Posts by: Charley Locke

I Get My Favorite Short Stories From the CIA

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The Kenyon Review. Mundo Nuevo. The Paris Review.

Check out whether you’ve been unknowingly colluding with secret agents whilst reading your favorite lit mags. Patrick Iber writes, “The CIA became a major player in intellectual life during the Cold War—the closest thing that the US government had to a Ministry of Culture.” (The Rumpus would like to state that we are miffed to be excluded from this list.)

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Hugo and the Sad Puppies

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The Hugo Award is one of the highest honors bestowed upon science fiction, a genre which is (finally) broadening to include a diversity of authors and views. That’s not a good thing, according to many white male writers and fans, who have banded together as the “Sad Puppies” to fight against what they see as affirmative action for women and writers of color who are dominating the nominations for the Hugos.

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Wet with the Tears of a Pedant

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Nearly every page of this book is wet with the tears of a pedant.

Nostalgic for the wordplay of the Republican primary debate? Barton Swaim has got you covered in his memoir detailing the three years he spent as a speechwriter for Mark Sanford, who absconded from his life as governor of South Carolina to visit his mistress in Argentina–but not before he mixed metaphors, made up grammatical rules, and invented verbs.

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Young Black Writers Reflect on #blacklivesmatter

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because I want to not cry because I actually hate crying because none of my tears can offer resurrection none of my poems can offer resurrection none of my image searches can offer resurrection and I want us to stay alive

Khadijah Queen and eleven other young writers of color—Roger Reeves, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Rion Amilcar Scott, Morgan Parker, Kiese Laymon, Danielle Evans, Sarah Labrie, Angela Flournoy, Hope Wabuke, Yahdon Israel, and Metta Sáma—write fiction and nonfiction in reflection on #blacklivesmatter, a year after the death of Michael Brown.

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In Defense of the Book-to-Movie Adaptation

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Why do we keep going to movie adaptations of old classic novels we love? Over at Lit Hub, Sky Friedlander defends the book-to-movie adaptation as bringing new lessons to light for a new set of viewers, writing, “We need to re-tell these stories over and over because each generation sees them in a different way, needs different things from them… Faithfulness to the book is secondary to movement.

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Book Recs from a River-Rafting Joan Didion

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To go with her contribution, Didion had to provide a few sentences about herself. Excavated from the Mademoiselle archives, what she wrote shows a still somewhat green, aspiring writer with a sentimental attachment to home: “Joan spends vacations river-rafting and small-boating in the picture-postcard atmosphere of the Sacramento Valley.” Among her interests, she lists “almost any book every published.”

Over at The New Republic, Laura Marsh reviews The Last Love Song, in which biographer Tracy Daugherty combs through the archives at Mademoiselle, where a 21-year-old Joan Didion worked as an intern.

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Charles Dickens is a Tattle-Tale

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Get ready for the biggest piece of gossip to hit the Victorian litmag scene in 250 years. Lewis Carroll, Wilkie Collins, and Elizabeth Gaskell all wrote anonymously for Charles Dickens’s periodical—but that anonymity may have been short-lived. (Well, sort of.) In a reveal heralded as “the Rosetta Stone of Victorian studies,” a book dealer found a 20-issue set of the magazine with authors’ names inscribed in Dickens’s hand.

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Joseph Conrad’s Thank-You Note to Henry James

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Clothed in the wonderful garment of your prose, they have stood, consoling, by my side under many skies,” Conrad wrote. “I trust that you will consent, by accepting this copy, to augment the precious burden of my gratitude.

UT Austin’s Ransom Center released Project REVEAL, digitizing 25 of its manuscript collections.

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How to Chart a Course Through the Metaphors in Your Mind

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Why do we refer to our minds in terms of seas and cartography, anyway? Find out by consulting your sextant and the first online metaphor map. The chart boasts over 14,000 metaphorical connections, sourced from 4,000,000 lexical data points by a few Scottish researchers who now (presumably) have some excellent new phrases for spinning yarns and embroidering thoughts at dinner parties.

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What You Can Read at the Guantánamo Bay Detainee Library

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Prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay have access to 18,000 books in 18 different languages, including Arabic translations of King Lear, Anna Karenina, and Stephen King thrillers. But books deemed critical of the US government, including Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Noam Chomsky’s Interventions, and various John Grisham novels, are banned.

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Preserving Dostoevsky’s Prose

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What’s one English word to sarcastically communicate Russian cosmopolitan refinement? How would you translate a page-long sentence from Tolstoy, or “the cacophonous competing voices of Dostoevsky”?

Larissa Volokhonsky and Richard Pevear (who have been married for 33 years) have translated over 30 works from Russian to English, beloved by readers worldwide (including Oprah) and praised for communicating the idiosyncrasies and styles of the original works.

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Joan Says Goodbye, Taylor Says Hello

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Andrew Bomback steps into the conversation between Eula Biss and Joan Didion about “Goodbye to All That” and the myth of New York City, bringing along Taylor Swift as his guest. In its author’s privilege and its message of youthful possibility, “Swift’s ‘Welcome to New York’ is far more Didion than Biss,” he writes.

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Like Peeping Over the Edge of the World

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“It’s like peeping over the edge of the world while remembering you’ve left your spectacles on the kitchen table,” she writes of her cruelly paradoxical situation: knowing that death is on its way without knowing when exactly it will arrive.

Jenny Diski has inoperable lung cancer—and the prolific British essayist has chosen to write through it, often addressing her cancer in a “pull-me, push-me” structure alongside the three years she spent as the foster daughter of Doris Lessing.

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Live-Tweeting Grief

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“The challenge of memorializing doesn’t favor professionals,” writes Sean Minogue over at Full Stop. So, how are autobiographical narratives of loss by Karl Ove Knausgaard, Joan Didion, or Paul Auster different from therapeutic journaling? Minogue takes a look at how these authors express the everyday details of living after a loss, and how new forms of written self-expression, like Twitter, shifts the line between personal and public grieving.

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Which Norwegian Author Is Your Favorite Beatle?

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I think of the four elder statesmen of Norwegian letters as a bit like the Beatles: Per Petterson is the solid, always dependable Ringo; Dag Solstad is John, the experimentalist, the ideas man; Karl Ove Knausgaard is Paul, the cute one; and Fosse is George, the quiet one, mystical, spiritual, probably the best craftsman of them all.

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Would You Rather Babysit Cathy Ames or Christine Hargensen?

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What do Yukio Mishima, Tana French, Shirley Jackson, and John Steinbeck have in common?

They’re the masterminds behind a couple of the most evil fictional youngsters of all time, according to a list compiled by British bookstore Abebooks. The list shuns contemporary malevolent characters in favor of the “utterly evil” children of yore, reasoning: “While Draco, Augustus, Violet and Veruca may be distasteful, they are actually quite mild-mannered compared to some of the horrible children literature has to offer.”

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