when I was stoutly resisting the temptation to declare myself terminally unlucky in love. I did not want to let myself off the hook like that, did not want to make lame cosmic excuses for my loneliness with abstractions like fate or doom. But then I met him, and knew that luck was real, because he just appeared one day, out of the ether of a dating app. We found that we craved the same foods, laughed at the same small things, liked the same smells and colors. It was plain good fortune to have met. In fact, it was the first major stroke of fortune I’d had since I’d gotten my teaching job, a fancy position at a prestigious university in which I had been flailing—unfit and unwell, rather than unlucky—for several years. And now here was Luck, another outwardly successful person who had his own share of doubts and regrets, and empathized with my feeling of unfitness and unease. We were both sad, lucky people who felt that our luck was unearned, a problem that is understandably very annoying to most. What luck to have found each other!

When Luck left me that June, I gave in to the mortifying feeling that I was loveless, outside the laws of normal life. The months in England were a mourning time, I told myself with false confidence. When I went home in the fall, it would be over—not better, just over. And so I sank and took “The Glass Essay” down with me, not yet understanding that it had much more to teach me than the loss of love.

for most of my life
, the only thing I could call myself with any certainty was a reader. A reader of books and, I realized somewhat late, a reader of people. Many of us who were lonely children see ourselves this way. In elementary school I saved my quarters for slim Bantam paperbacks, read under the covers, and lived almost wholly in my imagination—the whole starter kit of clichés that compose the shy, bookish child.

I realized early that the idea of age appropriateness in books was a sham, and for years I read anything that captured my imagination. Even in college, I rarely did the assigned reading; instead, I wound my way through an idiosyncratic personal canon. I was always reading the wrong thing at the wrong time, it seemed—and often in the wrong place. (I got fired from a library job for getting caught reading a fantasy novel in a study carrel when I was supposed to be shelving books.) But these choices were right to me. Finding the right books to love felt as natural and unplanned as finding the right people to love.

In graduate school, though, there suddenly seemed to be consequences for reading indiscriminately. My reading, and my writing about reading, were often considered irresponsible, by which my professors and peers meant that they were undertheorized, uninformed, and unresearched. This was a brutal lesson that I came to appreciate. I developed parameters of thought and rigor that shaped how I read, learning to channel even the most randomly stumbled-upon texts into my dissertation’s overarching argument. And so, I became accustomed to (and even dependent upon) a kind of disciplined liberty. I accepted that while objectivity was impossible, subjectivity was perhaps avoidable. I became a professional reader.

That summer abroad, I hadn’t intended to read “The Glass Essay,” as I’d never considered myself a responsible reader of Anne Carson. Since I was not a classicist, and her work is suffused with Classical references and texts, I felt I would not have permission until I learned enough about the ancient poets to read her properly— and so, realistically, never. But a couplet from “The Glass Essay” I had seen quoted in a friend’s dissertation stuck in my mind:

When Law left I felt so bad I thought I would die.
This is not uncommon.

When Luck left me, these lines resurfaced. That’s it, I thought. That is love. The blank honesty of the couplet made me need Carson; I had to give in to her.

In Oxford, I was supposed to be writing the scholarly book I never ended up finishing; instead, I summoned up a short stack of Carson from the depths of the Bodleian. Slim books with great, epic names: Glass, Irony, and God; Eros the Bittersweet; Economy of the Unlost. I encountered “The Glass Essay” upon opening the first of these. For a few days it was just something I was muddling through, a poem I was still in the midst of deciphering. But by the end of that week I had read it and annotated it and read it again, and I still felt a need for it. I could not read anything else until I had satisfied that need. “The Glass Essay” stood in the way of any other text. That’s how it became part of my daily schedule: run, shower, coffee, read “The Glass Essay,” work. On the weekends, when the reading room was closed and LIBIDINAL COMMUNISM inaccessible, I’d change it up a little: read “The Glass Essay” upon waking, run, coffee, shower, work. As someone who thinks mostly about novels, I am shy around poetry; I feel often as though it is reading me more than I am reading it. After years of feeling that way, it was strange to wake up and read a poem every day, and to feel I had grown intimate with it, tender with its idiosyncrasies of form and rhythm. For four or five weeks this went on, the poem becoming as falsely natural as a piercing, a foreign body fitted snugly into the internal and external material of my life.

