Posts by: Adam Keller

Walk-In Closets

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We seem to find ourselves, as writers, standing amidst the last century’s discarded tropes of sexual identity. Recently, writers of all sexual permutations have been recycling this narrative architecture; reworking its stones and walls and windows; borrowing and transforming the old, four-square structures of identity into Gehry-like fantasias, curves, and spires.

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Investigating the Network Form

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At the Los Angeles Review Of Books, Mary Pappalardo reviews Patrick Jagoda’s Network Aesthetics, an examination of networked art from Syriana to alternate reality games:

Networked narrative forms—the novel, the film, the television drama—represent and help to create our sense of the network, without which more participatory forms, particularly games that facilitate affective encounters with other actors, could not exist.

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Term Paper of Champions

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At Open Culture, Ayun Halliday introduces Kurt Vonnegut’s final assignment for his Iowa Writer’s Workshop class. Instead of a conventional essay, Vonnegut asks his students to role-play as short story publishers:

Proceed next to the hallucination that you are a minor but useful editor on a good literary magazine not connected with a university.

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Baby Geniuses

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The concepts of genius and IQ have long been instruments of cultural and economic control. For Slate, Dana Goldstein examines how Donald Trump has bought into these ideas:

Trump’s adoration of IQ testing recalls an especially disturbing period in the history of genius: the late 19th and early 20th century, when social scientists attempted to measure and compare people’s intelligence.

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All Bravado, Little Spirit

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For the New Yorker, Vinson Cunningham writes that whatever your thoughts on the Nate Parker controversy, the new film The Birth Of A Nation is best left unseen:

“Twelve Years” and, especially, “Django” promised to widen the expressive possibilities of the slave story—to add to the cultural meanings of the country’s gravest crime.

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Like Tears in Rain

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In a universe slowly sinking into entropy, writing can take the disordered pieces of our experience and fit their edges together into something organized. If the work of a writer is to tease out meaning from the tangled mess of life, many of these algorithms essentially do the opposite, taking meaningful human posts or experiences and reducing them to their barest reportable facts.

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Books You Can Deadlift

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At Lit Hub, Joshua Zadjman talks about Alan Moore’s Jerusalem as the new zenith of the modern doorstopper novel:

What is Jerusalem? It’s an experience you can more easily press on people than explain to them. Moore’s 1,260-page second novel,Jerusalem, will land in bookstores later this month with acclaim, conjecture, and hopefully even a trumpet or two—but it’s likely that only the intrepid will take the plunge.

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Putting the D in PhD

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An anonymous writer at the Guardian has a second career in erotica to fund their academic lifestyle, despite mixed reactions from colleagues:

Colleagues in the arts react with a strange mixture of nervous supportiveness and embarrassed indifference. If I bring up the subject (in private conversations off-campus, naturally), the conversation is swiftly curtailed.

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Dazed And Confused

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The network would indeed generate a lot of wealth, but it would be wealth of the Adam Smith sort—and it would be concentrated in a few hands, not widely spread. The culture that emerged on the network, and that now extends deep into our lives and psyches, is characterised by frenetic production and consumption—smartphones have made media machines of us all—but little real empowerment and even less reflectiveness.

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Macaroni Men

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The seemingly non-sequitur first lines of “Yankee Doodle” sound like they’re about food, but Michael Waters in Atlas Obscura reveals the lyrics’ gender-bending history:

The Oxford Magazine similarly described the macaroni as not belonging to the gender binary: “There is indeed a kind of animal, neither male, nor female, a thing of neuter gender, lately started up among us.

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All That We Could Do with This Emotion

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Writing for the Guardian, novelist Val McDermid disputes the recent study which suggests that “literary” fiction readers are more empathetic than “genre” readers:

There is no doubt that, historically, there was a valid distinction. Nobody would attempt to suggest that there is an equivalence between Agatha Christie and Virginia Woolf.

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