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Date: Monday, 28 Jul 2014 21:58

This month on the Poetry Podcast, Jennifer Michael Hecht reads “Noctuary,” by Lucie Brock-Broido. As its title indicates, the poem is a kind of journal of the speaker’s nighttime musings:


See the rest of the story at newyorker.com

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Author: "The New Yorker"
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Date: Monday, 28 Jul 2014 20:45

During a recent stroll in Fort Tryon Park, in upper Manhattan, I spotted a green placard emerging from a tuft of purple flowers. Its white letters read:

Let no one say, and say it to your shame, That all was beauty here, until you came.


See the rest of the story at newyorker.com

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Author: "Abigail Deutsch"
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Date: Monday, 28 Jul 2014 12:30

Last week, we announced that, for the rest of the summer and into the fall, we’d be assembling collections of favorite New Yorker stories. Today we’re releasing the second collection, of five stories about New York City, from the archive.


See the rest of the story at newyorker.com

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Author: "Joshua Rothman and Erin Overbey"
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Date: Monday, 28 Jul 2014 12:02

Your story in this week’s issue, “Action,” is set in Boston in the late fifties. Parts of it read almost like map directions: “I crossed Washington Street and headed up Bromfield, lingering in front of Little Jack Horner’s Jokes and Magic, then to Tremont, up Park to the black soldiers’ memorial and Hooker’s statue, and down Beacon.” You grew up in neighboring Medford in that era. Are the streets and landmarks of Boston etched in memory for you?

Yes, etched is the word, and in my memory the streets of the nineteen-fifties are much wider and more imposing than they look to me today. Boston is a very small city, just an old, venerable urban core, closely surrounded by towns like Medford. One of the rites of passage for anyone in those towns was to know Boston’s labyrinthine streets, the stores, the sights—like the memorials and statues, and the street where the Boston Massacre took place (British atrocity, 1770: Bostonians have long and unforgiving memories).


See the rest of the story at newyorker.com

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Author: "Deborah Treisman"
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Date: Friday, 25 Jul 2014 23:29

“Shipped Away,” by Tony Rehagen, in Atlanta magazine, tells the story of two families from Roswell, Georgia, that were ripped apart during the Civil War. The first family, the Kings, were the wealthy owners of the town’s cotton mill. The other, the Kendleys, worked in the mill, lived in company housing, and received their meagre wages in credits for the company store. When Sherman’s army came to Roswell during its march to Atlanta, the Kings’ company was seized by Union forces, and Sherman gave the order for the women and children who worked in the mill to be arrested and sent north. He wrote, “The poor women will make a howl. Let them take along their children and clothing, provided they have the means of hauling or you can spare them. We will retain them until they can reach a country where they can live in peace and security.” But many of those deported never achieved peace and security. Rehagen revisits this little-known episode of the war and traces its effects on the King and Kendley families.


See the rest of the story at newyorker.com

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Author: "Andrea DenHoed"
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Date: Friday, 25 Jul 2014 21:53

“I’d no idea in my life that I’d spend so much time writing about baseball,” muses an on-camera Roger Angell. Tomorrow, he will head to Cooperstown, New York, to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, for the words that have brought the game to readers for so many decades. Those words are now available in e-book form. To celebrate, Open Road Integrated Media produced this short video, exclusively available on newyorker.com; it’s the first in what will be a series of interviews with Angell. And, in preparation for tomorrow’s ceremonies, here are eight Angell classics from our archive:


See the rest of the story at newyorker.com

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Author: "Sky Dylan-Robbins"
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Date: Friday, 25 Jul 2014 14:00

In the past week I’ve seen and heard the popular statement “let the I.D.F. win” more and more frequently. It’s been posted on social media, spray-painted on walls, and chanted in demonstrations. Lots of young people are quoting it on Facebook, and they seem to think it’s a phrase that arose in response to the current military operation in Gaza. But I’m old enough to remember how it evolved: first formulated as a bumper sticker, and later turning into a mantra. Of course, this slogan is not addressed to Hamas or to the international community—it’s intended for Israelis, and it contains within it the twisted world view that has been guiding Israel for the past twelve years. 