To make clear the strangeness of this, I must first admit to being a compulsive failed self-improver. My parents hope to attain eternal life through dietary restriction; trained from childhood to respect other people’s regimens, I’ve always admired those who can develop systems of personal organization and live consistently within them. Perhaps in reaction to the strictness of my childhood, I am not one of those people. At the beginning of every school year, I make detailed schedules for days of teaching, days of writing, days of reading, but after a week or two, everything falls apart, and the only plans I can follow are my lesson plans. I am addicted to working and thinking as the spirit moves me, in the maddening way that only the unattached, often depressive person can get away with: seventy-two-hour writing benders, followed by days or weeks of melancholic collapse; periods of mental slog punctuated by a sudden sprint through five or six books without breaks for food or movement. I recognize the decadence of this lifestyle. In the brief neutral moments between these altered states I find it extremely embarrassing and self-indulgent. Yet no matter how many rules I attempt to impose upon myself, the only predictable cycle I maintain is the endless loop of plans made, plans broken, self-flagellation.

So the Carson program came as a real surprise. The closest experience I’d had to it were the summer days, governed by animal schedules, that I’d spent working on farms on and off throughout my life. In fact, there was something reassuringly animal-like about the predetermined hours of that month, as though the poem were the morning scoop of grain I needed to ruminate on to give me enough energy to move through the day. The poem was necessary sustenance.

in staring at carson’s words
day after day, I found myself doing something I’d been trained in graduate school not to do: I started to see myself reflected in them. I fell deeply and unquestioningly into identification with the speaker, seeking out similarities, imagining that we felt the same emotions and sensations. It was like falling in love.

The line “Mother and I are chewing lettuce carefully” brought back the diet-ruled dinners of my childhood, my parents and me silently chewing cold leaves and roots with grim concentration. The speaker doesn’t like to lie late in bed in the mornings, and neither do I. (Her: “Law did. / My mother does.” Me: Luck didn’t, either.) Soon I even felt a tug of fond familiarity reading about things that I don’t do or feel. Standing at the open refrigerator, the speaker says,

White foods taste best to me

and I prefer to eat alone. I don’t know why.

I don’t feel any particular way about white foods, and I prefer to eat in company. But rereading those lines, I was momentarily certain that I too felt as the speaker did and had to remind myself that this was not the case. These tiny, domestic sympathies, embedded in a poem that deals with the very biggest questions—What is love? What is God? What is art, who dares attempt it, and at what cost? What are mother and father and self?—folded me into the text with a bodily immediacy, rather than keeping me at the cool distance of scholarly reading.

Looking back, I wonder if cultivating intimacy with the text in this way was a self-soothing mechanism. I don’t think it was. Processing the breakup through this act of rereading, redoubling, and remembering revolved around the neutral cruelty of repetition. As Carson writes,

Perhaps the hardest thing about losing a lover is
to watch the year repeat its days.
It is as if I could dip my hand down

into time and scoop up
blue and green lozenges of April heat
a year ago in another country.

I can feel that other day running underneath this one
like an old videotape…

After you walk away from a last good-bye, the terrain of everyday life is suddenly overlaid with the haunted geography of an entire relationship. Every space is layered with the fine sediment of recollection. Any time you trip and reach out for balance, your hand might accidentally slip “down // into time” and dredge up something beautiful or awful from those years or months or weeks past.

Did he really want to see me, or did he simply want to be allowed to see something, to be granted the pleasure of mere access?

The self, too, is multiplied, and might cross itself if you are not careful. As time slides and aligns and blurs, so too does Carson’s speaker feel her present self slip into a past self of the hot last April, inhabiting simultaneously a then-“she,” trapped in memory, and a now-“I,” writing in the present. Typing these lines, even now I feel my heartbeat double for a moment with syncopated desire. I feel the chilly presence of my own ghostly double from this time last year; she is sitting at this same desk, awaiting Luck’s response to a long email of supplication, nauseated by the mingling of hope and exhaustion.

