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Read Chuck Klosterman, Blow Your Mind, Then Put on Your Pants

Chuck Klosterman’s new book succeeds by failing spectacularly.

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The ‘Chainmail Bikini’ Success Story: Challenging Sexism in Gaming and Comics

A growing array of writers are challenging previously dominant tropes of misogyny, sexuality, and whiteness; 40 of them can be found here.

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We Still Want Everything: The Politicisation of Anti-work

Less work, more pay, more leisure, guaranteed income -- We Want Everything sends a stirring reminder that these are not new demands.

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The Geek Feminist Revolution Is Not Only Changing Genres of Fiction, but Society Itself

Whether new worlds are created with the stroke of a keypad or the waving of a placard, both reflect the human capacity for growth, for reinvention, for hope.

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The Sad Rest of Kurt Cobain

Nick Soulsby’s interview book for completists is not meant to entertain -- it's a 500-page death march.

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‘The Statesman and the Storyteller’: The Imperatives of State and the Imperatives of Conscience

Mark Zwonitzer's work offers a searing and sobering exploration of how America’s imperialist century opened: just as brutally as it would end.

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‘The Hunger Games’: The Writer’s Cut Really Is Better (Sponsored Article)

Even if you've seen The Hunger Games films dozens of times, the books will reveal character complexities that were left out of the film adaptations.

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‘The Restless Clock’ Will Have You Pondering the Matter of Matter

History of science professor Dr. Jessica Riskin examines how we banished agency from the science of living things.

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An Anatomical Dissection of Calvino’s ‘If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler’

Postmodernism seeks to disrupt the grand narrative, and expose the artifice of writing. Dissected, its innards revealed, this resembles geometry.

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Teen Manga Tackle Tough Topics

From deafness to gender identity, teen manga offer rewarding and complex treatments of fraught issues.

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Muhammad Ali and the Day Fans Pelted the Ring With Trash

In his new book, Ali vs. Inoki, Josh Gross untangles the complicated history of the 1976 meeting of two legends -- and a failed experiment.

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‘Til Human Faces Wake Us: Don DeLillo’s ‘Zero K’

For all that it is cold and disquieting, DeLillo's latest is also his most sincere -- his most human -- meditation on death yet.

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Slain Journalist’s Open Letter Tackles Racism, Islamophobia, and Free Speech

For all its infamy, few outside of France really understand what Charlie Hebdo is all about. A manifesto posthumously published by its editor, offers insights.

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If You Are Patient Like a Samurai, Kazuo Koike’s ‘Lone Wolf and Cub’ Will Reward You

Dark and bleak, absorbing and fascinating, Dark Horse's reprint of this massive samurai manga classic deserves your time.

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Drawing Disaster: Comics, War and Trauma

Disaster Drawn reveals that comics may be the most useful form for witnessing war and trauma.

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Socialist Solutions for America’s Problems

A growing array of America’s leading thinkers and activists have gone from critiquing the excesses of capitalism to charting the future of American socialism.

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How to Save the Media (and Democracy)

The system of media and journalism on which our democracy relies is under threat. French economist Julia Cage surveys the scale of the crisis and proposes a unique solution.

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Criticism: It Gets Personal

New York Times film critic A.O. Scott defends his craft in a thought-provoking book, even as he gets attacked by the very industry he critiques.

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Is Copyright Killing Creativity?

It's time to move toward an open-source model for literary and creative production, argues Illegal Literature, a provocative new challenge to traditional copyright models.

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How Does a Feminist Deal With a Cheating Husband?

Couple Mechanics is a suspenseful, moving drama about marriage, resilience, and the misogyny of faux feminist men.

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Was Frederick Douglass America’s First Media-savvy Political Activist?

The Lives of Frederick Douglass and Picturing Frederick Douglass reveal a radical approach to discussing politics, race and self.

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Patrick Modiano’s Powerful Glimpse Into the Spirit of Paris

Young Once and In the Cafe of Lost Youth offer a concentrated sense of both the immensity of space and density of meaning that defines Paris.

