Homage, Not Larceny: On Nicholas Friedman’s “Petty Theft”

They then go for a romantic walk in the woods: They stood in sunlight like young lovers. Much of what is surprising about Petty Theft falls into “the old is new again” category. The teacher was trying to elevate popular music lyrics to the status of poetry, but probably neglected to explore why Robinson’s genius

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The Work of Historical Witness: Józef Czapski’s “Lost Time” and “Inhuman Land”

No one had heard anything. “General staff had to be separated off,” he writes. Although he writes retrospectively, acknowledging the gap between his writing self and his self on the page, Czapski keeps the reader close to his wartime persona, asking us to share his disbelief at the scale of the Russian atrocities even as

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Pursuing the Truth: An Introduction to Józef Czapski’s “Inhuman Land: Searching for the Truth in Soviet Russia, 1941–1942”

One of the informers, Zygmunt Berling, was given the command of a second Polish army formed on Soviet soil, this one under Soviet control, which was allowed to fight on the eastern front and to reach Poland. This is interesting!” Merezhkovsky told Czapski that the path to heaven was muddy, that God most valued those

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A Feast for Polymaths: Jack Miles on Gabriel Said Reynolds’s “The Qur’an and the Bible”

Knopf. Such exposure is clearly assumed in the 13 “Qur’ānic case studies” that form the core of The Qur’ān and Its Biblical Subtext. As Quli Qarai’s translation proceeds, chapter by chapter and verse by verse, Reynolds’s commentary is not gathered at the bottom of the page in the usual format for commentary. There was a

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Hard Time: On Joyce Carol Oates’s “Hazards of Time Travel”

The story’s ominous sense of puppet masters pulling strings is heightened by frequent references to the behaviorism that Adriane and Wolfman study. That seems especially likely given Adriane’s social isolation in the Midwestern college milieu, her general paranoia, and her single-minded pursuit of an assistant professor of psychology named Ira Wolfman. She learns that virtual

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A Book of Silences

He was an unsettled soul, always moving, always setting up temporary studios in New York and other places, always retreating to Luxor in Egypt or the Dolomites or the Island of La Digue. Afterward, Twombly felt somewhat unfulfilled in various art programs until 1951, when he arrived at the Art Students League in New York.

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The Gifts of Humility

Given power’s insidious nature, even its lightest touch may be too much for one’s integrity. Humility instead prevents us from entering the game of power in the first place. Mortification is difficult business. In our chronic hunger for power, we instrumentalize others, we manipulate, humiliate, and degrade them, but that only increases our appetite. We

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“Disasters at the Origin of the Sense of Disaster”: Ferrante on Fascism

As a brilliant novelist, Ferrante’s writing is never pedantic, but roots politics and history in the emotions of the individual person — the choice to help, for example, or the choice to look away. So when HBO announced it would adapt the books into a series, and promotional materials again focused on Elena and Lila

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Those Who Care and Those Who Don’t: Children and Racism in the Trump Era

“Overall, I’m not saying he’s the best president, and he’s definitely not the worst. DECEMBER 14, 2018 This piece appears in the latest issue of the LARB Print Quarterly Journal: No. Based on his experience growing up in Mississippi — like Crystal — Charlie could also see a connection between support for Trump and whiteness. Indeed,

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Beautifying Beale Street

Accents of yellow persist throughout the film, such that they become a familiar, soothing rhythm that visually resists tragedy even when depicting it. While Jenkins does not retreat from addressing the rape of Victoria Rogers — nor from depicting sexism toward Tish entirely (at different points, she is ogled, groped, and harassed by strangers) —

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LA Stories: Howard Hughes, Starlets, and Outcast Punks in Dystopia

Now she returns to discuss her equally intriguing book, Seduction: Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes Hollywood. First up, hosts Eric Newman, Medaya Ocher, and Kate Wolf welcome back Karina Longworth to the show. Then Nikki Darling drops by to talk about her debut novel, Fade Into You, a coming-of-age tale set in suburban nowhere

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Little Book with Big Ambitions: Rita Indiana’s “Tentacle”

La Negrura they called it. Like Indiana, Díaz recounts life following an environmental disaster that has left coral reefs “adios on the ocean floor.” Except in his story, the virus affecting Haitians turns out to be a zombie epidemic that leads the United States to drop a powerful, untested weapon on Hispaniola, causing an earthquake

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Unringing Bell

The Bell scandal was the impetus for BASTA (Bell Association to Stop The Abuse), a local activism group co-founded by Saleh, Garcia, and other Bell locals that would go on to launch a recall against the council. What sets From Kleptocracy to Democracy apart from mere historical recounting is Smoller’s lucid explanation of the radius

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A Small but Important Job: Gary Indiana’s “Vile Days”

There are structures that exist to ensure that this, and nothing else, will be the critic’s role. Expanding Indiana’s presence in the list by making available works that had fallen out of print also seems to complement Semiotext(e)’s recent translations of novels by French, mostly gay writers from the 1970s and 1980s — Pierre Guyotat,

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I Hate to Wait: On Jason Farman’s “Delayed Response: The Art of Waiting from the Ancient to the Instant World”

By exploring seven different historical instance of waiting — from sending messages via the pneumatic tubes in New York City in the early 20th century, to the royal seals of Elizabethan England, to the New Horizons mission exploring space — Farman unpacks how waiting is recorded in various social and material cultures. Coryell’s final letter,

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