A World Out of Reach by Meghan O’Rourke [6/10]

Living through a pandemic flattens the mind. Perspective seems impossible yet perspective is exactly what a writer’s mind demands. For that reason I’ve taken care over the last six months to read any Covid-19 journals/snippets, and in particular a few “in the thick of it” anthologies. Typically they have involved writers scribing what they experience or intuit, and I appreciate such efforts, but “A World Out of Reach: Dispatches from Life under Lockdown” offers not only writers/poets but also healthcare frontline professionals, social commentators, journalists, and even politicians. Released regularly in The Yale Review over March to June, it mixes the quotidian with the profound, to the benefit of both. I wept at Rachel Jamison Webster’s ode to her aunt, I ground my teeth during Black Lives Matters essays and one on a prison population, and I gasped at the immediacy and dread of hearing about doctors hunting for PPE. A World Out of Reach is not always comforting reading but it feels essential.

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