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Song of the Day: “Mickey Mouse Boarding House”

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Mardi Gras may have been last week, but the good times keep on rolling. New Orleans-based soul artist Walter “Wolfman” Washington knows a thing or two about good times—in his good-humored single “Mickey Mouse Boarding House,” the silky R&B crooner complains about his lodgings in the funkiest way possible.

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By Any Memes Necessary

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The long-awaited release of The Autobiography of Malcolm X in ebook format is on track for May of this year, to commemorate what would have been the activist’s 90th birthday. The print edition has been available from Ballantine, an imprint of Penguin Random House, for some time; the author’s estate is spearheading the digital publication in keeping with his principles, according to attorney L.

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Word of the Day: Agacerie

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(n.); allurement, enticement, coquetry; flirtation; from the French agacer (“to tease”)

Fictional characters – unlike the messy organisms from which they derive – float free from the sordid contingencies of the body, because, no matter how convincingly they’re portrayed as being embodied, the medium within which they operate is, self-evidently, a mental one.

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Neruda Conspiracy Laid to Rest

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The investigatory saga following an accusation of foul play in the death of poet Pablo Neruda appears to be drawing to a close, thanks to a Chilean judge’s ruling. Neruda’s remains were exhumed in 2013, in the hopes of discovering whether his death was truly the result of his cancer, or the product of a politically motivated assassination by poison.

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The FBI’s James Baldwin Obsession

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Writing for Publishers Weekly, William J. Maxwell examines the 1,884-page FBI file on James Baldwin—the longest on record—as part of his effort to obtain surveillance information on African American authors through the Freedom of Information Act. Along with reports on literary giants like Lorraine Hansberry and Amiri Baraka, Baldwin’s file reveals a complex relationship between Hoover’s office and the authors, characterized by intermittent respect for the literary work and a healthy fear of the writers’ standing as leaders of the black community.

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The End Has a Start

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I wasn’t sure that it was elegant, or even grammatically sound, but I did know it was just how my narrator—who spends the novel negotiating issues of privacy and voyeurism—would want the book to end. Grammatical or not, it was my last line, and I was sticking to it.

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Agatha Christie Was a Good Pen Pal

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Agatha Christie was never shy to reply to her fan mail, and now the notable crime writer’s letters will be collected and published in celebration of her 125th birthday. The collection will not only feature Christie’s letters, but also the original fan mail, including correspondences with a Polish woman who told Christie that her novel The Man in the Brown Suit helped her to survive German labor camps during the second world war:

“I read and reread (it) so often that I almost knew it by heart,” she wrote.

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So You Think You Can Write?

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A recent poll shows that the majority of Brits would choose the writing life as their ideal career. At the Guardian, Tim Lott isn’t sure they could handle it:

To master dialogue, description, subtext, plot, structure, character, time, point of view, beginnings, endings, theme and much besides is a Herculean labour, not made more appealing by the fact that you always—always—fail.

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Stop Worrying About What Comes Next

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At The MillionsJonathan Russell Clark analyzes several last sentences from well-known novels by Hemingway, Tolstoy, Morrison, and Roth. He pays particular attention to the craftsmanship necessary to write these sentences, and considers how last sentences work to reinforce larger themes within a novel:

For writers, the last sentences aren’t about reader responsibility at all — it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to stop worrying about what comes next, because nothing does.

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Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Forgetful Historian

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Another Sherlock Holmes story has been discovered hidden away in an attic. Fifty years ago, Walter Elliot had been given a 1904 story collection containing the 1,300-word Holmes tale. The 80-year-old historian recently rediscovered the book containing the story, “Sherlock Holmes: Discovering the Border Burghs and, by deduction, the Brig Bazaar.” Its not the first time a lost Sherlock Holmes manuscript has reappeared, and though there may not be any more stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the detective will live on in stories written by others—last year a judge ruled that the character has transitioned to the public domain.

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