Books

Archie’s Pal Jughead Is Asexual, According to New Comic

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Representation of the LGBT community has come a long way in the past decade or so, but one group that’s gone almost entirely unrepresented — in life, media, and the aforementioned acronym — is asexuals. Characters who outwardly identify as asexual are rarely seen in film, TV, literature, or comic books, and they’re rarely even mentioned outside of a joke. That’s about to change, though, in an upcoming issue of Jughead.
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Is the Critic a Parasite? On A. O. Scott’s ‘Better Living Through Criticism’

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“Our drive to create originates in — and compensates for — a primal feeling of alienation, of lostness in the universe and confusion about our identity,” New York Times film critic A. O. Scott writes in Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think About Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth. If the title here implies self-help (and it wouldn’t be the first such book inspired by Rilke’s final injunction in “Archaic Torso of Apollo”), the tone of the above suggests pop psychoanalysis. Scott goes on: “Frequently aligned with that sense of our original inadequacy is, somewhat paradoxically, a perception of our subsequent decline.”
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The Art of Ancient Love Poems

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In an attempt to appreciate the innocence of Valentine’s Day without the dreaded Hallmark sentiment, we’re looking back at several ancient love poems. The term “ancient” is applied loosely in some instances. But throughout the centuries, fragments of swoon-worthy, erotic lines from poets often unnamed have offered clues about some of the oldest literary examples from the ancient world. Here are some of the most compelling.
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Music, Memory, and Black Bodies: Kevin Young’s Brilliant Variations on the Blues

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“Blues are not poetry,” Langston Hughes wrote in 1927, ventriloquizing his critics among journalists of the time. He meant, it seems, the opposite, and he wasted no time straightening the record. “Those who have made a more thorough study of Negro folk verse than I and who are authorities in this field” — he’s referring, for one, to James Weldon Johnson — “say that many Blues are excellent poetry.”
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“So Be It! See to It!” Writers’ Inspiring Manifestos to Themselves

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This week, writers have been mesmerized by an unearthed piece of writing by beloved and brilliant novelist Octavia Butler, on display from the Huntington Library. This scrawled notebook page is a manifesto in the truest sense of the word, in that it predated much of the reality Butler ended up making manifest — concluding  with the refrain “So be it! See to it!” and including the exhortation, “I will find the way to do this.”
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‘Was She Pretty?’: An Excerpt From Leanne Shapton’s Classic Graphic Novel on Modern Love

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Originally published ten years ago, Leanne Shapton’s Was She Pretty?, a “graphic-novel-cum-children’s-book” (Publisher’s Weekly) about modern love, was inspired, the author says, by “raging jealousy.” The reader can tell, even through the book’s veneer of timeless, cosmopolitan art and elegant (if unadorned) prose. Do you remember your ex-lovers? How would you describe them in a sentence? How would you draw them? To celebrate the book’s anniversary, and perhaps to cool a few jealousies, here are five reminders of your romantic past, reprinted with the permission of publisher Drawn & Quarterly.
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