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Porochista Khakpour

Porochista Khakpour is the author of the memoir Sick (HarperPerennial, forthcoming 2018), as well as the novels The Last Illusion (Bloomsbury, 2014) and Sons and Other Flammable Objects (Grove, 2007). Her writing has appeared in Harper’s, Bookforum, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Slate, Salon, Spin, Elle, and many other publications.

Author

Ackerphilia [private]

Fall 2017 | Criticism

By the time Kathy Acker died, in the autumn of 1997, I was nineteen and fully under her spell, having discovered her just a few years before. Her work brought me to all sorts of feelings—lust, rage, shame, guilt, rebellion, liberation, ecstasy, transgression, indulgence. If you were the type of nineties kid I was, piercings and tattoos and all kinds of body modifications interested you, and so her look—buzz-cut bleached blonde in a leather jacket with smeared red lipstick and smudged black eyeliner, with all sorts of visible ink and metal—appealed as well. She looked like a rock star and even now I think she was the only one the literary world ever really got. At one point, a wealthy Manhattan artist I briefly fell in love with gifted me one of her original proofs for The Adult Life of Toulouse Lautrec, which I keep next to my bed at all times. It feels lucky somehow.


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<i>Calling a Wolf a Wolf</i>. By Kaveh Akbar. Alice James, 2017. 100p. PB, $16.95.

Toward a New Masculinity

Summer 2017 | Criticism

   “Women have their faults, men have only two: everything they say, everything they do,” goes an old adage I remember fellow feminists wisecracking for most of my life. I was born in the seventies and am a nineties feminist. In my [...]

<i>Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life</i>. By Yiyun Li. Random House, 2017. 224p. HB, $27.

Unsettled

Spring 2017 | Criticism

In 2011, the writer Yiyun Li and I were both asked to judge a fiction contest for the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. I panicked, that certain swoon-panic of the fellow author who is a fan, at her name next to mine. I was enamored of all her abilities, from mechanical to aesthetic—a certain gelid elegance, sharpness in syntax and diction, fluidity of theme in dark and light with such self-possessed strokes. And I—in my head and sometimes truly with my pen, an impulsive maximalist-stylist, always straddling rough and rougher—studied her register but found it impossible to emulate. So when we judged that contest together, I tried to calmly and coolly interact with her without a stutter. We both had agreed on the same winner almost instantly. I completely agree with you, Porochista. It’s my favorite too, so let’s go ahead with it? she wrote, words I held on to for months. Eventually I realized we had even more in common than I dared suspect: her East Asian immigrant to my West Asian immigrant, English as a second language, nuclear physicist fathers, and California as home.

Illustration by Raquel Aparicio

My Life in the New Age

Summer 2015 | Memoir

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked ••• angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connectionto the starry dynamo in the machinery of night . . .” —Allen Ginsberg, “Howl, [...]