fiction

In Search of Lost Memory: Jesse Ball’s Elegiac ‘A Cure for Suicide’

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What if memory behaves like an immune system? Let’s say, for the sake of a thought experiment, that our memory acts as a time-mind barrier, swelling around our psychic wounds, expanding or contracting in reaction to external stimuli. It might be possible, on that basis, to tear down our memories and rebuild them in much the same way that modern medicine razes the immune system in order to make way for alien stem cells.
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Read as Yourself: Ben Marcus on New American Fiction and the Art of the Anthology

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Later this month, Vintage Contemporaries will publish New American Stories, a richly variegated anthology of American short stories edited by Ben Marcus. The collection, which Marcus put together more as a playlist or mixtape than a “museum piece,” is a stirring arrangement that presents a strong case for the American short story as a vital, living thing. And, like unmediated life, it is uncategorizable.

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10 Must-Read Books for July

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Bookended by highly entertaining reality novels that rely on healthy doses of unreality — Linda Rosenkrantz’s groundbreaking Talk and Hilary Liftin’s Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper — July is the best time to lose yourself in the in-between.
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Anton Chekhov’s Hysterical First Book Is Published After 130 Years

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If you have never heard of Antosha Chekhonte, the brilliant parodist who published sharp, persistently hilarious sketches in Russian humor magazines (like The Alarm Clock and Dragonfly) during the late 1870s and early 1880s — well, you’re forgiven. Chekhonte, if you didn’t guess right away, was actually the young Anton Chekhov, and his first book of writings, The Prank, has never been published. Thankfully, this mess will be corrected this July when the New York Review of Books releases the slim book — a collection that Chekhov meant to usher his breakthrough into wider literary fame — for the first time in more than 130 years.
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17 Pathbreaking Non-Binary and Gender-Fluid Novels

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Contemporary literature is an amorphous, expansive thing, and it isn’t always easy to pinpoint how or why it is changing or what it may become. But in the current moment, at least one promising development is certain: literary writing that challenges or refuses stable gender binaries is of increasing critical and aesthetic prominence. The last month alone has seen the publication and widespread critical acclaim of Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, a moving, multi-genre consideration of gender fluidity (among other themes). At the end of April, too, American audiences were finally able to access Anne Garétta’s Sphinx — wonderfully translated from the French by Emma Ramadan — a novel that uses no gender markers to refer to its protagonists. With these books in mind, the list below contains a collection of novels that feature agender, bigender, or gender-fluid characters or …Read More

What Do We Want from Writing? Money? A Career? Recognition?

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It’s time to rethink everything. Everything. What it means to write and what it means to write for a public — and which public. What do I want from this writing? Money? A career? Recognition? A place in the community? A change in the government? World peace? Is it an artifice, is it therapy? Is it therapy because it is an artifice, or in spite of that? Does it have to do with constructing an identity, a position in society? Or simply with entertaining myself, with entertaining others? Will I still write if they don’t pay …Read More