Books

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Watching a Speculative Novel Come to Life in Rachel Dolezal’s Story

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Late last Thursday night, filing out of the Delacorte Theater in Central Park after a performance of The Tempest, I glanced down at my phone and saw that a well-known comedian, a friend of a friend, had tweeted something about my novel. “This #RachelDolezal story feels like the prequel to the book Your Face in Mine,” he wrote.

A version of my novel was leaving the realm of the imaginary and becoming news.
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Donald Trump

Can John Oliver and Melville House Make Donald Trump — or President Obama — Read the Torture Report?

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At the turn of the last calendar year, in what we called “a watershed moment in contemporary publishing,” Brooklyn-based independent publisher Melville House, working tirelessly (and sometimes without sleep) over a period of several weeks, published the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report. It was a groundbreaking feat for an independent press because (as we said at the time) the sheer size and complexity of such a publishing project typically precludes them from pursuing the release of such government reports. And, as Melville House publisher Dennis Johnson explained to us, the government typically releases major reports only to big publishers:
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20 Great Comic Book Series to Read This Summer

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With Marvel and DC narratives increasingly taking over our movies and television shows, it’s sometimes hard to remember that there are tons of other comic book series to read — and what better time to do so than during a lazy summer full of unoriginal reality programs and questionable blockbuster movies? Plus, comics are lightweight and convenient to throw into a beach bag. Here are 20 series to check out, featuring everything from teen camp scouts to self-aware robots, and Golden Age of Hollywood noir to prison exploitation… Read More

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Writers’ Stunning Photos of the Places That Inspire Them and Make Them Think

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Inspiration isn’t easy to tap into in our plugged-in, oversaturated world. Writers and other creative people often crave solitude, peace, or a place to recharge so they can commit to their work — whether that place is a window on a stunning natural environment, a quiet desk in the middle of urban bustle, a beautiful temple to art, or a cozy chair or kitchen table. We asked 13 fiction writers with books either coming soon or just published to send us a photo of their favorite places to work, get inspired, or welcome the muse — whether they’re crafting YA page-turners or drafting slow short… Read More

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The Funniest Secret Society in (Portable) Literary History

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Every secret society has its founding myth, and the “Shandies” were no different. In the winter of 1924, or so the story goes, Russian symbolist Andrei Bely suffered a nervous breakdown on the selfsame “towering rock” where Nietzsche first discovered the concept of “the eternal recurrence of the same.” On that same day, composer Edgar Varèse fell from his horse while parodying French poet Guillaume Apollinaire. The coincidence of these two seemingly unrelated events held great importance for the Shandies, who counted Marcel Duchamp, Varèse, Walter Benjamin, Aleister Crowley, Francis Picabia, the suicidal poet Jacques Rigaut, and many others, among their ranks.
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T.S. Eliot

New Tech Company Names That Brilliantly Reinterpret Famous Poems

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Recently we read about a new media company that aims for the elusive market known as millennials. Nothing new there, except for the fact that its name, OZY Media, has some decidedly highbrow origins.

Watson said the name of the company came from one of his favorite poemsShelley’s Ozymandiaswhich tells the story of an ancient king whose broken statue now sits forgotten in the desert. Some have taken the poem to mean that even mighty kings are eventually forgotten, but Watson said the lesson he takes from it is that you have to dream big. And there is no question OZY is dreaming big.

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‘Book of Numbers': 2015’s Great Novel of Ideas Explained With Animated GIFS

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Joshua Cohen has just been dubbed “a major American writer” by the New York Times and a “great American novelist” by Tablet. At 34, he is the author of eight books, including the 800-page Witz and now the 600-page Book of Numbers.

In Book of Numbers, a failed novelist is, like the author, named Joshua Cohen, but he is about ten years older than the actual Joshua Cohen — he’s paunchy, losing his hair, and in the middle of a protracted divorce. He’s been hired by another Joshua Cohen, referred to in the book as “Principal,” the CEO of Tetration, a fictional company that reads like a merger of Google and Apple. Principal is a Steve Jobs-like figure: in ill health and devoted to the California version of an Eastern religion. The novel retraces the birth and rise of the Internet, as well as the much longer — and, in some important ways, ending — history of print culture. It’s about surveillance and data and the impact of these on all of us now and, as the novel’s long view of history would suggest, in the years ahead.
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The Worst Canonical Kids’ Books and What to Replace Them With

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Recently over at Slate, Gabriel Roth made a very good argument for the basic awfulness of Janette Sebring Lowrey’s The Poky Little Puppy, postulating that the only reason that book and books like it persist in our cultural consciousness is because of the nostalgia effect — my mom read this to me, so I’d better read it to my kids, etc. But there is another way! Why not replace some of those canonical (but actually boring, or lame, or morally questionable) kids’ books with some better ones, and stop the nostalgia cycle in its tracks? To that end, please find below a list of canonical children’s books that could be retired, and which books, new and old, to read… Read More

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8 Comics for Literature Lovers by Drawn & Quarterly

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This month — a special one for lovers of comics, cartoons and graphic novels — marks the release of Drawn and Quarterly: Twenty-Five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels. To celebrate the book and Drawn & Quarterly’s 25th anniversary, we’ve asked creative director Tom Devlin to provide a “random list of his favorite comics” for our literary… Read More