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Keep Failing

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Don’t let that stack of rejection letters get you down. For writers of all kinds—would-be, struggling, under-appreciated, even critically acclaimed—failure is part of the job description. At the New York Times, Stephen Marche describes a writing profession riddled with disappointment and missed connections, from the ever-frustrating publishing world to a reader’s power of interpretation.

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The Neverending Story

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For years, film buffs have been devouring companion material to the original works that captured their interest—deleted scenes, commentary, bloopers, most eagerly that much-loved paean to auteurism, the director’s cut. To accept this practice is to acknowledge the impossibility of artistic perfection; as the saying goes, “art is never finished, only abandoned.” The New Republic wonders why the literary world is so hesitant to make the same admission.

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Honest Reviews, Better Literature

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Good literature demands strong criticism, but today’s culture of niceness has limited critics. Lee Klein, writing in 3:AM Magazine, points out that writers’ interest in receiving positive feedback often leads them to forgo standards and slant reviews positively:

Literary citizenship is about buying books, subscribing to lit mags, going to readings.

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Meet Our New Rumpus Essays Editor!

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We’re beyond bummed to let you know that Roxane Gay is leaving the Rumpus to focus on other endeavors (like her two new books, the recent novel An Untamed State and the imminently forthcoming essay collection Bad Feminist). Roxane is as much a part of the site as anyone, and we hope she won’t be stranger around here.

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Weekend Rumpus Roundup

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In the Sunday Interview, Anna March talks with Robin Black about her debut novel, Life Drawing. Black—who also received acclaim for her short story collection, If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This—begins by discussing her approach to writing character.

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And the Winner of Best Premise Award Goes to…

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Debuting what is surely one of the longer titles in literary history, Bethany Billman has published a piece called, “Lost Scenes from Generic Hipster Indie Romance Films Found in 2076 During a Museum Restoration of an Old MacBook Air and Subsequently Adapted for the Stage During Heritage Week at a Camp for 7th and 8th Graders Later That Summer.” It may not tell us much about 2076, but we are always grateful for the chance to refine our definition of “hipster.

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Disappearing Act

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Invisibility has a long literary history, from science fiction, like in H.G. Wells’s Invisible Man, to fantasy, like in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Often, the difference is between methodology and motive. Wells focused on scientific accuracy to illustrate “the messy outcome of this collision between science and myth.” Tolkien employs invisibility as metaphor; the magic behind it is unimportant.

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Think (and Think Some More) Before You Speak

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Notably, there are a few verbal tics that we mistakenly think index insecurity, even though they don’t. These (mostly feminine) quirks—uptalk, vocal fry—are often subtle expressions of power, innovativeness, or upward mobility. In fact, Adam Gopnik recently wrote about how verbal fillers like “um” and “you know” underscore a speaker’s conscientiousness, her sensitivity to the details she must, for reasons of economy, leave unsaid.

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This Week in Short Fiction

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Let’s dedicate this week to the publications, editors, and benevolent marketing gurus who unleashed a whole bunch of quality FREE short fiction to us. Under the shadow of the FCC’s impending decision as to whether or not net neutrality will continue, these all-you-can-read buffets taste even sweeter.

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Ray Rice and Domestic Abuse: A Rumpus Roundup

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In February, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocked out his fiancée at Atlantic City’s Revel Casino. He was caught dragging her limp body out of the elevator. They later married.

Domestic violence is so common in the United States—every 9 seconds a woman is assaulted—it rarely makes headlines.

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Ulysses: The Video Game

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The game is currently in the development and crowdfunding stage, but it already looks pretty interesting, even psychedelic. Its title, In Ulysses: Proteus, comes from the chapter of the novel that it tackles. In it, Dedalus wanders across a desolate beach, closes his eyes, and ponders the shifting nature of reality and the disconnect between his inner self and the external world.

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