The looped rereading of “The Glass Essay” made everything feel like the present, rather than the past. All the moments with Luck were there at once, and all the selves that I had been in relation to him, too. The self reading Carson in the library; the self lying on my floor a few weeks earlier, asking him what he thought love was; the self dashing around cooking dinner with him in his tiny kitchen. Il punto a cui tutti li tempi son presenti, to crib Dante’s mystical phrase: “the point when all the times are present.” The ritualized rereading of “The Glass Essay” summoned all these times and held them in shimmering alignment, just as Carson’s speaker feels moments overlapping in the poem. I wonder if a part of me still believed, childishly, that the repeated incantation of a name or a phrase is a powerful summoning spell—you know, “Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary,” “Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice.” (Luck, Luck, Luck.) Could the repeated reading of a poem bring its words into my actual life in a consequential way? In those weeks, I did feel something uncanny was coming over me and Oxford, which was bleached unfamiliar shades of straw and gold by the drought. I couldn’t tell if this was an effect of the text or of my compulsive rereading of it.

Of course, Carson’s poem enacts a similar question: it is itself a lyric essay on rereading Emily Brontë, and how this rereading leads the speaker to view the conditions of her life differently.

When it opens, the speaker has retreated to her mother’s house in the remote North to convalesce from the loss of Law. She takes with her:

…a lot of books—

some for my mother, some for me
including The Collected Works Of Emily Brontë.
This is my favourite author.

We find “Three silent women at the kitchen table”: Carson, her mother, and Emily, communicating blurrily as through an “atmosphere of glass.” The odd presence of Emily at that kitchen table, quietly lurking inside her book, made me think about the presence of Anne Carson in my own day-to-day activities, an Anne Carson I began to half-imagine as embodied rather than em-booked. Anne Carson jogging lightly beside me in the park, Anne Carson absent-mindedly humming behind me in the coffee queue, Anne Carson sitting opposite me in the library, leaning back coolly in her chair like a rebel in a high school movie, watching me read her poem for the thirteenth or twenty-third time.

This strange feeling of possession was itself mimetic of the poem. For just as I felt myself inhabiting Carson’s “I,” so does Carson’s speaker feel herself doubling her “favourite author.” Yet Emily, writes Carson, is also

…my main fear, which I mean to confront.
Whenever I visit my mother
I feel I am turning into Emily Brontë,

my lonely life around me like a moor,
my ungainly body stumping over the mud flats with a look of transformation
that dies when I come in the kitchen door.

All the things I was warned away from as a professional student of literature—not to confuse the poet with the speaker, not to get mired in biography, not to be fooled by the cheap lure of identification—went out the window as this possession overcame us. We were three silent women, moving through the pages of books and years. Carson peered into Brontë’s poems as I peered into her own poem, looking for—something.

It was never clear what Emily herself was looking for. Such is the mystery of her strange life and her strange work. In her 1850 preface to Wuthering Heights, Emily’s sister Charlotte writes with the awed fascination of a villager peering into the darkness of an anchorite’s cell. Emily, in Carson’s quotation of the preface, “was not a person of demonstrative character.” Indeed, even “those nearest and dearest to her” could not “with impunity, intrude unlicensed” into the recesses of her mind. Even Charlotte expresses a fearful respect for the secrecy of those alarming “recesses”: the deep, secret self that her sister guarded so sternly. Emily is always one more locked door away from both those who loved her in life and those who love her work. To get closest to her work is to accept that you will never see to the bottom of those recesses. Charlotte recognizes this, and Carson does too.

luck was always
trying to plumb my depths, in a manner I found both sweet and offensive. He always wanted more and wouldn’t believe me when I said I’d told him everything. When eventually he saw that I really had given him everything I knew about myself, he found the offering wanting. A few weeks into our relationship, I began to experience the well-intentioned ferocity of his desire to understand me better than I understood myself. He wasn’t really a drinker, but he poured us both a scotch and alternatingly interrogated and flirted with me. I was attracted and confused. Here was someone who wanted to know more about me, but his playful manner of asking very serious questions made his desire seem like part of a game. Did he really want to see me, or did he simply want to be allowed to see something, to be granted the pleasure of mere access?

The idea of seeing, really seeing, was more important to him than it was to anyone I’d ever known. On our second or third date, he casually told me that he was face-blind—a condition I’d never heard of. He was, as he said, “bad at faces.” This was a self-deprecating understatement. Over the next few weeks, he told me more about his particular condition. It would take him, he estimated, twenty or thirty meetings with someone to be able to recognize that person’s face. If I put my hair up or let it down, took my glasses off or put them on, he suddenly saw me as a stranger. This explained, I thought, the way he’d pause and examine my face every time we met, a smile playing around his lips, looking for the person he was coming to know. The longer we were together, the more his face-blindness confused me: How much did he recognize me? How much did it matter if he didn’t or couldn’t ever? I came to terms with this, telling myself that at the very least, I would always know if he found me attractive. My fear was that one day, out of the blue, he wouldn’t. It worried me—and in some way I’ll never understand, I’m sure it worried him too.

