“Nothing touches a work of art so little as words of criticism: they always result in more or less fortunate misunderstandings. Most experiences happen in a space that no word has ever entered, and more unsayable than all other things are works of art.”
—Rainer Maria Rilke


Tom Jenks’s My Reading: James Baldwin’s "Sonny’s Blues,” published by Oxford University Press, comes out this summer on the 100th anniversary of Baldwin’s birth.
Jayne Anne Phillips’s brilliant Civil War novel won the 2024 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and first appeared in Narrative in a fiercely depicted battle excerpt titled “Sharpshooter.”
Susan Minot’s provocatively sensuous novel about a woman in thrall to erotic obsession and oblivion first appeared in Narrative in an excerpt titled “The Rooms.”


IN THE PAST HALF CENTURY, electronic media and a trend away from speech and recitation in the teaching of literature have resulted in student writers and readers who are too little aware of the sound of good writing. Years ago, much of culture was connected to the spoken word—by recitation at school, programs at oratorical societies, amateur theatricals, and reading aloud at home—but today all that has largely been lost. The writer’s task involves restoring the physicality of words to give them life.