Books

Don’t Count on Tomorrow Being the End of Crazy ‘Serial’ Theories: Links You Need to See

The disappearance and probable murder of 43 university students in the Mexican state of Guerrero has sparked outrage and protests across the country. The official story is that the mayor of Iguala, Guerrero, and his wife ordered the disappearance of the students, who were kidnapped by municipal police and handed over to the local crime organization Guerrero Unidos. However, Vice News, coupled with Mexican print magazine Proceso, report that there’s a lot more to the story than President Enrique Nieto’s government is claiming. Vice‘s investigation of the incident in Iguala has been thorough and excellent all the way through. Priscilla Mosquedo‘s addition to the series is no exception. … Read More

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Uber, Ebola, and Other Evils: Links You Need To See

Welcome back to the real world, weekenders. Remember Ebola? There was a panic here in the States because a handful of people, mostly medical professionals, in major American cities had gotten it–Dallas, Manhattan. There are no known cases of Ebola in the US at present. But there are in West Africa. As of December 4, there were more than 17,000 reported cases of Ebola, spread across Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, and will likely blast through the CDC’s prediction of petering out at 20,000. But no one’s really talking about it anymore. Let’s talk about it. … Read More

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35 Susan Sontag Quotes on Art, Writing, and Life

Susan Sontag’s prose style captivated readers, and her assertive critical stance never failed to invite controversy. This month marks the tenth anniversary of the author’s passing, and the documentary Regarding Susan Sontag airs on HBO tonight. In honor of both occasions, we revisited her journals and books to find some of Sontag’s most thought-provoking quotes on everything from relationships and art to war and pop… Read More

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100 Years Later, What Have We Learned From James Joyce’s ‘Dubliners’?

Twelve years ago, I inadvertently began a literary ritual that I’ve kept alive to this day. It was late in the first term of my freshman year of college, and I’d been assigned to lead a discussion on James Joyce’s “The Dead,” the devastating final story in his collection Dubliners. Never having read it, I was unaware of the symbolic importance of snow in the story. It happened to be the first snowfall of the year, and by the time I reached the book’s end, my romantic, teenaged soul swooned along with Gabriel’s, as he heard “the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.” So, as embarrassing as it is to admit, I now re-read “The Dead” on the first snowfall of every year. … Read More

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10 Famous Poems That Appeared in Film

For decades, Hollywood has looked to the annals of literature for inspiration. Literary adaptations are more popular than ever, but poetry is still largely untapped. Films like Ken Russell’s Gothic and Jane Campion’s Bright Star center on famous poets, and there are some great movies based on poems, but we’re looking at the appearance of poetry in films — instances where characters and narratives are reflected in poetic works, recited in the movies themselves. Here’s a video scrapbook of poetry in movies. Feel free to continue adding to the list with your own video examples, below. … Read More

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How to Make It: Sarah Gerard Funds Her Debut Book Tour Through Kickstarter

This is the first entry in a new series that looks at contemporary publishing through the lens of how new books are written or made, especially by younger writers, and how these writers “make it” over the hurdles set by a competitive industry.

Sarah Gerard’s debút novel, Binary Star, won’t be released until next January, but already several young, established authors—including Kate Zambreno, Jenny Offill, and Justin Taylor—are offering their praises. The novel tells the story of a young woman who struggles with anorexia, and the road trip she takes across America with her alcoholic boyfriend. I’d also mention that it deals with veganarchism and the birth and death of stars. … Read More

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Not Graham Greene: On Denis Johnson’s ‘The Laughing Monsters’

“I’m not trying to be Graham Greene. I think I actually am Graham Greene,” Denis Johnson told his editor before turning in the manuscript for his new novel, The Laughing Monsters. The novel takes place amid the maelstrom of corruption in modern day Africa, often in Sierra Leone, where Graham Greene ventured to write The Heart of the Matter. Greene’s own wanderlust precipitated his recruitment into the British secret service, so it’s not a surprise to find Johnson’s new book awash in the language of espionage. Nor is it the first time: Johnson’s National Book Award-winning Tree of Smoke featured CIA agents in Vietnam; The Laughing Monsters deals with the exploits of a corrupt, half-Scandinavian NATO operative named Roland Nair. One starts to wonder if Denis Johnson isn’t also a CIA or NATO recruit, but, then again, his father did work for the U.S. State Department. … Read More

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In Praise of Literary Failure

I’ll be honest: I’m baffled by the contemporary mania for the slogan “fail better.” Sure, in context, I appreciate Samuel Beckett’s famous line, but I can’t shake the notion that it comes from a piece called Worstward Ho. “Ever tried,” he writes, “Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” The way it’s often used today, “fail better” implies that we’re lurching and stumbling, toddler-like, toward a better world. But the speaker in Beckett’s fiction isn’t moving toward success; he’s moving worstward. If we take the Oxford English Dictionary’s first-order definition of failure as a “lack of success,” we can appreciate that to fail better is to screw up more drastically, more spectacularly than ever before. To “fail better” is to lurch and stumble ever closer to the abyss. … Read More

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The 35 Best Books by Cinema’s Greatest Auteurs

It’s an old standby that if a person is truly a master at one thing, he’s probably not great at much else. But when it comes to cinema, the auteur’s role is to be good at everything — sound, writing, camerawork, etc. — while also maintaining an overarching vision. So it isn’t surprising that there are so many great books written by cinema’s most famous (and infamous)… Read More

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