Posts Tagged: Los Angeles Review of Books

Feeding Your Head: The History of LARB

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Hungry intellectuals are flocking to the Los Angeles Review of Books. Here is the humble story of how LARB came into being in April of 2011. Reader Matthew Weiner (of Mad Men fame) says:

It speaks to Los Angeles in that it’s a little bit renegade… It’s got a little bit of ‘f— you.’ It has the highest chance of any place that I read for me to discover something new.

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Poetry as Peace Work

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Over at Los Angeles Review of Books, Leah Mirakhor engages poet Robin Coste Lewis, 2015 National Book Award winner of Voyage of the Sable Venus, in deep and generous conversation about writing and life. Coste Lewis remembers Audre Lorde as a poet who “refused to condescend to her readers,” and who was a great inspiration to Coste Lewis’s seventeen-year-old self. 

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Common Strange

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Ena Brdjanovic describes the commanding, performative, discomfiting, and off-kilter folk tale qualities of Diane Williams’s recent story collection:

In sum, the 40 short stories of Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine amount to a collage of beautifully trimmed and perplexing details, of moments that make us feel alien in a world we so readily recognize.

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Thrilling and Bewildering

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Her poems’ shifts from the tactile and concrete to the amorphous and the abstract is simultaneously thrilling and bewildering…

In the Los Angeles Review of Books, Noemi Press poetry editor Diana Arterian takes a close look at Sarah Vap’s Viability, a new collection of poems that consider economic and social questions.

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National Amnesia

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Race is an important and central issue in the United States, but what about abroad?

It appears that both the United States and the United Kingdom are witnessing one of those moments when we confront what Toni Morrison said in an early interview about Beloved (1987), ‘something that the characters don’t want to remember, I don’t want to remember, black people don’t want to remember, white people don’t want to remember.

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John’s Pixie Dream Girls

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Mary Jo Tewes Cramb discusses the perpetuation of the “manic pixie dream girl” stereotype in John Green’s novels:

In Green’s novels, there is considerable tension between the potent appeal of his manic pixie characters, the excitement and fun they bring into the narrators’ lives, and the messages these characters impart about their own lives and identities.

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The Lives of Unfamous Women

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Anne Boyd Rioux reviews a new biography on the wife of Lord Byron, Anne Isabella Milbanke. In her review, Rioux evaluates the still-too-high standard set for women’s biographies, particularly when those women lived in the shadow of famous men:

Insisting that the female relatives of famous men be accomplished players on the world stage in their own right in order to warrant biographical treatment is perhaps asking too much.

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The Middle East in Writing

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Increasingly, a writer needs an access point, a micro-focus, a close-up lens—even a gimmick: one small story through which larger historical truths can be elucidated anew.

For the Los Angeles Review of Books, N.S. Morris writes about how journalism inform stories being written about the Middle East, exploring the various shapes nonfiction takes in the process of trying to understand something so expansive.

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1984 or 2016?

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For the Los Angeles Review of Books, Stephen Rohde gives a thorough and chilling analyzation of our current socio-political climate which highlights just how closely our world parallels the one that George Orwell predicted in his novel 1984:

No one aware of post-9/11 society in the United States, England, Europe, and elsewhere can fail to see how chillingly Orwell (and Madison) imagined the consequences of permanent war in instilling fear, inflaming patriotism, creating an obedient citizenry, and establishing a pervasive surveillance state.

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The New Teeth of Mexican Literature

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While reviewing Valeria Luiselli’s The Story of My Teeth over at the Los Angeles Review of Books, Aaron Bady considers the rise of Mexican literature post-Roberto Bolaño:

Roberto Bolaño’s popularity in English over the last decade or so has had a profound effect on publishers.

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Your Brain on History

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For the Los Angeles Review of Books, Larry S. McGrath writes about the growing role of neuroscience in writing new historical narratives. McGrath frames this discussion in a review of historian Lynn Hunt’s Writing History in the Global Era, looking particularly at her claim of a “biochemical revolution” in shaping the modern consciousness.

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Writing Realness

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I took the part of me that was the most sensitive, and I asked what it would be like to be the most raw version of myself, in a world that is actually pushing in on me.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Review of Books, debut novelist Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine, talks about the writer’s life, defining moments, and the intersection of beauty and technology.

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Writing about Music, Dancing about Architecture

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Radio is undergoing the sort of DIY revolution that journalism faced with the advent of blogs. If ‘Out on the Wire’ helps convince the legions of amateur podcasters that good radio is far more than recording hour upon hour of unedited gabbing, it will be not only useful and fun but that much rarer thing: a public service.

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Don’t (Blurb) Speak

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Wallace coined the helpful term “blurbspeak,” which he defined as “a very special subdialect of English that’s partly hyperbole, but it’s also phrases that sound really good and are very compelling in an advertorial sense, but if you think about them, they’re literally meaningless.”

Though David Foster Wallace was somewhat skeptical about book blurbs, he wasn’t unlikely to recommend books himself from time to time.

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Words, Music, Words, Music … and Glass

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He is one of the only artists … who actually seemed to enjoy his journey, both spiritual and musical. Plus, he seemed to learn something profound with each step of his way, until completely formed as an artist.

In a critique of composer Philip Glass’s memoir Words Without Music, the Los Angeles Review of Books explores Glass’s rise as a composer and musician, his discovery of his musical style, and the great loves of his life.

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To Pimp Postmodernism

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Over at the Los Angeles Review of Books, Casey Michael Henry considers Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly a new bid to revive a “Black Postmodernism”:

Not only does the album fulfill many specific qualities of postmodernism, and postmodernism specifically shaped by black experience, but also does so within a form traditionally consigned to canonical, usually white, “masters” like Melville and Pynchon.

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Seeing is (Not) Believing

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Does perception provide us with an accurate picture of reality? To what extent is our environment a reflection of our psychological state? UCLA Philosophy Professor Josh Armstrong examines all sorts of thought-provoking questions in his critique of John Searle’s Seeing Things As They Are in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

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