The Age of Folly & More

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I don’t know what you do with a president who tweets? What do you with it in the media? Do you tweet back? I mean, shit…it is really scary. It’s to where — who knows or who cares what the truth is, is the point. And we will maybe not care until we find ourselves impoverished or in jail or conscripted. I mean, I don’t know how many times you got to get poked in the stomach before you get it.” Here’s Lewis H. Lapham (Age of Folly: America Abandons Democracy)

“In her new collection of short stories, Ottessa Moshfegh reverses our modern expectations of genre by connecting the estranged ethos of the existentialists with the horror of ordinary life in our time. Homesick for Another World is a compendium of 14 compulsive little tales, each powered by the sense of distance implied in the book’s title.”

How wonderful it is that Rumi, the 13th-century Muslim versifier, has become the best-selling poet in the United States! He might enjoy knowing that Trump’s America is snapping up translations of his homoerotically tinged work even as the country toys with banning Muslims and rolling back gay rights.” Here’s a review of Rumi’s Secret.

“All crime fiction boils down to ‘Why do we keep doing these terrible things? Why do human beings keep doing these terrible things to each other?’” Here’s Ian Rankin (Rather Be the Devil).

The Terror Years

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Terror, as a strategy, rarely succeeds, except in one respect: it creates repression on the part of the state or the occupying power. This is an expected and longed-for goal of terrorists, who seek to counter the state’s vast military advantage by forcing it to overreact, generating popular support for their cause.

-Lawrence Wright, The Terror Years: From Al-Queda to the Islamic State

What the F

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This is a book about bad language. Not the tepid pseudoprofanities like damn and boobs that punctuate broadcast television. I mean the big hitters. Like fuck. And cunt. And nigger. These words are vulgar. They’re shocking. They’re offensive. They’re hurtful.

-Benjamin K. Bergen, What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves

Huck Out West

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Just how I found my poor bedeviled self standing over a gulchful of expired trees, staring down the barrel of a prewar flintlock fowler toted by a crazy old cross-eyed prospector bent on dispatching yours truly, Huckleberry Finn, if not off to some other world, at least to the bottom of the mournful gulch below us, is something you ought to know about on account of it being a historical moment–or ruther, like that decrepit shotgun pointed at me, a PREhistorical one.

-Robert Coover, Huck Out West: A Novel

Flying Lessons & More

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For middle school readers! “A young man spends his summer being shut out of basketball games and learns a valuable lesson about persistence. Choctaw storytelling traditions keep a family in stitches, in between eye rolls. A girl’s anger when her father allows an injustice to stand shifts as she realizes he’s gently changing the world on her behalf. These stories and more fill Flying Lessons & Other Stories, and each unique journey reinforces the notion that diversity in publishing is not just welcome but vital.”

He very much wanted to tell his entire story. I worked on the book at different times. For 10 years. The book Barney envisioned was nothing like it is.” The story behind Barney Rosset’s memoir, My Life in Publishing and How I Fought Censorship.

On Signals: New and Selected Stories: “[Tim] Gautreaux channels Flannery O’Connor with a soupçon of Elmore Leonard in this collection of stories, many set in Louisiana, most featuring people of Cajun descent sliding down the socioeconomic scale, chasing dreams in a last-ditch effort to escape the nightmare of defeat.”

He’s remembered today for his short stories, but, throughout his writing career from 1907 until shortly before his death in 1933 at the age of 48, [Ring] Lardner was a journalist whose work, often syndicated throughout the nation, attracted a huge audience. His output, too, was huge. For instance, during his career with the Chicago Tribune, he wrote more than 1,600 columns and other stories, most often about sports but also such other topics as politics, Prohibition and World War I.” Here’s a review of The Lost Journalism of Ring Lardner.

Insane Clown President

Every mechanism our mighty oligarchy had devised to keep people like Trump out of power failed. This left the path to power wide open for anyone who understood, or sensed, the crippling weaknesses in our political infrastructure.

-Matt Taibbi, Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus

Difficult Women

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My sister decided we had to go see her estranged husband in Reno. When she told me, I was in a mood. I said, “What does that have to do with me?”

-Roxane Gay, “I Will Follow You,” in Difficult Women

The Eastern Shore

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Uncle Ralph lived in the nursing home on the southern side of town, a solitary building on a low hill, low-slung, horizontal. It was built in 1912, the architect a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright, the cost raised by subscription and a modest rise in property taxes. Everyone agreed it was a fine facility.

-Ward Just, The Eastern Shore: A Novel

Heart Attack Watch

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In September, scientists came to town to study the clouds. No one is sure how many researchers there are exactly–an undetermined number of men and a single woman who walks with quick and competent strides–and no one wants them there. The cashier at the gas station on Route 27 rings up the interlopers’ purchases sourly, taking their proffered bills with two pinched fingers and grudgingly doling out their change, shorting them a quarter or dime whenever she can.

-Alyson Foster, “The Theory of Clouds,” in Heart Attack Watch: Stories

Something in the Blood

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There was no advance announcement of the book, save [Bram] Stoker’s cryptic comment to an Atlanta journalist, who told readers in January 1896 that Stoker’s “next book is going to have ghosts in it.” Sometime later that year Stoker delivered a final, professionally typed and hand-emended manuscript called The Un-dead to Archibald Constable & Company….For seven years of work, he received no advance, only a guaranteed first print run of at least three thousand copies and a payment of one shilling for each copy sold. No one knows when the title was changed to Dracula.

-David J. Skal, Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote Dracula