Books

The Surprisingly Diverse History of Skinhead Culture, in All Its Controversial Forms

“You don’t have, like, Coldplay claiming they were skinheads,” tireless punk archivist, curator, and artist Toby Mott explains, “but everyone says they were punk. Everyone. Bono, whoever. Punk was very fashionable — and huge. That’s what’s intriguing about it.”

By the looks of Mott’s new book, skinhead culture is just as intriguing, albeit for different reasons. Released last December, Ditto Press and The Mott Collection’s Skinhead: An Archive explores the sociopolitical ideologies that made England’s skinhead subculture polarizing even internally. … Read More

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Expect Unexpected (as in, Not in the Book) Character Deaths in ‘Game of Thrones” Upcoming Season

Faithful readers of George R. R. Martin’s bloody and harrowing A Song of Ice and Fire are going to be in for… Read More

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How the Internet Turns Justine Saccos Into Hester Prynnes

While people abusing the Internet’s power of anonymity to be cruel, and terrorizing through comments sections and social media, isn’t what anyone would call news (see: Amanda Hess’ award-winning “Why Women Aren’t Safe on the Internet,” Gamergate, etc.), a pair of articles in this weekend’s New York Times survey the damage in a way that suggests the Internet is in dire need of a code of ethics. With just one tiny misstep — or even just a misunderstanding — any one of us could become Hester Prynne for 15 minutes. … Read More

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Zadie Smith and the Reinvention of the Diary

Literature entails a private act that goes public — a novel or book of poems becomes a publication. So it’s an ideal place to locate certain anxieties about the self and its relation to the wider world. And what form of literature exacerbates these anxieties more than the diary? Recently, Zadie Smith, who is no stranger to expressing her anxieties to the public, wrote a short piece for Rookie called “Life Writing,” in which she explains her many failed attempts at diaristic… Read More

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The War Novel in the Age of Total Information Awareness

The twin publication of the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture and Mohamedou Slahi’s Guantánamo Diary has unleashed a disorienting irony: in the Age of Total Information Awareness, in the era of the NSA dragnet, meaning itself is redacted. The more information our government collects, the less we seem to know. Even worse: the gap between what those in power know and what we know now overwhelms the dragnets of our imaginations. This explains why our philosophers, like Slavoj Žižek, revert to the platitudes of Donald Rumsfeld to explain the issues of the day: under the tyranny of unknown knowns, even our public intellectuals bow down to the knowledge, the intelligence, of the governing elite. … Read More

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Jonathan Franzen Is Wrong: Genre Fiction Is All About Moral Complexity

Well, there’s a new Jonathan Franzen interview out with literary magazine Booth, and for someone who eschews the Internet, the man sure knows how to conquer it. The Twitter detractor is now, himself, a trending topic on Twitter. Well done, sir. Well done. … Read More

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Enter the ‘Love Hotel': Erotics Triumph Over Interpretation in Jane Unrue’s Novel

Jane Unrue’s Love Hotel, we know by way of its dust jacket, is a novel, a roman, a romance. It is also a poem where the stanzas are pages: with broken lines, cinematic cuts, intensified phrasing, wavering intuitions. And it is a play or screenplay with slug lines: NURSERY, STONE STEPS, NIGHT WE MET. Yet it is resolutely counter to the spirit of the book to render it whole. It is meant to be traced, I think, by the body or hand of the mind. “In place of a hermeneutics,” Susan Sontag admonished us, “we need an erotics of art.” I know of few contemporary novels that justify this sentiment more than Love Hotel. … Read More

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How Amazon and ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Created a Golden Age for Self-Published Romance Authors — and Why It May Already Be Over

“Romance never does go out of fashion. It’s radical.” – Bob Dylan, AARP Magazine

For Monica Murphy, a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance writer living in the foothills of California’s Yosemite National Park, a typical day goes like this: she spends an hour online tending to her social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Then, when her three kids are off to school, she gets down to the serious business of writing sexy romance novels. … Read More

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