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Are You the Woman Reader?

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It’s not that the books that get someone into the “serious reader” club are all or even mostly by men these days. But the books that get you kicked out of the club are almost exclusively written by women.

Hannah Engler writes for Book Riot on “women’s literature” and the still-unevolved stereotype of the Woman Reader.

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Baldwin’s Paradoxes and Epithets

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Race was—is—the fundamental American issue, underlying not only all matters of public policy (economic inequality, criminal justice, housing, education) but the very psyche of the nation.

Nathaniel Rich, for the New York Review of Books, writes a loving tribute to and overview of the works of James Baldwin: the intellectual as impossible to be pinned down, writing transcendently about the present.

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Weekend Rumpus Roundup

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First, we close out National Poetry Month with Sophie Klahr breaking down literary conventions in “Slant,” and Sandra Simonds offering two powerful poems about sexuality and shame.

Meanwhile, Brandon Hicks illustrates what he has learned from famous author’s photos.

Then, in the Saturday Interview with Carol Edelman Warrior, poet and playwright Storme Webber says that “we’re all traveling on this Earth.

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The Self as a Cultural Artifact

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[Memoir] comes alive at the fissures of its coherency: when a narrator is struggling to hold the self together in a text—for the reader’s sake if not also her own.

Scott F. Parker met up with Maggie Nelson at AWP to talk about her writing, her sudden popularity, memoir (or life writing), autotheory, and Buddhism for The Believer’s interview series, Stories of Self—complete with illustrations by Nelson’s partner, Harry Dodge.

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Noir Literature as Protest Literature

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With its trope of the hard-boiled, male detective, noir literature has historically had an inclusion problem. At Electric Literature, Nicholas Seeley discusses its burgeoning revival as protest literature against injustice:

Today it has a second chance—assuming it continues to draw in and cultivate new and challenging voices.

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This Week of Short Fiction

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New motherhood: it’s common but totally strange, completely natural yet weirdly alien, a beautiful miracle and absolutely disgusting. It can also have some strong effects on a woman’s perception of self and identity, as Helen Phillips (The Beautiful Bureaucrat) explores brilliantly in her story “The Doppelgängers,” chosen by Lauren Groff at Recommended Reading this week.

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IBD

Independent Bookstore Day: Q&A with Lauren Groff

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Tomorrow, Independent Bookstore Day will mark its second year of celebrating independent bookstores nationwide, with literary parties around the country. In cities and towns throughout the country, participating independent bookstores will host unique literary parties, including readings, raffles, scavenger hunts, story times, music, food trucks, and literary trivia.

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When Life Gives Critics Lemons

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In the New Yorker, Richard Brody laments how little coverage there is of independent film in mainstream media. If film culture is to change for the better, he argues, critics need to step out of their comfort zone and focus less on wide releases:

It’s up to critics and editors to acknowledge what was already clear in 1969—the realm of movies, their substance and their distribution, has changed drastically, and the practice of criticism needs to catch up with it.

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If Hillary Clinton Wrote a Dystopian YA Novel

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There was no denying it, Athena was lost. She had walked the road to Deasey Castle for many years, but now, no matter what road she took, the glorious castle spires were no closer.

Escape the never-ending political sideshow for some fun fictional role-playing and follow Athena Kindness, warrior and opportunistic people-pleaser, through selections of her tumultuous journey to the castle on top of the hill, written by Wayne Gladstone over at McSweeney’s.

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Poetry as Peace Work

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Over at Los Angeles Review of Books, Leah Mirakhor engages poet Robin Coste Lewis, 2015 National Book Award winner of Voyage of the Sable Venus, in deep and generous conversation about writing and life. Coste Lewis remembers Audre Lorde as a poet who “refused to condescend to her readers,” and who was a great inspiration to Coste Lewis’s seventeen-year-old self. 

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