Thinking about him now, I have to stop myself from narrative reduction, the cruelest thing I could do to a person I still care about. Luck is not just a character in my story; he has his own. It’s too easy to draw a neat, simplistic parallel: Luck felt he never really recognized me emotionally because his brain actually couldn’t recognize me physically. That’s not it, though. Looking back, I begin to understand that he was also peering into me in the hope that he would find a mirror that could show him his truest self, that would instructively reveal what he looked like in love. I don’t say this with resentment but rather with what remains of love. I wonder how many relationships between mindfully, often proudly, self-reflective people are like this—how often do we look into our partners in order to see ourselves more clearly? Another kind of compulsive rereading, you might say. To look into the person you’re with over and over again, telling yourself that you’re trying to comprehend them more fully, can simply be a means of understanding your own reading self. This self that reads other people is not exactly the same as the self that might read a poem—but it is not entirely different. It took me a long time to realize that I did not want to be a mirror to reflect Luck or a text to enable his readings. I grew tired of being peered at and tired of trying to see through the thick, impenetrable glass of his own surface.

the metaphor is so obvious
I barely need to articulate it. Luck peered into me to see himself, then I peered into Carson to see myself, as she peered into Brontë in turn—a nested series of readings and rereadings in the search for newer, deeper meanings. I didn’t realize I was doing it at the time; my immersion in Carson’s poem was so total that I couldn’t take even a step back. I only started to perceive these twinned phenomena somewhere around week three of the Carson regimen.

For Carson, the intense peering activates a powerful, frightening mode of self-reflection, wherein she seems to see right through the illusory exterior of emotion into somewhere more profound and, eventually, more generative. She supplements her reading with periods of rhapsodic meditation, in which a series of twelve female “Nudes” appears to her, visions that she understands to be “a nude glimpse of [her] lone soul, / not the complex mysteries of love and hate.” The Nudes are primitively symbolic, tarot-like, their imagery at once hotly interior and coldly objectified. They are violent: a woman’s body in agony, flesh ripped away, or pierced by thorns, or stitched by a giant silver needle. They infiltrate me as profoundly as the poem’s images of passion. They summon up familiar visions I’d long held at bay: flashbacks to fantasies of my body rendered down, sliced or melted away, accompanied by the familiar scent of self-harm’s alchemical compound of desire and terror.

The poem hurt me and made me think about the nature of that pain after I’d felt it over and over again.

Here, though, my identification with Carson begins to unravel and lift away. The instant that I’ve followed her into the madness of these barest visions of her inner self and my own, she turns back to Brontë’s complex visions, which seem at once to face inward and outward, a mobile vantage from which she does not peer but rather radiates. In Emily’s poetry (Carson writes), she “had a relationship…with someone she calls Thou,” who may be God or Death, or something undefined. Emily, in her apparent isolation, seems to have had a clearer understanding than I of how to relate to the other, even if her other is a force, not a person. It seems strange to turn for advice on love to Emily Brontë, a woman who was “unable to meet the eyes of strangers when she ventured out,” and according to her biographers led a “sad, stunted life…Uninteresting, unremarkable, wracked by disappointment / and despair.” Yet it is through Brontë that Carson—and through Carson, I—begin to really ask the fundamental questions: How are we to look at the loved one, and how are we to look at ourselves? Weird Emily, communing intermittently with Thou, might offer some kind of better answer than what I’d gleaned from human relationships for how to be held closely yet at a distance, in some state of perpetual transit between the “inside outside” and the “outside inside.” “Thou and Emily influence one another in the darkness,” writes Carson, “playing near and far at once.” Something about this seeming paradox of location, near and far, inside and outside, and the way that Emily flits between the two, seems to hold some promise of escaping the mere self. Her word for this is “whaching”:

Emily’s habitual spelling of this word,
has caused confusion.

Whacher is what she was.
She whached God and humans and moor wind and open night.
She whached eyes, stars, inside, outside, actual weather.

She whached the bars of time, which broke.
She whached the poor core of the world,
wide open.

