Author Archives: Summer Block

Summer Block

Summer Block is an assistant editor at Identity Theory and is a freelance writer currently living in China. Visit her at or email summer (at) identitytheory (dot) com.

Grief Lessons: Four Plays by Euripides

I’m currently reading Grief Lessons: Four Plays by Euripides, translated by Anne Carson, and thinking about theater and playwriting.

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Memoirs of My Nervous Illness and Recommended V-Day Reading

I just finished Daniel Schreber’s Memoirs of My Nervous Illness and now I’m finishing up My Mistress’ Sparrow is Dead, a love story anthology edited by Jeffrey Eugenides (in time for Valentine’s Day).

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"Months and Seasons" by Christopher Meeks

Christopher Meeks’ new short story collection, Months and Seasons, has become a sort of grassroots movement, a favorite of small press reviewers, bloggers, and veteran Amazon junkies. The slim volume of thirteen stories (plus an excerpt from his upcoming novel as a “bonus track”) is uneven, sometimes awkward, but redeemed again and again by the […]

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Natasha’s Dance

I just started Orlando Figes’ excellent Natasha’s Dance: The Cultural History of Russia

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Empress by Shan Sa

As the sole woman to occupy a throne at the meeting point of heaven and earth, this extraordinary personage is perhaps a perfect fit for Shan’s grandiose writing style.

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The Week You Weren’t Here by Charles Blackstone

I read The Week You Weren’t Here while getting my nails done. I read it on the taxi ride home, glancing down at the page through patches of streetlight. I read it over dinner until my boyfriend asked me whether the book was good and I had no idea what to say.

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Fernanda Eberstadt

Though Little Money Street is obviously affectionate, Eberstadt does not deny that Gypsy society is marked by widespread illiteracy, poverty, and startling sexual inequalities.

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Rituals of Mourning

I just finished reading Joan Didion’s memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking. In 2003, Didion’s daughter fell suddenly ill with pneumonia, leading to septic shock that was eventually fatal. On December 23 of the same year, Didion’s husband of forty years died suddenly of a heart attack. The situation described above, while doubtless tragic, would […]

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Third Lesson

I don’t have any important memories. I have a bunch of stupid memories.

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Books on Books

The Anxiety of Influence, Harold BloomAxel’s Castle: A Study of the Imaginative Literature of 1870-1930, Edmund WilsonThe Wound and the Bow: Seven Studies in Literature, Edmund WilsonI’ve been taking a break from primary sources to enjoy three excellent books on books.The first is Harold Bloom’s seminal Anxiety of Influence, by the blustery, brilliant, highly opinionated […]

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Getting an early jump on Halloween, I decided to read Chuck Palahniuk’s infamous new novel, Haunted, in which writers trapped at an isolated retreat tell their dark and horrific stories, all the while sabotaging their own rescue in hopes of creating a story dramatic enough to get them books and made-for-TV movies about the ordeal. […]

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The Crusades

I just finished reading two books for a review – The First Crusade: A New History, by Thomas Asbridge; and The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople, by Jonathan Phillips. I highly recommend both – and in fact, I recommend reading both back-to-back.The First Crusade was, from the point of view of the Christian […]

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Life: A User’s Manual, by Georges Perec

I’ve been reading Life: A User’s Manual – a valuable if somewhat overwhelming exercise, and one of the few times I’ve had to read with a pen and paper handy.Originally titled La Vie mode d’emploi, Perec’s weird little masterpiece is the product of Oulipo, the “potential literature” project founded by Raymond Queneau in the early […]

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