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Lost Daughter

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The NYRB gives a profile of Elena Ferrante and her Naples novels, but the only thing more alluring than the author’s anonymity is the prose itself:

There is a devastating exchange in The Story of a New Name, the second of three—soon to be four—books in Elena Ferrante’s masterful Naples novels, in which Lila, one of the two main characters, runs into her former schoolteacher, Maestra Oliviero, on the street.

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Weekend Rumpus Roundup

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First, say hello to our new Saturday media editor, Arielle Bernstein!

Then, in “All The World’s A Stage,” Grant Snider neatly illustrates our inner performer.

Poet Kent Shaw marvels at the “glandular muscularity” of water as a theme in Harmony Holiday’s dual book, A Famous Blues/Go Find Your Father.

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The Rise and Fall of Alt Lit

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The Alt Lit community brought together a disparate group of writers and poets from the sorts of backgrounds often ignored by mainstream literary fiction, leveraging the Internet and building a loyal and dedicated following. Then this fall, allegations of a history of rape, sexual abuse, and misogyny within the community exploded across the Internet.

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More Sunday Links

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Friday was one of those days where it felt like way too many threads had come unraveled from the thrift-store sweater of my life and were just tangled in an heap of wet yarn at my feet. One of those dreary grey days when I could have used some advice, and maybe a gentle voice saying, “It’ll be ok, sweet pea.” One of those days when I said, to no one in particular, on Twitter, “Do you ever have one of those days when you wish ‘Dear Sugar’ was still around?”

So imagine my surprise when only a few hours later Cheryl Strayed and (original Sugar) Steve Almond announced they were reviving “Dear Sugar” as a podcast.

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A girl with her dog

The Rumpus Saturday Essay: Stain

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It’s hard to remember why I was silent. Maybe, like some of the women only now reporting they were raped by Bill Cosby decades ago, I was afraid I wouldn’t be believed.

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Good Victims

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We couldn’t remember his name.
We couldn’t remember what he looked like.
We couldn’t remember how many there were.
We changed our story as we began to remember more details.
We changed our story into something we could live with.

As Rolling Stone’s article about rape at the University of Virginia continues to be torn apart, Rumpus Essays Editor Emeritus Roxane Gay writes about the problem of expecting survivors of sexual assault to be models of excellence, to get all the facts right, to have fought hard enough, to be, as she terms it, “good victims.”

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This Week in Short Fiction

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On Wednesday, Joyland published “You Said ‘Always’” an excerpt from Ester Bloom’s novel-in-progress, The Sex Lives of Other People. In the story, which has the momentous feel of the novel’s opening, the narrator, Annie, gets dumped by her boyfriend after a night of sex, turned down by her soon-to-be ex-husband, disappointed by her sister on the phone, and felled by a bottle of wine.

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The Disappointing Grandfather

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After hailing Kurt Vonnegut as the “grandfather” on her “literary family tree,” Kathleen Founds describes the experience of reading his short story, “Welcome to the Monkey House,” at BuzzFeed Books. The experience, she writes, was “akin to opening a box in my literary grandfather’s attic and finding something utterly derailing”:

If Vonnegut could see through myths about war, why couldn’t he transcend myths about sexual violence?

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Melville House to Publish Torture Report

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Melville House will publish the Senate Torture Report in paperback and e-book on December 30th. The report, released Tuesday, is currently available to read online, but Melville House hopes that publishing it in print form will reach a wider audience. “It’s probably the most important government document of our generation,” says co-publisher Dennis Johnson, “even one of the most significant in the history of our democracy.”

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Jacqueline Woodson and the End of the World

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I think I was pretty nervous about it as a kid. I think I did [have] that fear of the world coming to an end. I think also it’s kind of how kids exist anyway, you know? You’re always fearing change; you’re always fearing the wrath of a parent; you’re always fearing that something is going to go wrong somewhere.

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The Real Crisis

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Along with the other onslaught of reactions to The New Republic’s mass resignation, George Packer offers his own response at the New Yorker, suggesting that the “collapse” (along with the recent Rolling Stone debacle) shows a “crisis” in journalism:

The crisis in journalism is a business crisis, and it’s been going on for twenty years; the outcome remains far from obvious.

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Not That Kind of Narrator

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The problem with unreliable narrators — and the thing that makes them so delightful to read in fiction — is that by design, you never quite know when they are telling the truth. Which makes it a stunningly poor choice of conventions to employ when writing about sexual assault, a crime that victims are often accused of fabricating, either wholesale or in parts.

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Women Dying from Being Women

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Anne Boyer writes about the history of breast cancer for The New Inquiry.

There is no disease more calamitous to women’s intellectual history than breast cancer: this is because there is no disease more distinctly calamitous to women. There is also no disease more voluminous in its agonies, agonies not only about the disease itself, but also about what is not written about it, or whether to write about it, or how.

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