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Ireland’s Newest Literary Sensation, Sara Baume, Crosses the Atlantic

The enchanting story of a one-eyed dog has stolen hearts across Europe. Its author reflects on her success, her first smartphone, and literary distinctions between Europe and America.

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The Compulsive Artist: An Interview With Julie Doucet

Julie Doucet is still often associated with her award-winning comics work of the ‘90s. As Carpet Sweeper Tales demonstrates, however, she’s been doing a lot more since moving on from comics.

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“The Marketplace Is a Greater Democracy Than the Political Arena”

The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man may be the most important book of 2016, since reading it is like getting a top secret state department debriefing on world affairs.

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Ametora: When Cultural Appropriation Becomes Fashionable

The insightful new study, Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style, demonstrates how Japan beat American fashion at its own game

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On Writing the Hidden History of American Women’s Lives

Sonja Livingston uses poetic essays to breathe life into some of America’s most remarkable, and little known, women.

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A No-Nonsense Agenda for the Left

The authors of Inventing the Future ask: why think local, when there’s a world to win?

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Christianity’s Crisis in Medieval Japan Says a Lot About Cultural Dialogue Today

Shusaku Endo’s classic novel of faith, doubt, and intercultural communication, Silence, readies itself for a timely big-screen debut by Director Martin Scorsese.

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Anthropology’s Storyteller-Shaman-Sorcerer Strikes Again With ‘The Corn Wolf’

Michael Taussig’s work both attracts and angers other anthropologists. It also re-enchants a discipline that is in desperate need of it.

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What Rod Dreher Ought to Know About Dante and Same-Sex Love

Getting Dante straight means getting him gay, as well.

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Showa Epic of Japan Concludes the Story of a Man and His Nation

Past and present converge in Mizuki’s conceptually rich manga.

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‘The Autobiography of James T. Kirk’: Backstories for Everyone!

Filled with in-jokes and subtle references to the show, uber-fans will love this "auto" biography of Star Trek's Captain Kirk and the stories of the people in his life.

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On Judging the Judges of the US Supreme Court

Cass R. Sunstein categorizes the Court’s judges into personas, tracing their personalities according to the position they assume in their rulings.

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‘Asking For It’ Is a Harrowing Read, But Offers Hope, Too

Kate Harding offers a damning survey of rape culture’s tenacious hold on American society, and argues that recognizing the problem is the first step to fixing it

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What Can Mushrooms Tell Us About the End of Capitalism?

An anthropologist ties together mushrooms, salvage accumulation, and the end of capitalism’s progress narrative.

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Ian Buruma: A Voice of Tolerance and Erudition Among Liberalism’s Intellectuals

In Theater of Cruelty the politics of love, war, and popular culture define the career of one of today’s foremost public intellectuals.

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Performing Politics: Judith Butler and the Struggle for the Street

We may hate that we are vulnerable and dependent upon one another, argues Judith Butler, but it's that very interdependence that allows us to mobilize together as social movements.

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Gabriel Urza Redefines the Political Novel With ‘All That Followed’

The former public defender notes that All That Followed "...requires people to think about political actors as individuals rather than as ideologues. That's been my experience in real life."

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Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet Offers Penetrating Psychological and Sociopolitical Insight

A committed feminist, Ferrante writes with often astonishing candor, even "ferocity", about women's lives, their conflicted relationships with their bodies, with each other, and with men.

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‘Operation Ajax’ Illustrates How the CIA Destroyed Democracy in Iran

The extent of US involvement in undermining Middle Eastern democracy is gradually coming to light, and being told through a variety of genres.

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How Should We Respond to Terrorism?

After the Paris Attacks is a collection of research that moves away from the US to look at Canadian and European debates over terrorism.

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Bingham Prize Winner Jack Livings on Imagining China

Award-winning fiction writer Jack Livings discusses his new book, The Dog, and the importance of writing with moral purpose.

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‘Spirits Rejoice!’ Takes a New Look Into an Old Tradition

Scholar Jason C. Bivins thinks through more difficult aspects of the relationships between jazz and American religions, while at the same time examining the permeability of both.

