Books

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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10 Must-Read Books for February 2016

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With its panoramic historical novels, long-awaited follow-ups, impressive debuts, and sure-fire debate-sparking works of criticism and investigative nonfiction, February of 2016 seems to contain an entire year’s worth of reading. And it does. You’d better get started, then, and be thankful you get an extra day of reading (because of leap year).
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