See the rest of the story at newyorker.com

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Author: "Etgar Keret"
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Date: Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 23:00

The sixth in a series of posts in which we ask writers about cultural influences on their work.

History, Lies, and Research

“Lucky Us” is a book about two teen-age girls—sisters and near-strangers—who leave their home town, in Ohio, and stumble into notable fame and spectacular failure as they make their unreliable way in Hollywood, Brooklyn, and London’s West End. It’s about a family cobbled together by liars, cons, grifters, impersonators, and protagonists whose family loyalty and personal integrity is matched—and sometimes beaten to a pulp—by their extreme flexibility with the truth. (The book is set in the nineteen-forties, otherwise some of those characters would be regularly putting the word “facts” in air quotes.) The process of reinvention, the wholesale dumping of the past in favor of something more useful, the rocky journey of making your way from one world to another, shedding skins without losing yourself—is the story I kept finding in photo albums.


See the rest of the story at newyorker.com

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Author: "Amy Bloom"
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Date: Wednesday, 23 Jul 2014 19:41

It seems as if David Mitchell, the author of intricate, metafictional, time-twisting novels like “Cloud Atlas,” might be drawn to Twitter, which, seen in a certain way, is a massive, ever-expanding, self-referential catalogue of modern thought. Yet in a recent interview with the BBC, he took a dimmer view: “I don’t want to add to this ocean of trivia and irrelevance; it’s already vast and deep enough.” Mitchell said this at the very same time that he was promoting a new Twitter project: an original short story, titled “The Right Sort,” which was published in a series of more than two hundred and eighty tweets in the course of a week, ending this past Sunday. He was plain about the fact that the idea had come from his publisher, as a way to generate excitement about Mitchell’s forthcoming novel, “The Bone Clocks.” Fair enough, but everything that Mitchell writes is worth reading, and his recent experiment suggests some of the possibilities, and the limitations, of Twitter fiction.


See the rest of the story at newyorker.com

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Author: "Ian Crouch"
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Date: Monday, 21 Jul 2014 14:48

The narrator of this week’s story, “Last Meal at Whole Foods,” is a twenty-eight-year-old man who is struggling to come to terms with the diagnosis of his mother’s terminal illness. When did you first start thinking of this young man and the ways in which he and his mother would spend her final days? 

It can be traced back to my own mother and her sudden diagnosis of lymphoma two years ago. She was given four months to live if she didn’t begin chemotherapy immediately, and even then she only had a fifty per cent chance of surviving. I flew to Pittsburgh and found an assisted-living facility—in twenty-four hours—that could provide respite care for her. Amazingly, she beat the odds, and the lymphoma went into remission, but the terror and stress of that affair did not subside so quickly. I didn’t actually start thinking about the experience in terms of fiction until a few months ago. I was on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, sitting in one of their many lounges reading “The Quiet American,” by Graham Greene. There was something so soothing about the motion of the ship, the tranquility of the lounge, and the straightforward, simple, witty prose of Greene. Unless you’re Christopher Hitchens, who can write about dying while you’re dying, I think most writers need some distance from their calamities. I suppose I was being a quiet American on that cruise ship—amid three thousand passengers—and in that contemplative space the spectre of my mother’s death transformed itself into a story. It was instantly clear to me that it would begin at Whole Foods and end at the diner. It was clear that it would have a game of Scrabble and a visit to an assisted living facility. I took two thousand words worth of notes in my iPhone. When the ship returned to port, I wrote the story.


See the rest of the story at newyorker.com

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Author: "Cressida Leyshon"
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Date: Monday, 21 Jul 2014 04:05

This summer, to celebrate the re-launch of our Web site, we’ll be pulling selected articles together into mini-anthologies, starting with a collection of love stories from the fiction archive.

