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Notable NYC: 8/30–9/5

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Monday 9/1: Todd Colby and Adam Fitzgerald read poetry. Fitzgerald’s The Late Parade explores phantom memories. BookCourt, 7 p.m., free.

Tuesday 9/2: Adam Wilson and Justin Taylor, literary best friends, talk about their story collections. Flings (August 2014) is Taylor’s includes a menagerie of unmoored characters struggling to find their place.

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“Funny Women” Art Show

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Near the bottom of every Funny Women piece is the note, “Rumpus original art by Annie Daly.” We believe in combining hilarious content with a strong aesthetic while promoting artists with ovaries. For a year, Annie’s reliably created beautiful illustrations to make women’s writing and jokes prettier.

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Sylvia Plath, Content at the Mall

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Like most of her peers, Plath relished consumerism; on her weekends off in New York, “she went straight to Bloomingdale’s in search of another pair of black pumps.”

Here’s to another reminder that the mythology can obscure the truth. While Plath was probably without a pair of rose-colored glasses, she wasn’t all Eeyor all the time.

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All Are Bad

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We’ve all read at least one: from “Against YA” to “Against Happiness,” essays that promise to dismiss entire abstract concepts using only rhetoric make for great click-bait. In The New Yorker, Ivan Kreilkamp explains why we keep overstating the case:

“Against [X]” is a symptom of a liberal culture’s longing to escape its own strictures; it’s the desire of thoughtful and nuanced people to shed their inhibitions and issue fearsome dicta.

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Entitled Fiction

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At Poets and Writers, Steve Almond offers his opinion on the growing “Problem of Entitlement” —  “a curious arrogance toward published authors” among young writers. Here’s why he thinks that’s the continuing case:

In my own experience, the Problem of Entitlement has gotten worse over the past decade and a half, and for three distinct reasons: first, the growing competitive pressures on aspiring writers; second, the pace and ease of judgment fostered by digital technology; and finally, the insidious cultural tendency of students to think of themselves as customers.

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Win Or Lose, Amazon War Means Change

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No matter how the dispute between publisher Hachette and online mage-retailer Amazon resolves itself, the one thing that can be assured is that the publishing industry is changing. Amazon might hope to accelerate and seize control of the changes through pricing, but the book industry was changing even before Amazon started picking fights, warns The Guardian:

Even before the latest dispute, publishers were thinking about how to reinvent themselves, from developing their own digital content to trying to build a direct relationship with readers by hosting author events and using social media.

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Song of the Day: “What Light”

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Wilco has seen its fair share of adversity. The group, led by songwriter Jeff Tweedy, has picked up and dropped band members at various times between 1994 and 2004. However, its current iteration feels right. That cohesion is evident in the stirring artistic manifesto, “What Light,” from their Grammy-nominated 2007 album, Sky Blue Sky. Over a perfect harmony, Tweedy sings:

If the whole world’s singing your songs
And all of your paintings have been hung
Just remember what was yours is everyone’s from now on
And that’s not wrong or right
And you can struggle with it all you like
You’ll only get uptight
There’s a light
What light

Inside of you

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Distractions and the Art of Creation

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Alexandra Wuest, writing at HTMLGIANT, looks at the distinction between procrastination and the useful distraction that is a necessary part of the creative act:

Somewhere between the initial conception of an idea and the completion of the project exists a murky abyss of abstraction in which the horizon line is hidden–or may not even exist.

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In Search of Inner Voice

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Researches are taking advantage of the Edinburgh International Book Festival to look for the source of authors’ inner voice.  Many writers describe hearing characters’ or narrators’ voices speaking to them. The researchers are looking to establish what the inner voice sounds like and how authors tune into it, reports The Guardian:

Early on in their writing life, there may be little to distinguish the inner voice of the author from the voice of the character.

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Another Station

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When the The New York Times asked for his background, Ben Lerner answered the best he could:

“Suburban-white-kid crime, Columbine High School sort of thing,” he said. “A violence of numbness and identitylessness.”

In the Parul Sehgal’s piece, the author of Leaving the Atocha Station also touches on parenthood, Joan of Arc, and his upcoming novel, “10:04”.

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Word of the Day: Agastopia

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(n.); admiration of a particular part of the body

ALS constitutes progressive imprisonment without parole. First you lose the use of a digit or two; then a limb; then and almost inevitably, all four.

—Tony Judt, Night

The human body is beautiful; this has been an accepted truth throughout the ages and can be observed everywhere in art, literature, science, and even in daily discussion.

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The Future of Libraries

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Librarian Justin Wadland attempts to answer the question “What is the future of libraries?” at the Los Angeles Review of Books by reading three recent books about them. He suggests the future of libraries depends on our relationship with them. He also explains that the question is in no way simple:

Flooded with data as we are, each day brings even more innovations and technologies to help us mine, sort, and generate even more information.

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Notable San Francisco: 8/27–9/2

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Wednesday 8/27: San Francisco Poet Laureate Emeritus Jack Hirschman recently uncovered a book-length poem that’s been lost for more than 40 years, will read from the newly published Viet Arcane. Free, 7 p.m., The Emerald Tablet.

The Berkeley Poetry Slam prepares for The Individual World Poetry Slam, in Phoenix this October; the top eight poets battle to see who will rep the team: Toaster, Leo Bryant, Jaz Sufi, Nazelah, Cam Awkward-Rich, B Deep, Jelal, and Abe Becker.

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Writing Blind

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Writing and revising can be challenging under the best of circumstances, but imaging being unable to see the words on the page. At The Airship Daily, Tammy Ruggles writes about her life as a visually impaired writer:

Before the computer age, the visually impaired could dictate their words to be set down in print or use a stylus to write in braille and have it transcribed, but today’s accessible technology makes writing so easy that you may not realize I used a screen reader, speech recognition software and a magnification program to write this

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The Unteachable Dark

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Writers Rivka Galchen and Zoë Heller, over at The New York Times, discuss the question that will never go away: can writing be taught? They raise valid points about whether teaching writing is fundamentally different from teaching something like science and the rigid way American high schools teach essay writing.

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Straight Outta Gotham

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On August 18, hip-hop and comic book nerds alike convened to celebrate the release of Volume 2 of Ed Piskor’s The Hip-Hop Family Tree, a history of the genre in graphic novel-form. In the Daily Beast, Daniel Genis explains how the competing personae and one-upsmanship among rappers translate so easily to a medium that often depicts superhero fights.

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