Posts Tagged: Ploughshares

The Generosity of Kristin Dombek

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In her new book, The Selfishness of Others, Kristin Dombek turns her deliberate inquisition and dry humor on the suddenly ubiquitous if “sketchy” word narcissism. In conversation with Laura Creste at the Ploughshares blog, Dombek talks about the origins and offshoots of her interest in narcissism, refracted by the memoir form, polyamory, and a kind of basic animal insecurity.

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Voting Across the Pages

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The political becoming local and, in effect, personal, is what I think we saw playing out all across Columbia last week.  If Ocosingo War Diary teaches us anything, it’s that what might seem like an obvious choice—ending a war of 52 years—from the global perspective actually might be quite a bit more complicated when the social fabric of a place is taken into consideration, especially the intergenerational baggage that’s asked to be unpacked when particular regions—some more resentful of the FARC than others—are asked to simply move on from the violence they and their families have experienced for generations.

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Where Our Favorite Stories Lived

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Particularly in the case of children’s writers, some part of me might hope that these tourist sites will be living manifestations of beloved stories, of stories that seemed like physical locations, places to escape, as real as real life. Maybe it has something to do with seeking to make literal the metaphorical experience of being lost in stories, of meeting again characters who seem three-dimensional, flesh and blood, like old, good friends, like a part of me.

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Visible: Women Writers of Color #4: Jaquira Díaz

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Jaquira Díaz discusses the challenge of writing about family members, her greatest joy as a writer, and her literary role models. ...more

Carving the Uncanny Valley

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Any Luddite with half a brain has already begun stockpiling nonperishables for the inevitable moment the robots rise up against us. Over at the Ploughshares blog, Joelle Renstrom recounts how writers were awakened to the threat of artificial intelligence:

A certain likeness to humans inspires kinship, but when the line blurs, that kinship turns to fear.

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Rooting for Folk Tales

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But the question that’s been on my mind for a while now is how and why we’ve come to recognize certain tales as perennial (and universal) and have relegated others to complete obscurity. Or, to be more exact, how we’ve codified and solidified certain interpretations of certain folk tales as the unalterable classics and neglected the cultural roots that led to their formation.

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The Empathy of Latin America

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I can’t say I was surprised by the level of empathy my barber expressed for the victims of the Paris attacks, though I was intrigued by the empathy of a man whose daily life is so intertwined with the drug wars in Mexico, a war that has (by conservative estimates) claimed over 165,000 lives and disappeared over 27,000 people and 88 journalists, most notably Rubén Espinosa and Nadia Vera who were both savagely murdered in the Narvarte neighborhood of Mexico City earlier this year.

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An End Has a Start

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At the Ploughshares blog, E. V. De Cleyre considers the many ways to find the right moment to end a nonfiction story:

The aftermath, Cusk writes, is “life with knowledge of what has gone before.” Writers are not seers. Armed with the “knowledge of what has gone before,” we mold events, truths, into narrative, and hope and know that the last punctuation mark is not the end, but the invitation to begin again.

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Reading on Reading on Reading

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For Ploughshares, Clare Beams talks about the strange effect of reading a story in which someone reads a story:

Paintings of people looking at paintings, like this one, can make me fall into a dizzy sort of hole. Gazing at the painting to find, there, painted people gazing at a painting, suddenly I’m not quite sure where I’m actually standing, where the line between me and the painting is.

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Your Next Story

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WRITER: Thank you. Thank you. Really. Because my whole problem is I’m incapable of noticing things I might want to write about. I walk through this world blind, and it’s not till helpful people shove things in my face and suggest that I write about them that I ever have an idea.

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Rescuing Asian Art from American Artists

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Generations of American writers have approached Asian cultures with the best of intentions but repeatedly missed the mark. How can we rescue Asian artists and thinkers like Hokusai from our own desire to experience them as foreign? How can we experience Hokusai not as the Japanese artist, not as one of the roots of European Japonisme, not as a spiritual guide, but just as a person who made some art?

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