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Notable NYC: 5/28–6/3

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Saturday 5/28: Mike Edison reads You Are a Complete Disappointment, a memoir of his triumphant failures. BookCourt, 7 p.m., free.

Bhanu Kapil and Melissa Buzzeo join the Segue series. Zinc Bar, 4:30 p.m., $5.

Candice Lee, Sam Trombly, Karolena Theresa, Paris Roman, Justin Higgins, Trinity Tibe, Marie Faustin, Rebecca Vigil, Courtney Marie, Kaleef Robertson, April Levy, Jordan Morton, Ty Douglas, Sydnee Washington, Jessica Hale, Katharyn Howd Machan, Carla DeMello, Adrian Moens, Marcus Jade, Samira Gibson, and Brandon Fisette join the Say Yes series.

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What’s in a Name?

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If there are indeed an infinite number of universes, it’s nice to think there might be one where all of the books we have come to know bear their original, author-intended titles. For the Paris Review, Tony Tulathimutte pulls back the curtain on the process of book naming to reveal that the title we see is often not given by the author, but generated by a marketing team with a very particular set of conventions and concerns:

The history of writers fighting for their book titles is extensive and bloody; so powerful is the publisher’s veto that not even Toni Morrison, fresh off her Nobel win, got to keep her preferred title for Paradise, which was War.

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Rabid Puppies Butt Invasion

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The Rabid Puppies, an MRA group trying to overthrow the “progressive conspiracy” poisoning the Hugo Awards for the second year in a row, have continued their fearless activism by nominating Chuck Tingle’s Space Raptor Butt Invasion for Best Novelette. Tingle, author of erotic novelettes such as Unicorn Butt Cops: Beach Patrol and Glazed By The Gay Living Donuts, has responded with the most vicious counter-trolling in Internet history.

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This Week in Short Fiction

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Thomas Pierce made a name for himself as a talented spinner of strange stories with his debut collection Hall of Small Mammals, and in a new story at The Masters Review, Pierce crafts another weird and wonderful tale—and this time it’s written entirely in questions.

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Women Shouldn’t Stop Saying ‘Sorry’

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At The Establishment, Amelia Shroyer pushes back against the idea that women must self-police their language in order to sound more ‘professional’ (read: like men):

Society has always valued the words of men more than those of women, to the point that men have been credited for discoveries or milestones actually reached by women, and that women have published their work under male pseudonyms just so people would engage with it.

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Waiting for Wallace

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Despite its “near-canonical” status in America, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest is taking its sweet time in the translation process. So far, it has only been translated into five other languages. At Lit Hub, Scott Esposito spoke to writers and translators to get a feel for how non-English-speaking readers have received Wallace’s opus.

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Gimme Gimme JSTOR

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The question of access continues to plague the academic community—if academia is truly about knowledge and discovery, why are there still so many barriers to the unfettered sharing of information? The architects of digital “pirate libraries” around the world are trying to resolve that contradiction, violating copyright laws to bring expensive scholarly materials to the researchers (and data-hungry laypeople) who need them.

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In Favor of Reading the Literary Canon

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The canon is what it is, and anyone who wishes to understand how it continues to flow forward needs to learn to swim around in it.

Responding to Yale students’ protesting the English department’s course requirements, Slate’s Katy Waldman argues that English majors should still have to read the “sexist, racist, colonialist, and totally gross” canon of English literature, in addition to a broader range of perspectives.

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Probing into the Space Between

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At the New York Times, Karl Ove Knausgaard describes how Joyce’s Portrait included him in literature’s potential in a way that Ulysses didn’t: 

In “Portrait,” Joyce ventures inside that part of our identity for which no language yet exists, probing into the space between what belongs to the individual alone and what is ours together, exploring the shifts of mind, the currents of our moods and feelings as they flow blindly this way and that, and mapping the unarticulated, more or less salient presence of the soul, that part of our inner being that rises when we are enthused and falls when we are afraid or despairing.

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The Universal Truth of the Body

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At Guernica, Jennifer Sears talks to Mary Gaitskill about her recent novel, The Mare, emotional accessibility, love that crosses social norms, and the challenges—technical and empathic—of developing a characters very different from herself. Gaitksill credits the body, her own, for both truth and compulsion:

My head will talk to itself all day and all night if I let it.

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American Writers on Donald Trump

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American writers have issued a statement on Donald Trump’s candidacy for the Presidency of the United States. They are asking writers across the country to sign a petition signifying their agreement with the statement, which begins:

Because, as writers, we are particularly aware of the many ways that language can be abused in the name of power;

And goes on to address many concerns Americans share about a potential Trump presidency.

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Lost in Translation

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There is such a stark cognitive dissonance at present—Black writers winning prestigious literary awards and facing watermelon jokes in the same moment, White editors wanting racial diversity while still publishing racist poems.

With an introduction by new Editor-in-Chief Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, former contributing editor Casey Rocheteau dissects and describes what went wrong with “white peoples’ best intentions for diversity at The Offing,” at The Offing.

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Coming of Age in New York City

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Over at Guernica, Kyle Lucia Wu talks with Stephanie Danler about her new novel, Sweetbitter, and how Danler’s personal experiences as a young woman living in New York City and working in a restaurant overlap with those of her protagonist:

There is this moment when you cross the bridge or you land at JFK where you’re starting over from zero.

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Where Books Meet Their Ends

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For the Guardian, Sam Jordison draws parallels between Don DeLillo’s previous novels (White Noise and Omega) and his most recent novel, Zero K:

In Point Omega, we’re told: “The true life is not reducible to words spoken or written, not by anyone, ever.” In White Noise, meanwhile, Jack Gladney already feels like he is the false character following his name around.

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Notable San Francisco: 5/25–6/1

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Wednesday 5/25: Vietnamese-American writer Andrew Lam (Birds of Paradise Lost) is the son of a South Vietnamese general who emigrated to the US after the fall of Saigon. Lam was featured in the PBS documentary My Journey Home in which three immigrant American writers were followed as they paid visits to their ancestral homelands.

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Imagining the Past

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Over at the New Yorker, Lucy Ives writes about how some recent works of fiction challenge conventional definitions of historical fiction by “offer[ing] a past of competing perspectives, of multiple voices.” Citing works by Danielle Dutton, Marlon James, and John Keene, Ives notes:

These fictions do not focus on fact but on fact’s record, the media by which we have any historical knowledge at all.

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