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Jeff Sharlet

Jeff Sharlet is an associate professor of creative writing at Dartmouth College and a VQR Editor at Large. He is the author or editor of six books, including The Family (Harper Perennial, 2009), Sweet Heaven When I Die (Norton, 2011), and, most recently, Radiant Truths (Yale, 2014).


Photo by Jeff Sharlet


Summer 2017 | Essays

For two years I’ve been walking into the tall grass to take snapshots of this field at the top of the “crooked mile,” a winding hill that leads into the shallow valley of swamp and stream in which my house stands, just past the sign that reads pavement ends. I use my phone. I want the rough eye. The note. The diary. The record. The document. This time, this moment, unplanned.

Photograph by Jeff Sharlet

Not Even My Own

Spring 2017 | Essays

I thought they were wild but I’m told irises rarely are. Planted; invasive; European, mostly, or Asian. But there are natives, too. These, with their ribbed yellow tongues, resemble an iris called the wild flag, which grows from Nova Scotia to Sitka. How might it have come to this small valley? First a bulb, then a garden, then flowers, planted; now flowers, wild. Escapees or refugees, invaders or simply the left behind.

Photographs by Jeff Sharlet


Spring 2016 | Essays

1.“They say the Bataclan was the first attack on music,” says Bart, “but ’twas not. ’Twas the Miami Showband.” Bart’s come to help me set up a projector at Trinity College, where I’m to talk today about Instagram. We project one of my [...]

Belafonte with Ed Sullivan, mid-1950s. (Everett Collection)

Voice and Hammer

Fall 2013 | Profiles

Once, more than half a century ago, he was the handsomest man in the world. A radiant man. It was a matter of bearing, of voice and gesture and timing. He had that high, buttery baritone, nothing special really, except, he says, “I knew how to use it.”

Behind ​the ​Beautiful Forevers. By Katherine Boo. Random House, 2012. 288p. HB, $27.

Like a Novel: The Marketing of Literary Nonfiction

Summer 2013 | Criticism

Offered up by blurbers with the best of intentions, the immediacy implicit in the description like a novel suggests that the book on hand can be engaged with as art rather than as fact, so realist it’s not real; a story rather than the state of things, a condition in which we might be complicit. 

Like a Novel

April 11, 2013 | Criticism

I recently read KatherineBoo’s 2012 National Book Award–winning portrait of a Mumbai slum, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, with my students in a creative nonfiction class at Dartmouth College. Boo spent a little more than three years in the slum [...]


A Harry Belafonte Playlist

October 8, 2013 | Multimedia

I like stories that allow me to linger, to circle back, to return to a set of words, an image, a song I can’t get out of my mind. In writing “Voice and Hammer,” it was the 1959 broadcast of Tonight With Belafonte, and the chain-gang songs with which Belafonte declared himself more than just the “King of Calypso.”