Books

The Meursault Investigation

Kamel Daoud’s ‘The Meursault Investigation': A Postcolonial Rejoinder to Camus’ Absurdist Classic ‘The Stranger’

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Absurdism did not start out as a literary movement whose setting was “nowhere” — though that was, in many cases, where it it ultimately settled. Camus’ revered novel The Stranger was firmly rooted (or firmly anti-rooted, really) in the author’s provenance: colonial Algeria. It was published in 1942, the same year as Camus’ early absurdist manifesto, The Myth of Sisyphus — and these two works could easily be seen as the founding documents of what would become a predominantly midcentury European literary tradition. The Stranger‘s solipsistic antihero, Meursault, lived in Algeria (but notably belonged nowhere) almost a decade before the publication of some of the most important, movement-defining works in the Theatre of the Absurd. Between the ’50s and ’60s, these works would ultimately remove the Absurd from real-world notions of “place.”
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darknet_feature

8 Surprising Facts About the Rise of the Dark Net

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One of the truly indispensable works of nonfiction released in 2015, Jamie Bartlett’s The Dark Net charts the rise of the anonymous Internet — the “dark net” — and its many appendages. Bolstered by rising cryptographic technologies, a fair amount of intellectual hubris, and no shortage of libertarian pride, the trolls and programmers who “built” the dark net (or labored in its underbelly) can aggravate the sensibility of even the sanest person. Nevertheless, the story of how it all came to be is fascinating. Here, drawn from Bartlett’s book, are eight facts you may not have known about the rise of the dark… Read More

David_Shields

‘That Thing You Do With Your Mouth': ‘Reality Hunger’ Brand David Shields as Ventriloquist Porn Director

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David Shields is a literary brand in need of devaluation. His last name is not a surname; it’s the predicate in a sentence where the indirect object is “quality,” and the direct object is anyone who publishes with him. By this I mean that Shields’ famed “reality hunger” has given way to a kind of base gluttony that masks a deeper need to see his name stamped twice-yearly on books with literary themes. This, in effect, turns his “essays” into documentaries wherein Shields becomes an auteur-documentarian who cobbles, edits, guides, but never produces any worthwhile literary work.
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knaus

Karl Ove Knausgaard on Charlie Rose: ‘My Struggle’ as the Great Middle American Novel of Protestant Shame

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Last night, Charlie Rose, with his Carolinian drawl, sounding like he put a thimble of bourbon in his sweet tea, introduced American Baby Boomers to author Karl Ove Knausgaard. All in all, it went terribly. Just imagine the famed “Charlie Rose” by Samuel Beckett video — even with its flaws, still the greatest video ever produced for the Internet — interjected by a handsome, primetime Odin who hovers many miles above giving his host a straight answer. To make matters worse, Rose, brimming with hubris, had just won the 2015 Cronkite Award for “asking the tough questions that affect people around the world.”
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HELTER-SKELTER

Charles Manson in Pop Culture: A Guide to the Best Books and Movies

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Last week, NBC premiered Aquarius (and then posted the full season online), a gritty 1960s crime thriller in which a homicide detective (David Duchovny) finds himself involved in a missing persons case that will ultimately lead him to Charles Manson (Gethin Anthony). The series isn’t great; it’s a mixed bag of procedural antics with Manson looming vaguely in the background. If you’re disappointed by the series and longing for a more realistic and intelligent look into the chilling life and crimes of Charles Manson — perhaps as a complement to the new, Manson-focused season of the film podcast You Must Remember This — here are the best books and movies to check out. 
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kundera_feature

10 Must-Read Books for June

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Always the sleeper month, poised on the edge of beach weather, June often yields the best mix of diverting and satisfying reads. And, this year, they come in pairs. Take the absurdist visions of Etgar Keret and Milan Kundera, or the deep internet excavations of Joshua Cohen and Jamie Bartlett, or the debut fictions of Mia Alvar and Rebecca Dinerstein… June of 2015 strikes the perfect balance ahead of the autumnal slog through literary… Read More