Bougainvillea beneath the Koʻolau bright paper leaves hearts and thorns a childhood in Sàigon pressed in memory

The Way of the Tail

“The Circular Ruin,” Borges. The Universe in a Single Atom, Dalai Lama. The Woman Destroyed, Simone De Beauvoir. Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino. The Plague, Albert Camus. The Lover, Marguerite Duras. Sophie’s World, Jostein Gaarder. Humble Before the Void, Chris Impey. Middle Passage, Charles Johnson. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera. Dao De Jing, Laozi. “Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight,” Ursula […]

All the Pretty Horses

In the first volume of Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy, 16-year-old John Grady Cole set off for Mexico with his friend Rawlins. At a riverside, a younger boy, Blevins, riding a beautiful, presumably stolen horse, joined them. When Rawlins asked, “What the hell would we want you with us for?” Blevins answered, “Cause I’m an American,” […]

Is All Unreal?

Jorge Luis Borges describes “The Circular Ruins,” published in The Garden of Forking Paths in 1941, as a tale of fantasy.  He writes, “In ‘The Circular Ruins,’ all is unreal.” A mere five-page story, “The Circular Ruins” raises questions on the nature of reality, knowledge, time, and the self. How does the unreal—thematically and stylistically—throw […]

What Is Literature?

Literature is a mode of playing with reality in which pleasure is derived from imaginary engagement that organizes, constructs, and represents our physical and mental experiences in an artistic manner. It is imaginary play that draws participants into the realm of “what if,” engaging the players (i.e., creator, performer, audience) emotionally and intellectually. Literature as […]