Putting together a love-themed fiction issue this summer had us asking ourselves questions about what exactly makes a story a love story, and thinking back to other memorable love stories from the past decade or two. First, of course, a love story requires one character (human or otherwise) to be in love or fall in love with another character (human or otherwise). Second, there must be some obstacle to the love—or else there’s love but no story. Whether it’s an unwanted pregnancy that comes between the lovers (as in T. Coraghessan Boyle’s “The Love of My Life”) or war (as in Colm Tóibín’s “Summer of ’38”) or infidelity (as in Junot Díaz’s “The Cheater’s Guide to Love”) or brain-implanted advertisement-testing devices (as in George Saunders’s “Jon”), something must keep the lovers apart for a period of time, or tear them apart after a period of time.


See the rest of the story at newyorker.com

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Author: "Deborah Treisman"
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Date: Sunday, 20 Jul 2014 20:24

The New Yorker has published more than four thousand issues since it first came out, in February, 1925. If you think you have a lot of back issues to read, imagine that stack of magazines—it would be, by our calculations, nearly seventy feet high. Through the decades, the magazine has published stories on an unusually diverse array of subjects. We’ve covered momentous historical events, such as the D Day landings, and humble ones, like the first signs of spring in midtown. We’ve published Profiles of enduring personalities (Truman Capote on Marlon Brando) and those who are relatively unknown (John McPhee on Don Ainsworth). Over the years, all of these pieces have been carefully catalogued in our in-house library.


See the rest of the story at newyorker.com

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Author: "Joshua Rothman and Erin Overbey"
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Date: Friday, 18 Jul 2014 15:22

“Mississippi was at once my ancestral land, and the sinister setting in any number of Hollywood movies, a villain in our national narrative, the place where a black boy named Emmett Till was tossed into the Tallahatchie River with a cotton gin fan around his neck.” There we are, toes curled at the edge, with Nikole Hannah-Jones, of ProPublica, as she dives into her uprooted family’s history. In 1947, Hannah-Jones tells us, her family was pushed north; nearly seventy years later, she was pulled back down South. What she found might not surprise some, but it still haunts:

It was eerie being down here where it happened, just a few miles from where my dad grew up, and realizing how easily he could have been Till. We somehow convince ourselves that this is ancient history. But I am not even 40, and my dad was but four years younger than Emmett Till. Like my dad, Till’s mother had also left as one of hundreds of thousands of black Mississippians who fled their homeland during the Great Migration.


See the rest of the story at newyorker.com

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Author: "Matthew McKnight"
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Date: Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 20:37

Reading-Leithauser.jpg

You pick up a novel. If it’s any good, before long it has you trying to get into its characters’ heads. What are they feeling? What will they do? Can they be trusted? But, behind such thoughts, broader and subtler questions arise: What is the author aiming at? What was he or she feeling when these paragraphs were written? As for the book’s perceived inconsistencies: Was the author being inattentive, or were you? Literary reading soon grades into complex efforts at mind reading.

But more complicated still—and, in some ways, more rewarding still—is the attempt to read a book through someone else’s eyes. Your thoughts triangulate. You wonder, What did person X feel when he read Y’s book?

...read more
Author: "Brad Leithauser" Tags: "books"
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Date: Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 11:35

You pick up a novel. If it’s any good, before long it has you trying to get into its characters’ heads. What are they feeling? What will they do? Can they be trusted? But, behind such thoughts, broader and subtler questions arise: What is the author aiming at? What was he or she feeling when these paragraphs were written? As for the book’s perceived inconsistencies: Was the author being inattentive, or were you? Literary reading soon grades into complex efforts at mind reading.

But more complicated still—and, in some ways, more rewarding still—is the attempt to read a book through someone else’s eyes. Your thoughts triangulate. You wonder, What did person X feel when he read Y’s book?


