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Bellow’s Back

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Simultaneously divisive and overlooked, Saul Bellow’s work has produced both fervent supporters and detractors while alienating many younger readers. This spring, a new biography by Zachary Leader will bring the late author back into the conversation. Vulture‘s Lee Siegel reflects on the strengths and shortcomings of a writer whose political incorrectness was matched only by his liberating language.

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Notable Los Angeles: 3/23–3/29

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Monday 3/23: When’s the last time you volunteered at 826LA? It’s probably been a while. You should fix that.

Tuesday 3/24: A Night with Robert Crane & Christopher Fryer. 7 p.m. at Book Soup.

Wednesday 3/25: &Now Festival of New Writing — Blast Radius: Writing and the Other Arts.

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Weekend Rumpus Roundup

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In the Saturday Essay, Scott Borchert wonders about the symbiosis of author James Agee and folklorist Harry Smith. Though it is unclear if they met in New York during the 1950s, “their works do converge —in spirit, perhaps, and not chronologically.” The “fever-dream” of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men complements the nightmarish quality of Smith’s landmark folk music compilation.

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Notable NYC: 3/21–3/27

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Saturday 3/21: Phil Klay reads from his National Book Award for Fiction collection Redeployment. He is joined in conversation by Rob Spillman. Brooklyn Public Library, 4 p.m., free.

Rob Crawford, Sabra Embury, Hannah Assadi, Genna Rivieccio, Amanda Killian, Armando Jaramillo Garcia, Stu Watson, and Daniel Adler celebrate opiates.

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The Gender Novels

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Gender transition seems to fascinate just about everyone who hasn’t gone through it, so it makes sense that we get a lot of literary fiction on the subject . . . All these books were penned by cisgender—that is, non-transgender—authors. In that, they join a very twenty-first-century sub-genre: sympathetic novels about transition by people who haven’t transitioned.

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