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Kinky Reggae

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Kima Jones chats with Marlon James over at Midnight Breakfast; the two touch on ghost stories, Bob Marley’s reverberations, and the danger in assuming a story’s authenticity:

Some of the things that people think are invented are actually true. It’s also this thing that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talks about with “The Danger of a Single Story,” where we think one person is the sum total of one thing.

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Writing Helps Writers

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Powerful writing might be just as moving for the writer as for the reader. New research is demonstrating that the old advice about writing through your problems might actually be based in science. Researchers in various studies are gauging how writing about situations can help improve them, like students writing essays about the difficulty adjusting to college.

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Notable Los Angeles: 1/26–2/1

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Monday 1/26: Chad Sweeney and Jennifer K. Sweeney read from their new respective works. 4:30 p.m. at the Ide Room at USC.

The Altar Collective release party for Volume VII. Featuring readings by Katelin Wagner, Kris Kidd, Franki Elliot, Christina Schmidt, Jackson Burgess, August Luhrs, Ruth Madievsky, and more.

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Weekend Rumpus Roundup

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First, Grant Snider’s “Inferiority Complex” explores the inner recesses of consciousness.

Then, Louise Fabiani reviews Scarlett Johansson’s scary sci-fi film, Under the Skin, which “weasels its way into your reptilian brain from its first baffling frames.” Director Jonathan Glazer does a nice job of getting the audience on Johansson’s side, even as she beckons unwitting men to their deaths.

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This Week in Short Fiction

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Austin-based indie publisher A Strange Object unleashed a new digital magazine this week called Covered with Fur. The site is an elegant lesson in design, sleek and simple with just two large rectangles to choose from for its weekly offerings, labeled “Fiction” and “Not.” According to their Submissions page, which is currently open, the “Not” category includes nonfiction writings in the form of microessays, essays, or columns about objects including “treatments of found things, repurposings, archival encounters… [also] writing on design or attachment or loss.”

With their first issue, Covered with Fur sets the fiction bar high with Bess Winter’s story, “Are You Running Away?”

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In the Name of Fear

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It’s very hard to imagine a president getting up and talking about how damaging the fear of terrorism has been to us, culturally and politically, and how much it’s horribly undermined us. Looking at torture and all the other things that have been done in the name of counterterrorism, it’s really quite disturbing what we’ve done in the name of our own fear.

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The First (Not-So-Great) American Novel

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He dearly yearns for Harriot as his mistress: “Shall we not,” he asks her, “obey the dictates of nature, rather than confine ourselves to the forced, unnatural rules of—and—and shall the halcyon days of youth slip through our fingers unenjoyed?” (Actually, Harrington says all of this with “the language of the eyes.” Early Americans excelled, you see, at conducting complicated conversations using only their peepers.)

The Paris Review examines The Power of Sympathy: or, the Triumph of Nature, a 226-year-old sentimental book widely considered to be the first American novel.

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Gawker’s Special Projects Editor

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After Racket Teen, the First Look Media startup for which he was working, failed, Alex Pareene joined Gawker, where he holds the “amusingly vague title of ‘Special Projects Editor.’” Here’s his idea, in Spy Magazine-like tradition:

Over the next few weeks, I plan to work closely with site leads, editors and reporters from all the Gawker Media sites to identify the perfect targets — the most obnoxious puffed-up blowhards, sanctimonious poobahs, corrupt gatekeepers, venal officials, and credulous watchdogs in each site’s respective fields — and dream up entertaining ways to embarrass or expose them.

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Song of the Day: “Zombie”

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The genre known as “afrobeat” has a long history, thanks mostly to the visionary multi-instrumentalist Fela Kuti. When the Nigerian composer first came up with the name for his unique sound in the early ’70s, his music was moving thematically from the topic of love to more socially-conscious issues.

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Satirical America

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Has the US turned into a satire of itself? Consider how quickly Congress has gone from championing Freedom Fries to chastising President Obama’s absence from the Paris peace march. Over at the LA Times, David L. Ulin looks at why Americans are choosing irony over satire:

Is it coincidence, then, that the rise of postmodernism in the 1970s overlaps almost exactly the decline of satire?

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