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What Is the Real Story of the Atomic Bombings?

America claimed the atomic bomb ended World War II and saved American lives. Journalist and historian Paul Ham calls that “a pack of lies”.

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Danielewski’s ‘The Familiar, Vol. 1’ Is Too Much, All at Once

As a compendium of inventive thought and prose, The Familiar, Vol. 1 succeeds. As a coherent novel, it's impenetrable.

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30 Jun 2015 // 2:30 AM

Is Gender Out of Fashion?

Sex and Unisex, a history of fashion trends offers insight into changing notions of gender – and raises the possibility that the concept has outlived its usefulness.

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Neoliberalism Is Changing Our World Without Our Even Noticing

Wendy Brown charts the ‘stealth revolution’ that’s transforming every aspect of society -- and now has democracy in its sights.

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19 May 2015 // 3:30 AM

Is Online Trolling a Reflection of Our Social Values?

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things confronts the interrelation between subversive trolls and mainstream ideas, and opens up conversations about post-internet politics, activism, and human relationships.

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15 Apr 2015 // 2:30 AM

On Epigraphs and Other Incestuous Things

Like a cover letter, the epigraph must take me to the textual meat without giving me reason to discard the sandwich altogether.

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Robert Christgau Falls From Grace in ‘Going into the City’

We have here the post-apocalyptic wanderer, able to go anywhere because there’s nowhere he belongs.

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What Would Don Draper Do? Reading Dante in a Secular Age

Many readers of our generation emulate Don Draper, having lost Dante's connections to Christianity or perhaps to any such deity.

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Guy Kawasaki on the Art of Social Media

Guy Kawasaki defines “good stuff” to post online, and how to really get more followers. (Hint: don’t pay for them!)

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Uncovering Queer History in ‘Gay Berlin’

Gay Berlin reveals a vibrant gay rights movement that flourished in Germany a hundred years before Stonewall.

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From Tehran to Tel Aviv: Of Crime and the Cities

Akashic Noir series continues to serve up delightful and disturbing gems that offer remarkable insights into the world’s great (and not-so-great) cities.

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Let’s Make Childhood Savage, Again

A growing movement says we ought to help our kids lead riskier lives with the intent of improving society.

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Will the Bubble Burst on Our Right to Privacy?

A legal scholar and former journalist warns that if modern media pushes the envelope too far, we could all wind up losing.

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Tracing a Literary Lineage in Jonathan Franzen’s ‘The Kraus Project’

This unlikely combination of a translation and memoir offers as many telling insights into the preoccupations of Jonathan Franzen as it does into Karl Kraus' life and work.

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11 Feb 2015 // 3:30 AM

In Defense of Brunch

A provocative and insightful new book challenges us to rethink our obsession with brunch, and to critically consider what this overpriced, messy meal really says about shifting class identities in today’s world.

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America Went to War on Terror and Terror Won

Veteran Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn provides exceptional analysis of the Islamic State and the broader conflict in Syria and Iraq.

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In Conversational Orbit of ‘God’s Planet’ With Owen Gingerich

Religion and science, two of the great cathedrals of knowledge, are often perceived as being in a state of conflict with one another. Gingerich is of the mind that the two cannot be separated.

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‘The Secret History of Wonder Woman’ Also Reveals a Great Deal About Our Own Social History

Jill Lepore's hit new book on Wonder Woman sheds light not only on the astonishing origins of this iconic character, but also on the fascinating social and political strands of history which gave rise to her.

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Perilous Discoveries: The Feminist Murder-Mysteries of Charlotte Armstrong

Armstrong's women opened the same forbidden doors as Agatha Christie and Patricia Wentworth's, but her characters also opened those doors for other, more pressing, reasons.

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‘Philosophy Bites Again’ Is a True Philosophical Gourmet

This is a dinner party in book form, although with topics such as torture, group agency, hate speech, and the afterlife, it's not for the absent-minded.

