Posts Tagged: The New Republic

Writing to Legitimize the Self

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To research her book Without You, There Is No Us, Suki Kim worked undercover as an ESL teacher in North Korea. Kim was reluctant to call the work a memoir, believing that to do so “trivialized” her investigative reporting. The result was a backlash from critics, who called her undercover methods “dishonest.” At The New Republic, Kim responds to her critics:

Here I am telling my story to you, the reader, essentially to beg for acknowledgment: I am an investigative journalist, please take me seriously. 

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The Hope Whose Death It Announces

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Poetry is defined by a failure to live up to the hype it generates, promising divine transcendence through a medium that is essentially human. This is the paradox Ben Lerner articulates in his dissertation on The Hatred of Poetry. At The New Republic, Ken Chen doesn’t buy it:

You get the sense Lerner’s intellectualized peevishness about poetry is simply an elaborate defense, one that distances an author from the shame, discomfort, and vulnerability that comes from experiencing one’s own emotions.

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Voices Speaking Rather Than Words Written

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Simply put, there is no theory without struggle. Struggle is the condition of possibility for theory. And struggle is produced by workers themselves.

At The New Republic, Rachel Kushner introduces the newly translated 1971 Italian novel We Want Everything by Nanni Balestrini, which takes place during a period of rapid industrialization in Northern Italy during the late 60s and inspired the novel to take on an entirely new structure in fiction.

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On Keeping a Bullet Journal

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Several bullet journal gurus in that community have built significant online followings by posting photos of their hypnotically beautiful notebook spreads. “It’s pretty insane, I initially started posting photos of my journal on Instagram just to archive my process, and then I started racking up followers,” said graphic designer Ursula Hudson, who has been keeping bullet journals since December 2015 and whose Instagram account boasts more than 12,000 followers, despite featuring only 43 posts.

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The Sacred and the Profane in Knausgaard

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Is it possible to separate Knausgaard the author from Knausgaard the protagonist? At the New Republic, Tess Crain asks this question, taking a look at the series from a woman’s point of view. By her estimation, Volume 5, just out in English, explains some of Knausgaard’s problematic views on women by framing him as “a man of God”:

…what makes My Struggle so upsetting to a female reader is also exactly what may redeem it: Sex and souls are separate.

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This Week in Indie Bookstores

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Independent bookstores are thriving because many are adapting technology and learning how to better serve their local community.

A stunning new bookstore has opened in eastern China with dazzling displays and whimsical architecture.

Bookstores in Barcelona are adapting as Spain deals with a shrinking economy.

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The Butterfly Effect

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At The New Republic, Laura Marsh examines the interplay—or lack thereof—between Nabokov’s identities as a writer and a lepidopterist. In her investigative and detailed cataloguing of scientific and literary happenings, her only steadfast finding may be this: “There’s a special sense in which all of this activity, however unenlightening, is essentially Nabokovian.”

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Better Late

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Inspiration is a fickle mistress—sometimes the Muse doesn’t show up for years. Louis Begley may have gotten a late start, but after beginning his first novel at age fifty-six, he hasn’t stopped writing. The author reflects on his career for The New Republic:

Without having set out to do so, I seem to have grown into the role of a chronicler of the Eastern Seaboard’s upper crust.

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Sarah Palin, the Transcendentalist

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From Lincoln’s famous love of quoting Shakespeare to George Bush’s prodigious reading habits, American politics have always mingled with the literary pantheon. Now that Sarah Palin is back in the news for her endorsement of Donald Trump, Jeet Heer traces her literary roots to Walt Whitman:

This is democratic verse, that tries to encompass the world in a bear hug.

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Taking Students Seriously

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Roxane Gay, over at The New Republic, on student activism:

In the protests at Mizzou and Yale and elsewhere, students have made it clear that the status quo is unbearable. Whether we agree with these student protesters or not, we should be listening: They are articulating a vision for a better future, one that cannot be reached with complacency.

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Humpty Dumpty, the Original Mansplainer

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I can explain all the poems that were ever invented—and a good many that haven’t been invented yet.

No, that’s not the obnoxious guy from your Wallace Stevens seminar—that’s Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty, explaining “Jabberwocky” to Alice. Let Evan Kindley take you down the rabbit hole of literary annotation over at The New Republic—and for a contemporary examples, check out Margaret Atwood’s Genius annotation of an excerpt from her latest novel, The Heart Goes Last, at Lit Hub, or this excerpt from Scott Blackwood’s See How Small right here on The Rumpus.

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Macho Literary Culture

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Kingsley Amis all but disappeared from the American literary consciousness after his death. Many of his novels were not even available stateside after their initial publication, although a new line of reprints is changing that. However, The New Republic asks whether American readers can handle Amis, a masculine, writer-as-worker persona:

With his talk of product and workbenches, Amis is trying to create the image of the writer as an ordinary worker, to dispel art’s associations with foppishness and pretentiousness and self-aggrandizement.

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The Beautiful Cubicle Farm

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The Beautiful Bureaucrat intentionally or not taps into contemporary anxieties around Big Data: how (and why, and by whom) the minutia of our lives is captured, and to what ends.

Anna Wiener, over at The New Republic, dives into Helen Phillips’s new novel, The Beautiful Bureaucrat, and all its inner darkness as a narrative for our contemporary society of database farming, the mediation of the self, and all the common anxieties underneath.

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Book Recs from a River-Rafting Joan Didion

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To go with her contribution, Didion had to provide a few sentences about herself. Excavated from the Mademoiselle archives, what she wrote shows a still somewhat green, aspiring writer with a sentimental attachment to home: “Joan spends vacations river-rafting and small-boating in the picture-postcard atmosphere of the Sacramento Valley.” Among her interests, she lists “almost any book every published.”

Over at The New Republic, Laura Marsh reviews The Last Love Song, in which biographer Tracy Daugherty combs through the archives at Mademoiselle, where a 21-year-old Joan Didion worked as an intern.

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