January 01, 2020

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May 15, 2018

There is a truth we never talk about when we talk about monogamous love: The only person who might be able to understand the specifics of your current relationship is your partner’s ex. Or, indeed, their exes. I realized the only people who could understand the specifics of what we were arguing about — and how we were approaching the contradictions and complexities — were those who had been exactly where I was.

March 23, 2018

August 8, 1982. It was nearly five in the morning when my uncle Kavoos woke up my six-year-old cousin Laleh to say goodbye.

January 11, 2018

And so it goes with revolution. The start is lofty, chaotic, and idealistic, while the aftermath is often a painful and difficult disappointment. Nonetheless, people do revolt. And, I believe, there are times they should.

October 26, 2017

Trump is no Khomeini. But destroying the old order at all costs is often a mistake.

March 24, 2017

For comfort—and as a safe and effective (sometimes) sleep aid—she turns to books about wanderers, Harry Potter, and reading over people’s shoulders. Read along as she tries, and mostly succeeds, to avoid Twitter.

January 19, 2017

This transformative power of reading is the central theme that runs through Will Schwalbe’s new book “Books for Living,” which examines 26 titles and the lessons they can teach us.

December 14, 2016

America, we’re told, is suffering from a lack of empathy. In many of his speeches, President Obama has traced our social divisions back to “the biggest deficit we have … an empathy deficit.” But a new book, “Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion,” by Yale psychologist Paul Bloom, claims this isn’t true at all.

September 23, 2016

Our emotions can reveal what we value most, and we can then act on those values to evolve into our best selves — resilient, stable, curious, courageous, compassionate and empathetic, says Harvard Medical School professor and psychologist Susan David.

January 11, 2016

In 1979, Iranians living abroad, Neda Semnani’s parents among them, rushed back to Tehran to enjoy the fruits of the Islamic Revolution—only to find Khomeini an even more repressive leader than the Shah. Nursing a young family, Semnani’s mother gave up politics, detaching herself from the increasingly dangerous underground leftist opposition network. 

January 14, 2016

Among DC’s political-strategy community, GOP division, everyone can agree on a couple of things. First, no one has any idea which candidate will emerge as the nominee from the populist free-for-all. “It’s closer to Dancing With the Stars than the Nixon-Kennedy debates,” says Erick Mullen, managing director in the DC office of the consulting firm Mercury. “Everybody inside the Beltway is being cowed by it.”

October 16, 2015

On January 25, 1983, at about nine o’clock in the evening, my father and twenty-one of his friends were led onto a snowy soccer pitch in Amol, a small town by the Caspian Sea. There, the Iranian government executed them by firing squad following a three-week trial, which was held in Tehran’s Evin prison, several hours to the south. 

August 04, 2015

A first is crucial. It begins the story. Think of the first sentence you ever read. The one that led to the second. Think of your first friend, the one who brought you closer to your best friend. Or your first person, the one who leapt with you, eyes squeezed shut, into the terrifying abyss that is first love, but not great love. Think of the first bite that teased, but didn’t satisfy. The only thing firsts do is signal potential and stoke anticipation. They don’t fulfill a promise; they are the promise itself. 

May 01, 2015

Chester Himes: Race and Rage, The Life Sentence

America is not a peaceful nation. It never has been. We are, after all, a country born of revolution and slavery. Racism and violence are integral to our nature. So, hundreds of years after we began, news stories featuring our twin demons should feel like old hat. It is to our collective credit, therefore, that we are not numb to it. Indeed, America’s race problem has been the major story of the past two years.

February 05, 2015

Linda’s slow transition from bishop’s wife to amateur investigator could be used to great effect to make the reader root for the underdog protagonist. Instead, pages and pages of the novel, which could have been used for character development, are given over to exposition. 

February 11, 2015

The Paris of my daydreams was peopled by a glamorous set of brooding intellectuals and brilliant raconteurs; it was a town for the sharp-tongued and quick-witted. The place oozed artistry. Every restaurant served sumptuous meals; every person exuded elegance. America was born dreaming of Paris.