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‘Collected Poems’ Captures the Vibrant Life of a Great Poet

Mark Strand's death in December 2014 casts a different light on his newest poetry volume, as it now carries the weight of summarizing a life in writing.

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A Blockbuster Turns 30: Alan Light Talks About Prince and ‘Purple Rain’

Music journalist and author of Let's Go Crazy: Prince and the Making of Purple Rain Alan Light talks with PopMatters about Prince's one-of-a-kind perfect album.

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‘American Interior’: A Multimedia Tale of a Welsh Vision Quest

Gruff Rhys' innovative, multi-platform narrative unfolds the beguiling and intriguing narrative of an enigmatic Welshman seeking out his kind... in America.

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‘The Copyright Wars’ Rage on After 300 Years

In a historical sweep of trans-Atlantic arguments over copyright law, some surprising shifts and patterns emerge, but the key, centuries-long battles remain.

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‘Yes Please’ Is White Liberal Feminism in Full Force

Yes Please is an honest but dull book that embraces the politics, and thereby the problems, of white liberal feminism.

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‘The Red Tent’ Has Regaled Readers for 17 Years, and It Remains as Powerful as Ever

Anita Diamant’s storytelling is exceptional. There’s something here for everyone in a work which is an unquestioned masterpiece of historical fiction.

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“Pussy Riot Is a Mask”: The Prison Letters of Nadya Tolokonnikova and Slavoj Zizek

The prison correspondence of Tolokonnikova and Zizek might not change the world, but it ought to be required reading for those with such aspirations.

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Caitlin Moran: Lady Sex Pirate and Working Class Hero

The remarkable author of How to Build a Girl wasn’t seeking controversy; she just wanted to change the world.

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M. R. James’ Horror and the Tricky Business of the Imagination

M. R. James preferred to internalize horror so that the victim had the grotesqueries playing out in his heart and head, rather than in the cemetery across the way.

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3 Nov 2014 // 3:30 AM

What Would Jessica Fletcher Tweet?

The preternaturally smart heroine of Angela Lansbury's Murder, She Wrote sets a positive example for how writers have to promote themselves in our Twitter-centric world.

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Katha Pollitt on Reclaiming Abortion Rights, Rejecting Shame and Renewing America’s Potential

Pollitt’s new book, Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights is both a call to arms and a call for honest reflection.

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Playing With Consistency Inconsistency: Jeff VanderMeer Takes Us into Area X

The adventurous Annihilation + the Raymond Chandler-like Authority + the existentialist Acceptance = the engaging Southern Reach Trilogy.

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The Other Side of the Looking Glass: An Interview with Kelli Deeth

Kelli Deeth’s characters, at the end of their wits and their youth, take the long, last painful look into their abating past, only to see themselves staring back at a fated future.

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Ferguson, Missouri: Real and Imagined

As art imitates life, there are parallels between the violence in Laura McBride's We Are Called to Rise and the most recent headlines of violence in America.

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Everything You Think You Know About Human Rights Is Wrong

Human rights movements, says Samuel Moyn, have done a poor job protecting and fighting for social and economic rights.

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On Those Who Must Work as Whores, and Those Who Can Afford to Just Play at It

The debate about sex work is usually about the spectacle that accompanies “sex”, rather than about the sex workers and the work of sex. That needs to change.

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11 Jun 2014 // 2:30 AM

Eve Babitz, with Los Angeles at Her Feet

As the cynosure of the counterculture, Eve Babitz knew everybody worth knowing; slept with everybody worth sleeping with and better still, made herself felt in every encounter.

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Of Art and Magic: An Interview with Novelist Porochista Khakpour

What happens when magical thinking really consumes a person or even a society?

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Civilized Murders: An Interview with Hugh Fleetwood

Hugh Fleetwood’s chilling and dark mysteries deal with psychologically-damaged characters, ones whose actions are usually the result of some personality disorder often undisclosed to everyone but the reader.

