An Attempt to See Paris Through the Eyes of Georges Perec

Reflections on the infra-ordinary.
Literary Hub Link to Story

Searching for Souvenirs at Dollywood

Souvenirs are, in many ways, generic, particularly the mass-produced variety you buy at a theme park, as opposed to a seashell you might bring home from a trip to the beach. But, like Dolly herself, souvenirs can embody contradictions. If they are seemingly impersonal, they can also be personal. They can be material memories. There is something talismanic about them. And something ineffable, as if they might have powers that language does not. Once you’re home, a souvenir might be the only thing that remains from your trip, a reminder of the irrecoverable. Souvenirs try to transform an experience into an object.
Racked National Link to Story

Going Through Blanche DuBois’s Luggage

There is no piece of luggage quite like Blanche DuBois’s trunk in A Streetcar Named Desire. This object contains the life, or the life traces, of one of Tennessee Williams’s most enduring characters. Actors love Blanche for the same reason that they love Hamlet: she is an actor, and she understands what actors understand—that artifice is not the opposite of truth but a means of achieving it.
The Paris Review Link to Story

How to Read Caves

When I was a kid, I went on a class trip to Moaning Cavern in the Gold Country of California. Moaning Cavern. The name was horrifying: the sense that this place moaned, that it had a voice. We had to walk down into the earth, down a metal spiral staircase that was enclosed like a cage, and I was sure that the stairs would collapse, and I would fall, just like Alice in the rabbit hole, her pale blue skirt billowing out into a parachute, into nothing.
Literary Hub Link to Story

The End-of-Summer Joy of Reading by a Motel Pool

They’re about spending time with strangers in a place everyone is passing through. This is particularly true if you travel alone, as I usually do. There is a calm to being around strangers.
Literary Hub Link to Story

Reasons That Your Faculty Retreat Is Not Actually a Retreat

It does not involve hot yoga or cold yoga or any temperature of yoga.
Avidly Link to Story

The Bittersweet Feeling of Reconnecting with a Forgotten Language

When I arrived at the Gare du Nord from Charles de Gaulle last January, it was early in the morning, and I had to pee desperately, but I didn’t have any money for the bathroom, so a woman paid for me. I think I must have looked miserable when I encountered the bathroom attendant. The woman smiled and took her wallet out of her purse and dropped a coin in the dish. I said Merci and smiled back. And then she left.
Literary Hub Link to Story

Lady Catherine de Bourgh Tells You How To Pack For Your Summer Vacation

Your gowns are not well packed. I have been looking them over, and they are not well packed.
Avidly Link to Story

Meditations on My Front Porch

My front porch is my favorite room in my house. I suppose it’s not really a room.
Columbia College Today Link to Story

The dish store that is my home away from home

Curbed National Link to Story

Front Porch

Once I—with someone else (because you need someone else for such a thing)—once I transformed my front porch into a boat.
The Rambling Link to Story

January in the Jardin de Luxembourg

Today the gardens are made of four colors: the white-gray of the sky and the statues, the black of the branches, the green of the grass and chairs and benches, and the tan of the gravel paths. These should be four distinct colors, yet only the green stands out. The others are just versions of the same color, an ancient neutral, the color of nothing.
The Common Link to Story



Susan Harlan is a writer based in Winston-Salem, NC, who is particularly interested in the relationship between place, memory, and objects. Her essays have appeared in publications including The Guardian US, The Paris Review Daily, Guernica, Roads & Kingdoms, The Morning News, The Awl, Curbed, Racked, Atlas Obscura, The Common, The Toast, Nowhere, Literary Hub, The Bitter Southerner, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The Brooklyn Quarterly, Avidly, and Public Books. She also writes about feminist issues for venues such as Jezebel, Literary Mothers, The Feminist Wire, DAME, Skirt!, The Hairpin, The Establishment, Queen Mob's Tea House, The Belladonna, The South Carolina Review, and The Manifest-Station. She holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from New York University and an M.A. in English Renaissance theater history from King’s College London and teaches English at Wake Forest University. Her book Luggage was published in the Bloomsbury series Object Lessons in March 2018. Her book Decorating a Room of One's Own, a satirical mash-up of home design reportage and literary homes based on her column for The Toast, was published by Abrams in October 2018.

She is represented by Jim McCarthy of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret Literary Management.

Photo credit Sarah Torretta Klock.



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