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This Week in Short Fiction

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When you think of romance, you probably think Romeo and Juliet, Pride and Prejudice, Gone With the Wind, Wuthering Heights—or anything by Nicholas Sparks if you’re into more modern fare. These famous love stories, spread across centuries, have one thing in common: they’re all about heterosexual couples.

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Building a Black Literary Movement

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The New York Times Magazine profiles editor Chris Jackson and how he’s building a literary movement for writers of color:

‘‘The great tradition of black art, generally,’’ he started again, ‘‘is the ability—unlike American art in general—to tell the truth. Because it was formed around the great American poison, the thing that poisoned American consciousness and behavior: racism.

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Hating Your Own Book Trailer

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Slate is on the case, looking at why so many book trailers are self-loathing:

Behold Jonathan Franzen, opening his book trailer for Freedom with the words: “This might be a good place for me to register my profound discomfort at having to make videos like this.” Behold Slate editor Gabriel Roth, who transformed the trailer for his novel The Unknowns into a comment on the existential futility of book trailers.

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Notable Portland: 2/4–2/10

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Thursday 2/4: Tell It Slant and Late Night Library present a night of the Strange and Fantastic, featuring magical realism readings by Anna Doogan, Marjorie Sandor, and visiting author Kelly Luce. Alberta Street Pub, 7 p.m., free.

Portland’s new literary journal The Timberline Review celebrates its latest edition release party with a reading, including some of this issue’s contributors Kim Stafford, Jeanne Krinsley, Gina Ochsner, Jack Estes, Wayne Scott, Jennifer Dorner, and Julie Young.

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That’s Racist

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As much as we cherish the books from our childhood, there is no denying that some of the stories are just a little (or a lot) racist. But how do we reconcile this truth?

 They were the feckless prisoners of their times, and much as we’d like for people in the past to share our enlightenment, especially people we otherwise admire, it’s just not going to happen in an unfortunate number of cases.

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Joyce’s Forgotten Rival

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For The Millions, Austin Ratner documents the relationship between the “forgotten” Irish writer James Stephens and the famed James Joyce. Despite starting as literary rivals, Joyce wanted Stephens to finish Finnegans Wake if he ever lost his eyesight. In addition, the essay examines Stephens’s influence on other well-known Irish writers, including Seán O’Casey and Eugene O’Neill.

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Take a Closer Look

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A survey by book publisher Lee & Low showed that 78 percent of the publishing workforce is composed of straight white women, causing headlines about how women run publishing. But that’s not the whole story:

Yet these attention grabbers glazed over one of the more subtle aspects of the data, which shows that while the industry employs far more women overall, the difference is smaller at the executive level, with “approximately 40% of executives and board members identifying as men or cis-men.” As the compilers of the DBS report note: “This reflects the reality that males still ascend to positions of power more oven, even in female-dominated industries.”

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The Way We Were

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Things in my own life that make me want to write about them are often things that are unresolved. And I use writing to figure them out.

Memoirists Meredith Maran, Dani Shapiro, Ayelet Waldman, Kate Christensen, and Nick Flynn speak in a YouTube video about why they write about their own lives, and the best/worst things that happened to them as a result of writing a memoir.

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Old Habits

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Unplugging is bound to free up some time; spending that time is another matter. After reading Mindful Tech, David M. Levy’s book about how and why we use devices, Matthew J.X. Malady decided to give the simple life a try:

I ran to the store for things we didn’t really need, and watered plants that I previously hadn’t noticed existed.

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