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‘The Age of Atheists’ Considers That Beyond Reason or Religion, Our Quest for Meaning Endures

Who will choose this enriching and rewarding removal from reality TV and manufactured distraction? Who will walk the course mapped in these heady pages, along a sobering path of self-awareness of our fragile presence surrounded by darkness and mystery?

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The Drowning Pool: When Great Writers Are Drunks

Berryman, Carver, Cheever, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Williams; none could tend the flame of their talent with anything but liquor and devastation.

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Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

Uncharted puts the "big data" of Google Books through the lens of a tool called Ngram, but the meaning of the results, and even their validity, turn a great read into a cautionary tale.

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What Would Thomas Pynchon Do?

Like his protagonists, Thomas Pynchon appears to remind us, in his absence from advising us, that we must rely on our own smarts, arrayed against mystery and cynicism and corruption.

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“The Goodness of Privacy in a Warm Room with Books”

We all search for escape, and while music, drugs, radicalism, or fame may ease the monotony, the protagonists of so many of these tales find themselves at the end of their narratives still constrained.

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A Lot of Good Books Published in 2013 Kept Me Awake at Night

The year 2013 saw a rash of big new books published, from the likes of Stephen King, Malcolm Gladwell, and David Sedaris; none of whom made this list.

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Fiction Had Appeal and Poetry Captured Me, but Non-Fiction Proved Irresistible in 2013

Art, politics, poetry, food, and global fiction: 2013 year brought in a variety of engaging titles from many genres. Still, non-fiction tops my 2013 favorites.

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2013 Was a Fine Year to Have Your Head In a Book

Five books published in 2013 that stayed with me, that I found myself urging on others, that I now say to you, Hey! Read this!

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In ‘Imperial’ Vollmann Struggles to Understand the Salton Sea as He Would a Mark Rothko Painting

Here as in all his works, William T. Vollman sides with the poor and the marginalized, but he tries to remain fair to all he meets, even as he confesses his prejudice, or tolerance.

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Albert Camus and the Universal Quality of Human Dignity

Both Elements of a Life and A Life Worth Living offer concise, eloquent, and learned treatments of the life and work of Albert Camus.

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John Updike Gives the Mundane Its Beautiful Due

Depending on whom you listen to, God, or the devil, is in the details, and that's exactly where John Updike's talent lies, too.

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Guston’s Ghosts: ‘Out of Time: Philip Guston and the Refiguration of American Postwar Art’

Robert Slifkin's book on Philip Guston is an incantatory debut work that shows us a compelling new side of the artist's famous Marlborough paintings.

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The Connoisseur of Crime, John D. MacDonald, Is Shadowing the E-Book World

Available again in ebook form, the crime classic Stephen King called "one of the greatest American novels of the 20th century", The End of Night, is ready for rediscovery by a new generation of readers.

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Thrift, Schemes & Restlessness Characterize Both Katherine & J.F. Powers’ Writing

"I am not by nature cut out for this life, as it's defined in these parts by the chamber of commerce and our bishop, who is devoted to Christian family living, as everyone knows." This deadpan tone suits J.F. Powers and his conflicted, capitalist, Midwestern, mid-century priests well.

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Marty Beckerman Talks About Love in the Time of JNCO Pants

Marty Beckerman talks about his hilarious new novella, '90s Island, the "infantilizing" nature of nostalgia, and why the truly cool people never got frosted tips.

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Caroline Leavitt at a Crossroads: ‘Is This Tomorrow’

New York Times best-selling author Caroline Leavitt discusses her new novel about a family who must brave the hostile status quo of '50s American suburban life while being as different from their neighbors as possible.

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‘It Begins and Ends With Love’: A Conversation with Trans Activist Jennifer Finney Boylan

Best-selling author and transgender activist Jennifer Finney Boylan discusses her new memoir in a conversation that explores the transformative power of storytelling, the redefinition of family values, and the radical potential of love.

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More Recent Features
//Mixed media
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The Vast Loneliness of 'No Man's Sky'

// Moving Pixels

"You cannot escape yourself in No Man's Sky. There is little to do but analyze the self.

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