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Kristen Evans

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A freelance writer and literary critic, Kristen Evans has published work in the Los Angeles Times, The Believer, the LA Weekly, and other places. She tweets about books as @paperalphabet.
“I am, I am, I am,” reads one of the many tattoos Alana Massey uncovers after falling down a late-night Tumblr rabbit hole. The quote is from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, when Esther tries to commit suicide in the bath. And the skin in question belongs to a woman who frequents “the sadder corner of the women’s Internet,” as Massey puts it, an internet subculture that valorizes Plath and dissects the complicated pain...
Drive eight miles off Connecticut’s Route 202 into the Litchfield hills, follow hairpin turns past fields of award-winning pumpkins and sedate dairy cows, and you’ll reach Washington Depot, population 3,500 or so. It has a hardware store; a tiny, well-stocked food market; an independent bookstore that rivals any on the East Coast; and a smattering of civic offices, gift shops, and cafés. One of the most well-trafficked eateries is Marty’s, with its cheerful awning...
When Shirley Jackson’s story “The Lottery” appeared in the pages of The New Yorker in 1948, she baffled and horrified the magazine’s readers—many of whom thought the tale of villagers who participate in a ritual stoning might be based on reality. “Utterly pointless,” “gruesome,” and “nasty,” complained some of The New Yorker’s readers, who sent more than 300 letters altogether—more than The New Yorker had ever received about a piece of fiction. Unless you run...
Jenni Fagan knows what it’s like to be an outsider. It’s a trait she shares with many of her characters, including the heroine of her 2013 debut, The Panopticon. That novel follows the prickly Anais Hendricks as she maneuvers the foster care system in the UK, a childhood reality Fagan also weathered. When the book opens, Anais has just arrived at a juvenile delinquent center for putting a cop in a coma—a crime she...

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