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Lear’s Metrical Madness

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As part as the Shakespeare on Tor series, Brian Stavely brings us on a quick tour of King Lear’s descent into madness, as evidenced by a careful metrical reading of five speeches. Following the aging monarch through his perfectly-pentametered Latinate invocations of stately power, all the way down to the chaotic exclamations of a man in shambles, Stavely makes quick work of Lear.

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Reviewing the Absurd

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Wired is launching a book review section—of absurd self-published titles. Jason Kehe will in fact be judging books by their cover, selecting the books he reviews for the regular column by browsing the blog Kindle Cover Disasters. The first title in the series is Moira, The Zorzen War, The Divided Worlds Book 3:

If you’re confused, Moira probably is too.

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Impending Death of a Dictionary

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Much like the parochial vocabulary it strives to catalogue, the Dictionary of American Regional English is in danger of extinction. A stopgap crowdfunding campaign is currently open to support the project in the short term, but the long-term forecast for the entity protecting such gems as “flumadiddle” (nonsense), “slippery jims” (pickles), and “rantum scooting” (going out with no definite destination) is grim.

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The Neverending Story

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Did Harry Potter turn us into serial readers? Alexander Chee suggests J.K. Rowling and Karl Ove Knausgaard aren’t all that different:

We are all after that word-lust, the novel that makes us want to read it as quickly as possible, and when we find it, we experience the paradoxical desire to stay inside the world the writer has created—which is impossible if we read quickly, unless there’s a sequel.

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The Dystopian Present

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For the Guardian, Megan Quibell argues that climate change has changed dystopian fiction, as many recent dystopian works rely on a “catalyst” that stems from “the destruction of the environment.” The result is a series of books that “hammers home” the reality of climate change, which is “not something for the distant future.”

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Curating Life

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You might say that our blog offers curated literary articles. That might sound pretentious, but not nearly as pretentious as a curated salad, a curated college application, or a curated wine list. The Guardian takes a look at the use, overuse, and history of curation:

The idea of the contemporary curator originates with the conceptual art movement of the 1960s.

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Too Many Books

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…it’s hard not to feel that we are in an era of massive overproduction. Just when we were already overwhelmed with paper books, often setting them aside after only a few pages in anxious search of something more satisfying, along came the Internet and the e-book so that, wonderfully, we now have access to hundreds of thousands of contemporary novels and poems from this very space into which I am writing.

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Notable Los Angeles: 4/20–4/26

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Monday 4/20: Los Angeles LGBT Center and Book Soup presents Michelangelo Signorile in conversation with Alan Acosta, Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, about Signorile’s latest book, It’s Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, and Winning True Equality.

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That Sounds About Right

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The Internet loves correcting other people’s grammar. But you’re your grammar mistakes are often the result of how the brain functions rather than ignorance, cognitive scientists have learned. The Washington Post reports that the reason we often end up with homophone errors is that the brain double checks our writing with the way a word sounds, leading to common errors:

The brain doesn’t always consult a word’s sound, but studies have shown that it frequently falls back on it, and sound tells us nothing about the difference between “you’re” and “your.” Research on typing errors reveals that sound creates even odder mistakes, such as people writing “28” when they mean to type “20A.” It’s no wonder that people who know better will routinely confound closer pairings such as “it’s” and “its” or “know” and “no.”

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