Posts by: Roxie Pell

Carving the Uncanny Valley

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Any Luddite with half a brain has already begun stockpiling nonperishables for the inevitable moment the robots rise up against us. Over at the Ploughshares blog, Joelle Renstrom recounts how writers were awakened to the threat of artificial intelligence: A certain likeness to humans inspires kinship, but when the line blurs, that kinship turns to […]

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21st Century Magical Realist

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Beyond the obvious fact of when it was written or published, what does it mean for literature to be contemporary? Is a work’s relevance determined by market trends and cultural currents? In her monthly advice column for Electric Literature, Elisa Gabbert allays a writer’s temporally induced anxieties: Magical realism “has been done,” yes, but so […]

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Unstuck in Time

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Despite its uncanny salience in the context of this most recent wave of social injustice and protest, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout was written well before the #BlackLivesMatter movement began. Far from a coincidence, the book’s resonance is a product of the same paradox of time it describes, in which dated social conditions cannot possibly continue […]

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The Hope Whose Death It Announces

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Poetry is defined by a failure to live up to the hype it generates, promising divine transcendence through a medium that is essentially human. This is the paradox Ben Lerner articulates in his dissertation on The Hatred of Poetry. At The New Republic, Ken Chen doesn’t buy it: You get the sense Lerner’s intellectualized peevishness […]

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You’d Prefer Not To

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The Internet has been abuzz with grammatically incorrect chatter since the New York Times recently published an article heralding the end of the period. But Flavorwire’s Jonathon Sturgeon doesn’t expect that little dot to go anywhere anytime soon: Bilefsky’s piece — or any long piece without periods — is like a car without brakes. You […]

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But for Man’s Absence

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Released this May, director Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s 1975 sci-fi novel High-Rise converts the dystopian work into a tableau of striking visuals made all the more seductive by the presence of elegant Internet boyfriend du jour Tom Hiddleston. At Electric Literature, Michael Betancourt analyzes the contrasting versions of masculinity presented in the book and […]

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The Great American Sermon

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After all, the essay, in its American incarnation, is a direct outgrowth of the sermon: argumentative, insistent, not infrequently irritating. Minimalist prose. Maximalist ideas. A long tradition of anti-intellectualism. Adverbs. At the New Yorker, Vinson Cunningham asks what makes an essay American?

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