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What You Can Read at the Guantánamo Bay Detainee Library

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Prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay have access to 18,000 books in 18 different languages, including Arabic translations of King Lear, Anna Karenina, and Stephen King thrillers. But books deemed critical of the US government, including Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Noam Chomsky’s Interventions, and various John Grisham novels, are banned.

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That Looks Disgusting

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Lilian Min writes for The Toast about the tangled politics of ugly food:

I grew up in a household that was comfortable with farts, burps, intense smells, and food that facilitated all of the above. My dad would eat raw garlic and chase my sister and me around the kitchen, and then the whole family would sit down for dinner rich in not just garlic, but also ginger, hoisin sauce, black vinegar, sesame oil, and a thousand other strong scents and flavors.

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Figure Drawing, Or, The Posthumous Persona Of David Foster Wallace

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On the eve of a new biopic and on the long tail of posthumous publishing and popularization—Christian Lorentzen takes a long, compassionate, critical look at David Foster Wallace and on the ways in which a prolific writer gets written into the public memory—as intellectual behemoth, creative luminary, contemptuous snob, major depressive, motivational speaker:

A writer who courted contradiction and paradox, who could come on as a curmudgeon and a scold, who emerged from an avant-garde tradition and never retreated into conventional realism, he has been reduced to a wisdom-dispensing sage on the one hand and shorthand for the Writer As Tortured Soul on the other.

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For Sale: Nick Carraway’s House

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The house appears to blend in with its landscape, almost disappear beside canopy trees until it’s in danger of becoming an afterthought. There is nothing particularly regal about it. It’s the type of place one of Fitzgerald’s characters would have driven by and forgotten about by the time his motorcar rounded the next bend, or never noticed at all.

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Choose Your Own Cover Art

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It’s well-known by the literary crowd that authors don’t get to choose the artwork for their book covers. Except when they do, as in the case of Naomi Jackson, author of The Star Side of Bird Hill, who convinced her publisher to use Sheena Rose’s painting “Too Much Makeup” as her cover:

I shrieked with joy when I saw the galleys of The Star Side of Bird Hill earlier this year.

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Word of the Day: Oblivescence

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(n.); the process of forgetting;

“Curiously enough, one cannot read a book: one can only reread it. When we read a book for the first time, the very process of laboriously moving our eyes from left to right, line after line, page after page, this complicated physical work upon the book, the very process of learning in terms of space and time what the book is about, this stands between us and artistic appreciation.”

–Vladmir Nabokov, from “Good Readers and Good Writers”

This week, Tim Parks takes us on a wonderfully meditative reflection on something we tend, as readers, to take for granted: the physical act of moving one’s eyes across the page, of engaging with words, and—unavoidably—forgetting them.

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The Laws of War

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Government documents aren’t exactly page-turners, making hefty tombs like the 74,000 page tax code and the 33,000 page Obamacare law unlikely additions to any summer beach reading lists. The 1,200 page Department of Defense Law of War Manual might seem comparatively short, until you realize its a document that defines every military procedure from the very basic rules of conduct to the limits of torture.

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Sharing the Spotlight

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The campaign to get a woman on an American paper bill has been long, but even with the decision to reissue the ten-dollar bill in 2020, advocates aren’t completely satisfied:

This decision, announced last week by Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew, has been met with considerable puzzlement from those who wonder why we would demote Hamilton, the founder of our financial system, instead of Andrew Jackson, who was the architect of the Trail of Tears, an opponent of central banking, and the target of the grassroots campaign to get a woman on the twenty-dollar bill, led by the group Women on 20s.

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Do It Like They Do on The Discovery Channel

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Even the animal kingdom is more progressive than the US. Penguins have been forming same-sex romantic relationships for as long as penguins have existed, and none of their compatriots ever batted a wing. The Dodo looks back at some of the most “aww”-inducing penguin pairs, because why not celebrate love with adorable pictures of birds?

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Playing a Book

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When I got older, I discovered that this sense of play wasn’t limited to the young. There were plenty of adults out there writing radically experimental books formally guided by the notion that a book could be more than a book—it could be a vexing puzzle, a winding labyrinth, a stubborn gauntlet, a spooky carnival full of creaky rides, even a sandbox.

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