February 24, 2015

I understand love like I understand French, which is to say very little and mostly through translation. With respect to Raymond Carver, I don't understand what people talk about when they talk about love.​

March 11, 2015

The guards and the guns are supposed to bring some comfort and a sense of safety to the students, journalists, and neighbors, while warning off terrorists. But the guards make me increasingly uncomfortable. I think this may be because many people in Paris don't automatically accept that I am an American just because I say I am.

March 25, 2015

I am waiting too. But I'm not sure for what. I tell myself not to have any expectations. Though I realize I do. I expect to remain apart from it all. I expect to be bemused. I expect to be mildly disappointed.

April 09, 2015

Dark Days in the City of Light, Part 5, The Week

In place of the sun had come rain. Rain and rain for days. It spit in my eye, rolled down my neck, and poured in through a small hole on the sole of my boot. With the rain came relentless gray. Dark clouds smothered the city whole. In the time between showers and storms, the clouds raced back and forth, chasing each other across the sky. 

April 22, 2015

The Kick of Rejection, Part 6, The Week

For a writer rejection is as certain as death. For those who reach and push and strive and aspire to achieve something big, it is the only thing to be certain of. It is the most predictable thing in the world. This is the job. I must be mad to want it so badly.

May 07, 2015

It has been nearly a week since I left Paris. The city has already started to fade. My work has begun to stiffen. Words are coming just one at — a — long pause — time, instead of all in a rush.

November 19, 2015

The Paris of Our Dreams, Epilogue, The Week

When an iconic place is terrorized, the resulting trauma transcends borders, both physical and psychic. Last Friday, after a series of coordinated attacks in Paris left so many dead and hurt, I was thousands of miles away. I cried out when I heard the news. Partly because this was tragic in and of itself. But partly because it was Paris — my Paris, our Paris.

November 14, 2014

The Apotheosis of Envy, LA Review of Books

I devoured Keigo Higashino’s novel Malice. I read it in one sitting, curled up on my couch with my knees tucked under a blanket. As Higashino peeled back the mystery, I felt deliciously uneasy. Somewhere halfway through the novel, however, the opening from Kathryn Chetkovich’s great 2003 essay “Envy,” started to scroll through my mind. That essay opens, “This is a story of two writers. A story, in other words, of envy.” 

July 06, 2013

In southeastern Quebec, there is an enormous dark sky reserve, which was the first of its kind when it was created in 2007. The reserve is spread over a small section of the Appalachian range where Mount Megantic stretches up into the sky.

May 30, 2013

Theater Review: “Clementine in the Lower 9” at Forum Theatre, The Washingtonian

True catharsis is the purification that comes at the end of a disastrous blaze—or in the case of Clementine in the Lower 9, it’s the moment of truth that comes in the months after the flood waters have receded through the cracks of the broken levees.

May 11, 2013

It had been a long winter of epic storms. Spring was coming. It was that sweet time in D.C. when the trees erupt in an annual pink-blossomed explosion. But I was inside strong-arming my mother, bullying her to put on a dress and take a drive with her brother and sister.

April 30, 2013

Journalism is one of the few jobs Hollywood has always let women do. Since the start of the talkies all the way through today, "female journalist" has been a classic archetype in film and television. But whereas being a female reporter was once synonymous with tenacity, superior intellect, and wit, today's fictional female reporter serves as shorthand for new media reporter/blogger: young, naïve, and morally bankrupt.

April 22, 2013

Just down the way from the Boston Marathon's finish line, not far from where two improvised explosive devices killed three people and injured more then 170, journalist and documentarian Sebastian Junger was getting ready to screen his new HBO documentary Which Way is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington. 

March 06, 2013

The lonely and the randy around Washington are using the "sequester" as an excuse to have sex, extramarital affairs, volunteer their uterus to incubate other people's babies, and to generally stretch the boundaries of their sexual experience.

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