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Posts by: Kevin Nolan

City of Angels

“City of Angels,” by Christa Wolf

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City of Angels or, The Overcoat of Dr. Freud—the patently autobiographical final novel by Christa Wolf—begins in 1992 with a passport to a country that no longer exists, East Germany. After arriving at Los Angeles International Airport, the narrator Christa Wolf’s documents are scrutinized by an immigration official.

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E.L. Doctorow on John Leonard

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“There was something of a religious about John Leonard, however much of a principled skeptic he may have been. With his pale complexion, his round eyeglasses, there was a translucence to him such as is given to the spiritually employed. It was as if he had been assigned, somewhere off the earth, to take note of writers and to testify to their value, and was, willy-nilly, a patron saint of the writing trade, of the story-makers, of the grub street international bunch of us.”

—E.L.

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Literary Knuckleballer

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Baseball’s spring training—really winter training—seems pretty superfluous these days. Most players employ personal training staffs, stay in top shape year-round, and hone their skills relentlessly with the aid of the most advanced technologies available.

Yet still they arrive at camp for a month and a half of training and exhibition games each February, all of which could likely be cut down to a couple of weeks at most, with a review of fundamentals and the necessary player cuts and reassignments.

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Adam Purple’s Garden of Eden

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“I first met Adam Purple in 1978, when journalist Norman Green and I did a story about him for New York Magazine,” says photographer Harvey Wang, in an interview with Vanishing New York. “I found [Adam] to be one of the most intelligent and interesting people I had ever met, and though I didn’t understand half the things he was talking about, I continued to visit him over the years.”

For more than a decade of his life, Adam Purple built and maintained The Garden of Eden, an Earthworks installation that existed on Eldridge Street from 1975 until 1986, when it was destroyed by New York City to make way for a housing project.

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The Windmills of Old New Amsterdam

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Fourth Avenue in Manhattan deserves an epitaph, bookseller Walter Goldwater told The New York Times in 1981, for a story about the neighborhood that was then still known as Book Row.

“As a book center, the street is gone,” he was quoted as saying.

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George Orwell’s 1940

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For more than two years now the Orwell Prize has been blogging George Orwell’s diaries, in real time, seventy years to the day that each entry was originally penned. They are now halfway through their project.

The posts begin in 1938, when Orwell traveled to Morocco in order to recuperate from illness, and the online publication will end in 2012—or 1942, as it were, in the midst of chaos, the world still at war.

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Latest on the Digital Public Library of America

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“There is great promise in the digital future for libraries,” says John Palfrey, Henry N. Ess III Professor of Law and Vice Dean of Library and Information Resources at Harvard Law School, “but we need to work in coordinated fashion across many institutions to shape it in a way that is in the public interest.

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Steal This Blog Post

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“In a recent New York Magazine article about Frey’s new fiction factory, Frey is quoted saying that documentary is ‘a thesis on truth that hasn’t been proven yet’ and that he ‘should have never fucking apologized’ to Oprah. Many would agree with him.

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Strange Powers

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It has been eleven years since The Magnetic Fields released the three-album set 69 Love Songs—with its funny-sad, sarcastic, satirical songs about, well, love songs.

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