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. In the Boston Review, Stacey […]

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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 […]

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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. Take […]

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Leopard Print

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I couldn’t believe there could be a famous book that was so radically unsatisfying. I remember thinking, how can he even be a famous author if he fucks you over this badly? It just seemed like a disaster. At the Atlantic, Jonathan Lethem writes about discovering Franz Kafka as a teenager. Later, Kafka’s ‘leopards’ aphorism would influence […]

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Engdahl’s Game

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Another year, another Nobel Prize in Literature not given to Don DeLillo. At The New Republic, Alex Shephard argues that DeLillo should have been a contender: …of all the leading American Nobel candidates, DeLillo is a writer of the moment. In an essay published three months after the September 11 attacks, Don DeLillo wrote that the problem […]

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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 […]

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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. Parker, though, works within […]

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One More Time

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At The Millions, Shivani Radhakrishnan reviews Mauro Javier Cardenas’s novel The Revolutionaries Try Again, which takes a Soviet Montage-esque approach to budding and dissipating revolutionary impulses: You’re never directly informed about what counts as revolution and who in particular is trying to achieve it. Instead, The Revolutionaries Try Again dissects a decade of Ecuadorian austerity […]

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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 […]

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Crying on Cue

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While it sounds pretty weird, this was standard practice back in the day. According to Patrick Miller in his article “Music and the Silent Film,” Hollywood director D.W. Griffith enlisted a brass band to encourage extras during the battle sequences of his 1916 three-and-a-half-hour epic, Intolerance. Fellow director King Vidor often relied on opera recordings to get […]

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So Woke, Steinbae

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At Timeline, Matt Reimann finds a predecessor to the modern “woke apology” in John Steinbeck’s remarks on his novel Tortilla Flat: Steinbeck’s plea here so closely mirrors the structure of the modern political correctness apology, he may well have invented the template. First, he asserts his sympathy and allegiance to his subject, then defends why […]

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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 […]

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Cold Shoulders

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For Film Comment, Shonni Enelow discusses the restrained acting style present in many mainstream American films and the anxieties it reveals about emotional expression:  We can see the same kind of emotional retrenchment and wariness in a number of performances by the most popular young actors of the last several years. We could look to Rooney Mara, Michael […]

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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. I don’t know if this is […]

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Run the WorldCon

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At the Atlantic, Vann R. Newkirk interviews Hugo-winner N.K. Jemisin about her novel The Fifth Season and the hardline conservatives who boycotted it: It’s the same sort of reactionary pushback that is generally by a relatively small number of very loud people. They’re loud enough that they’re able to convince you that the world really isn’t […]

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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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Cook the Books

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Cook’s portraits are usually accompanied by texts distilled from interviews she conducts with her subjects (afterward, she says, because she prefers the shoot itself to remain as meditative as possible). This provides her, and her audience, with a verbal layer of insight not normally accessible to photographers. In the Los Angeles Review Of Books, Michael Kurcfeld […]

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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. (Let’s face it, Woolf couldn’t plot for toffee.) […]

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Fappetizers

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When does food porn become a problem? For The Millions, Davey Davis looks at the spread of the pornographic sensibility to Instagram cuisine: The cumshot is replicated in Instagram food porn, not with the actual consumption of the food but rather its literal destruction by human hands. With these hands, croissants are torn apart, sandwiches split […]

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The Chosen One

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Colson Whitehead’s new novel, The Underground Railroad, was announced as an Oprah’s Book Club selection on the day of its release. Speaking to Michelle Dean in the Guardian, Whitehead discusses his reaction to the news:  “I called her back and she said: ‘Oprah.’ I said: ‘Shut the front door,’ because I didn’t want to curse. She said: […]

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