Whaching is not simply watching; while she whached things we can all observe, like “humans” and “actual weather,” she also whached those things that cannot be seen or known, like “God” and “the poor core of the world.” Whaching somehow allows her to be at once inside and outside of herself; by whaching, Emily breaks “the bars of time” and seems to exist outside its prison. Somehow, whaching is less an action than a state of being:

To be a Whacher is not a choice.
There is nowhere to get away from it…

To be a Whacher is not in itself sad or happy.

To whach, it seems, is a calling. If Emily is a Whacher, then so too is Carson by the end of the poem—but only after she stops trying so hard to watch, to “peer and glance,” seeking symbolic meaning or resolution, seeking to solve the problem of herself with and without Law. After the period of rereading Brontë, staring into herself, and seeing the Nudes, the whole thing simply stops:

I stopped watching.
I forgot about Nudes.
I lived my life,

which felt like a switched-off TV.
Something had gone through me and out and I could not own it.

At first, this moment feels deflating, emptied of the exhilaration of what she earlier calls her “spiritual melodrama” and intense feeling. But then something amazing happens. When the speaker, and the reader, least expect it, the poem ends with a final vision, a thirteenth Nude. Though it resembles the first Nude—the woman standing naked and bloody on a hill, strips of flesh flayed by the wind—this figure is not in pain. It stands, neutral and unflinching,

…a human body

trying to stand against winds so terrible that the flesh was blowing off the bones.
And there was no pain.
The wind

was cleansing the bones.
They stood forth silver and necessary.
It was not my body, not a woman’s body, it was the body of us all.
It walked out of the light.

This Nude is not flesh, but bone: shining, bright bone, “silver and necessary,” somehow stripped of individual identity but not of communal feeling. This Nude, I think, is somewhere between “I” and “Thou,” between body and what we might call spirit, at once physical and mystical, “the body of us all.”

On one of the late Carson days, maybe Tuesday or Wednesday of the fourth week, this moment gave me a new shock. I did not know what it meant; I think I still do not understand it. But it led me to consider my own spiritual melodrama, and my ways of peering and rereading. All that bloody revealing, that squinting and seeking, hadn’t gotten down to the bones of the situation. It didn’t open up the poor core of my world or any other; it only abandoned me in the foggy region between past and present, my vision clouded by layers of feeling. Suddenly, these methods of reading were clearly insufficient. I was not whaching right, and I knew it. But I was learning.

Learning to whach meant getting both closer and farther away from my deep identification with the poem’s speaker. It meant realizing that my reflection was not the thing to look for, despite the shining surfaces of the poem. The closer I got to the poem as a whole, the farther I got from myself; the farther I got from the self, the more clearly could I see it. The poem hurt me and made me think about the nature of that pain after I’d felt it over and over again. It taught me a lesson in how to slip, like Emily, outside the prison of the self-in-time to see that self from the inside and the outside simultaneously. To whach.

Thinking of what it means to whach, I wonder if it is some form of the discipline I was trained in, which scholars call criticism, and which I am tempted now just to call “reading.” Perhaps not reading as it is usually performed by so-called professional readers (critics, teachers, writers), but reading as it might be wholly integrated into lived experience. “The Glass Essay” is not just a breakup poem that demands to be read as a critical essay, or a critical essay that demands to be read as a breakup poem; it is somehow neither and both of these at once. Carson learns to whach from Brontë, and in so doing, learns finally to whach herself. A critical stance, the poem suggests, is needed to read and reread the most intimate feelings in ourselves and in others. This kind of reading is the necessary approach to personal experience, an imperative that demands a reinvention, or perhaps a radically earnest reaffirmation, of criticism’s scholarly intent.

I read “The Glass Essay” differently now. In that month of rereading, I was peering so intently at it for my own reflection, trying to scry my own feelings, the resolution of my own sadness. But now that those feelings are gone, I can look at the poem and the breakup through the transparent pane of that old reading, which both keeps me outside that old reading self and lets me see her from the inside, clearly. I can see her, and the poem, and the loss of Luck more lucidly than before because I am not looking for anything anymore. I am not looking for myself in Carson’s reading of Brontë, or in Carson’s Nudes, or in Carson’s breakup story. I stand outside it now, whaching, but no longer reflected, no longer reflecting.

Sarah Chihaya is the author of The Ferrante Letters: An Experiment in Collective Criticism (with Merve Emre, Katherine Hill, and Jill Richards) and Bibliophobia. She is a senior editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books.
Originally published:
June 1, 2022


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