Posts Tagged: the new yorker

Struggling with Titles

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Karl Ove Knausgaard has been making waves with his six-part book My Struggle. The popular series shares a title with another famous book, Mein Kampf, Hitler’s treatise written from his prison cell. The New Yorker explores the reasoning behind Knausgaard’s choice of title:

Knausgaard sometimes speaks in interviews and public appearances of an irony inherent in the name of the book; where Hitler is all ideology and rigid perfection in “Mein Kampf,” Knausgaard’s struggle as a middle-class dad is quotidian, messy, faintly ridiculous.

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An Evolutionary Love Story

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One of Karen Russell’s favorite myths is the tale of Apollo and Daphne. Read about how it inspired her short story “The Bad Graft” and how she feels about the Joshua tree, here.

Without boring everybody further, I was thrilled to learn about the ancient evolutionary love story between the Joshua tree and the yucca moth, its exclusive pollinator.

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WWNBD: What Would Nellie Bly Do?

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Two things: First, Alice Gregory’s fascinating account of Nellie Bly’s bold, perennially wry career in journalism—an account that wraps up with a call for female writers to not only write about “women’s issues.”

Second, Ann Friedman responds with a thoughtful defense of making a career writing about “women’s issues.”

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Rumpus Round-Up: All the Abramson News Fit to Print

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Jill Abramson, the first woman to head the New York Times as executive editor, was abruptly fired Wednesday and replaced by managing editor Dean Baquet.

The New Yorker attempted to explain why, with the leading theory being Abramson’s discovery several weeks ago that she earned less than her male predecessor.

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Meet the Internet Bard

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Steven Roggenbuck has been producing poetry “that is made, distributed, and viewed almost exclusively on the Web” since 2010. In this article in the New Yorker, Kenneth Goldsmith calls Roggenbuck’s videos, with their shaky camerawork and rough jump cuts, “meticulously crafted infomercials for poetry.”

While some might question Roggenbuck’s improvised style, Goldsmith writes, “This type of writing has deep roots, extending back to the cosmological visions of William Blake, through the direct observation poems of the Imagists, the anti-art absurdities of Dada, and the nutty playfulness of Surrealism…”

Reflecting on his experiences as an Internet poet, Roggenbuck said, “This is the dream for poets, to be a poet when the Internet exists.

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Our Voices Are Voices Too

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In the 1990s, Junot Diaz enrolled in an MFA program where there was silence when it came to critical discussions of racial identity. As Diaz writes in the New Yorker, “Shit, in my workshop we never talked about race except on the rare occasion someone wanted to argue that ‘race discussions’ were exactly the discussion a serious writer should not be having.” In this sentiment, there was a refusal to truly acknowledge the lives and cultures of certain groups of people.

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Boa Constrictor in the Derby Hat

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The Little Prince is one of those books which just as easily affects adults as children, and it’s hard to go long without encountering it. Still, the story remains a bit of a mystery. In the New Yorker, Adam Gopnik tries to solve bits of it:

For all of the Prince’s journey is a journey of exile, like Saint-Exupéry’s, away from generic experience towards the eroticism of the particular flower.

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Plunge Into the Dark with Open Eyes

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Terrifying though the unknown may seem, there are benefits to plunging into the murky waters of uncertainty. In an essay featured in the New YorkerRebecca Solnit writes, “It’s the job of writers and explorers to see more, to travel light when it comes to preconception, to go into the dark with their eyes open.”

There is so much we don’t know, and to write truthfully about a life…is to engage repeatedly with those patches of darkness…those places of unknowing.

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You Are Invisible

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Writing in the New Yorker about the smartphone app Cloak, Mark O’Connell offers a thoroughly beautiful and poetic commentary on the ontology of visibility:

By generating a kind of omnipresence—whereby we are always available, visible, contactable, all of us there all the time—the technologies that mediate our lives also cause us to disappear, to vanish into a fixed position on the timeline or the news feed.

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I Cook Because I Love You

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When my grandmother taught me to make banana pancakes, which we did every Wednesday night through much of my childhood, she would counsel “Hold the bowl” as I stirred, which became, in our letters to each other, code for “I love you.”

Might cooking for another person be considered an act of love?

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What Would Lynne Tillman Do?

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It is nearly impossible to live in New York City without feeling a flicker of Lynne Tillman’s exacting presence. Over at the New Yorker, the indomitable Colm Toibin writes about the (equally) indomitable Lynne Tillman in the introduction to What Would Lynne Tillman Do?: Essays. 

Lynne Tillman’s essays, and indeed the interviews she has given and conducted, are thus an essential part of her work.

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Wired in for Life

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…the unplugging movement is the latest incarnation of an ageless effort to escape the everyday, to retreat from the hustle and bustle of life in search of its still core.

Phones, computers, and tablets, once seen as a way of facilitating interpersonal interactions, are increasingly being seen as barriers when it comes to face-to-face interactions.

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The Academic Writing Debate

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At the end of last month, Nicholas Kristof published a piece in the New York Times calling for academics to come out from their insular bubble and participate in the mainstream conversation—especially with respect to writing. Joshua Rothman responded in the New Yorker that academic writing is only as “knotty and strange, remote and insular, technical and specialized, forbidding and clannish” as the academy itself.

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You’ve Told Your Worst Secret

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Gordon Lish, acclaimed writer, editor, and teacher, is renowned for giving fiction writers the following advice: tell your worst secret. Lish encourages writers to put themselves at risk, first making themselves emotionally vulnerable, and then restoring themselves. Through dramatized confessions, Lish hopes that students will capture their readers’ attention; writing, in this case, is viewed as a constant attempt to seduce readers while staving off boredom.

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