See the rest of the story at newyorker.com

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Author: "Brad Leithauser"
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Date: Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 00:31

AP070402014800-670.jpg.jpeg

In 2008, a publisher asked me to edit a collection of nonfiction by Nadine Gordimer, who died this week at the age of ninety. There had been a couple of short selections before, but the idea behind the project was to collect pretty much everything. Six decades of work, arranged chronologically, would provide a kind of blow-by-blow record of the times she’d lived through—from the crackdowns of the nineteen-sixties to the new democratic South Africa of the nineties, from the banning of her novels to her emergence as a leading voice in the anti-apartheid struggle and a Nobel Prize laureate.

...read more
Author: "Leo Carey" Tags: "books, postscript"
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Jul 2014 21:20

ariel-schrag.jpg

The first published works by the thirty-five-year-old writer and artist Ariel Schrag were earnestly, painfully, sometimes astonishingly honest autobiographical comics, begun in ninth grade, self-published by tenth grade, and picked up (while Schrag was in eleventh grade) by the prestigious indie publisher Slave Labor Graphics. Each of the four graphic novels—“Awkward and Definition” (1997), “Potential” (1999), and “Likewise” (2000, collected 2009) records one year of high school; each is longer than the last. The comics follow Schrag’s struggles in A.P. chemistry, her parents’ divorce, and her love for the band No Doubt, but they keep coming back to sex, and to sexual identity. She comes out as probably lesbian in tenth grade, then spends much of senior year pining after—and masturbating while thinking about—a girlfriend who’s moved away.

...read more
Author: "Stephen Burt" Tags: "books"
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Jul 2014 18:16

In 2008, a publisher asked me to edit a collection of nonfiction by Nadine Gordimer, who died this week at the age of ninety. There had been a couple of short selections before, but the idea behind the project was to collect pretty much everything. Six decades of work, arranged chronologically, would provide a kind of blow-by-blow record of the times she’d lived through—from the crackdowns of the nineteen-sixties to the new democratic South Africa of the nineties, from the banning of her novels to her emergence as a leading voice in the anti-apartheid struggle and a Nobel Prize laureate.


See the rest of the story at newyorker.com

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Author: "Leo Carey"
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Jul 2014 14:08

The first published works by the thirty-five-year-old writer and artist Ariel Schrag were earnestly, painfully, sometimes astonishingly honest autobiographical comics, begun in ninth grade, self-published by tenth grade, and picked up (while Schrag was in eleventh grade) by the prestigious indie publisher Slave Labor Graphics. Each of the four graphic novels—“Awkward and Definition” (1997), “Potential” (1999), and “Likewise” (2000, collected 2009) records one year of high school; each is longer than the last. The comics follow Schrag’s struggles in A.P. chemistry, her parents’ divorce, and her love for the band No Doubt, but they keep coming back to sex, and to sexual identity. She comes out as probably lesbian in tenth grade, then spends much of senior year pining after—and masturbating while thinking about—a girlfriend who’s moved away.


See the rest of the story at newyorker.com

Related:
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See Spot Get Depressed
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Author: "Stephen Burt"
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Date: Tuesday, 15 Jul 2014 19:30

MindfullnessFINAL%5b5%5d-580.jpg

During a trip to the United States in the nineteen-seventies, the Tibetan scholar, translator, and lifelong meditator Lobsang Lhalungpa found himself in San Francisco’s financial district. Struck by the hordes of rushing bodies, he stopped, turned to his guides, and said, “I don’t see any humans here.” This was before A.O.L.

Now, in mid-2014, a spate of recent articles and self-help books advocate the kind of mindfulness that Lhalungpa practiced, not only as a means of improving one’s health and well-being but as a way to get ahead in one’s career. Two of these books—Arianna Huffington’s “Thrive” and the “Nightline” co-anchor Dan Harris’s “10% Happier”—have remained on the Times best-seller list for months. A recent Bloomberg News article reported on the increasing use of meditation among hedge funders to maximize performance (some call themselves corporate samurai and ninjas). How did strivers everywhere come to appropriate a twenty-five-hundred-year-old philosophy of non-striving?

...read more
Author: "Jacob Rubin" Tags: "books"
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