Jessica Olin

Jessica Olin lives in Massachusetts. She has no children.

Who would you have been? No Kids!

Jessica Olin, 27 August 2015

Many of​ the contributors to Meghan Daum’s new anthology once thought they’d have children. For some, it seemed ‘an interesting future possibility’, like ‘joining the Peace Corps’. Rosemary Mahoney ‘used to imagine what my children would look like, and those pleasant imaginings made me love them so much that when I finally snapped to I would...

In September 2005, the New York Times published an article about female students at elite colleges who saw futures for themselves as ‘stay-at-home moms’. The author, Louise Story, had conducted a study at Yale in which many of those interviewed said that when they had children, they planned to cut back on work or stop working altogether. While administrators seemed alarmed by the...

‘This book will save your life’: it’s a bold claim. In A.M. Homes’s new novel, Richard Novak has systematically removed himself from the world of human relationships. In the wake of a failed marriage, he moved to Los Angeles and set up a perfectly ordered existence. He stopped going to work years ago; instead, each morning he checks the market while exercising on his...

Depictions of the American teenager are not exactly scarce. Over the last few years we’ve seen queen bees, mean girls, freaks, geeks and dorks of all kinds. What we have not seen is someone like Lee Fiora, the reluctant heroine of Curtis Sittenfeld’s first novel, Prep, which is a thoughtful, measured account of life at a top East Coast boarding-school. In a field dominated by...

Out of Sorts: Jhumpa Lahiri

Jessica Olin, 4 March 2004

Jhumpa Lahiri’s first book, Interpreter of Maladies (2000), was a collection of spare short stories, whose characters, many of them Indian, exist in a sort of permanent exile, living in America but never fully belonging to it. In her sprawling first novel, The Namesake, she revisits this territory and attempts to move beyond it.

The book opens onto a dingy domestic scene: Ashima...

In ‘How to Become a Publicist’, the liveliest story in Jessica Francis Kane’s first collection, Bending Heaven, a young woman moves to Manhattan to pursue a career in publishing, and as part of a family tradition: ‘All the women on my mother’s side have come to New York, lived, burned out, and eventually left.’ She falls into the enthusiastic world of...

Joseph Torra’s latest novel, The Bystander’s Scrapbook, opens in 1984, the year Ronald Reagan was re-elected President. In Somerville, Massachusetts, as in the rest of the country, corporate growth and gentrification are changing the face of neighbourhoods that once boasted a mix of ethnic traditions: a tenement that housed Hispanic families is overhauled and made into condos for...

Shivering Eyeballs: Mary Karr

Jessica Olin, 1 November 2001

‘I am not very successful as a little girl,’ Mary Karr wrote in her diary when she was 11. ‘When I grow up, I will probably be a mess.’ This is how Cherry, the second instalment in her account of her early life, begins. The first, The Liars’ Club, was published in 1995. Now it is the summer before she enters sixth grade; she has no friends, her parents are out at...

Amazing Sushi: Nani Power

Jessica Olin, 23 August 2001

In Nani Power’s novel Crawling at Night, Katsuyuki Ito has only been in New York, his new home, for a few months. On the surface, his life in the United States is exactly the same as it was in Japan; as a shokunin, or sushi chef, he performs a strict series of daily tasks. For 42 years, his day has begun before dawn, as he picks out the best cuts of tuna and flatfish at the market and...

Red Sneakers: Karen Bender

Jessica Olin, 14 December 2000

When we first meet Lena Rose, the ‘mildly retarded’ heroine and whirlwind centre of Karen Bender’s novel, it is her wedding anniversary, and she has set fire to her room at the residential home known optimistically as Panorama Village. Lena’s mother, Ella, has been summoned to deal with the situation and plead Lena’s case to Mrs Lowenstein, the home’s...

From The Blog
20 October 2009

Until last week, American fans of 30 Rock, the behind-the-scenes-of-a-TV-comedy-show sitcom, had to make do in 2009 with Tina Fey taking her creamy décolletage on David Letterman and announcing that she was a virgin until the age of 24; a short-lived, thrilling rumour that Alec Baldwin was going to try to steal Joe Lieberman’s Senate seat; and the antics of RealTracyMorgan, who set fire to his Trump Place apartment via a blown-out light in his fish tank and whose Twitter feed started out promisingly enough (‘My dick is so fat it looks like r2d2’) before devolving into work complaints and self-props like everyone else’s.

From The Blog
8 October 2009

Alexander McQueen’s futuristic Spring 2010 show in Paris, entitled ‘Plato’s Atlantis’, featured alien-princess hairdos, exquisite digital-snakeskin party frocks, and 10-inch jewel-encrusted lobster-claw ‘shoes’ resembling nothing so much as Wikus’s mangled arm from District 9. It’s always fun to see fashion editors scrambling for words like 'antediluvian', but according to a press release, there’s a cyclical-ecological view at work here: McQueen is concerned about the dissolving polar ice cap and worries that we’re heading back to an underwater future.

From The Blog
25 November 2009

For the 30th anniversary gala of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art on 14 November, Francesco Vezzoli’s Ballets Russes Italian Style (The Shortest Musical You Will Never See Again) featured a performance by Lady Gaga that defied parody. Wearing a hat designed by Frank Gehry and a mask designed by Baz Luhrmann, Gaga played on a rotating Pepto-Bismol-pink Steinway grand piano decorated with blue butterflies painted by Damien Hirst while Prada-clad dancers from the Bolshoi Ballet pliéd around her. In other words, an average Saturday night. Everyone’s a little Gaga these days.

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