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  • A couple weeks ago, we published our review of Ben Lerner’s 10:04, the follow-up to his debut Leaving the Atocha Station. At the Poetry Foundation’s blog, Adam Plunkett argues that 10:04 inadvertently reveals its author’s poetic training. The book, he says, “dissolves into a poem.”


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    ~Thomas Beckwith
  • “In addition, irrelevant and misleading personal anecdote. However, oversimplification of first Googled author (citation: p. 37). Thesis statement which doesn’t follow whatsoever from the previous.” A generic college paper.


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    ~Thomas Beckwith
  • Last Friday was T.S. Eliot’s birthday, and to mark the occasion, Sadie Stein looked back on his 1965 Times obituary. As it turns out, it uses a phrase — now obscure — that was popularized by Nancy Mitford in the anthology Noblesse Oblige.


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    ~Thomas Beckwith
  • Starting this year, Kirkus Reviews will award the impressive sum of $50,000 each to three winners of their new Kirkus Prize, which recognizes works of fiction, nonfiction and children’s literature. This morning, they announced their first-ever batch of finalists, a long list including a few names who should be familiar to Millions readers: Elizabeth Kolbert (for The Sixth Extinction, which we published an essay about); Year in Reading alum Sarah Waters (for The Paying Guests); Thomas Piketty (for Capital in the 21st Century); New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast (for her memoir); and Siri Hustvedt (for The Blazing World, which we reviewed). Their judges will announce the winners on October 23rd.


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    ~Thomas Beckwith
  • Last week, I pointed to former Millions-er Emily M. Keeler’s review of Wolf in White Van, the new novel by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. Now, at Slate, Carl Wilson offers his own praise of the book, which he describes as “not the kind of rallying cry or dark comfort that Mountain Goats fans are used to, but a complex meditation.”


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    ~Thomas Beckwith
  • Girls creator Lena Dunham’s first book is on shelves, as is the new short story collection by Man Booker laureate and recent Millions interviewee Hilary Mantel. Also out: On Immunity by Eula Biss; A Sudden Light by Garth Stein; Consumed by the filmmaker David Cronenberg; The Ploughmen by Kim Zupan; and The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis. For more on these and other titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview. Support The Millions: Bookmark this link and start there when you shop at Amazon.


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    ~Thomas Beckwith
  • RIP Karl Miller, one of the founders of The London Review of Books and an editor of the magazine for thirteen years. Originally meant to fill a vacuum left by a strike at the Times Literary Supplement, the LRB grew into “the liveliest, the most serious and also the most radical literary magazine we have,” in Alan Bennett’s words.


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    ~Thomas Beckwith
  • Recommended Reading: Anna Della Subin on our views of procrastination. You could also read Avery Erwin on procrastination and American artists.


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    ~Thomas Beckwith
  • It’s a question that puzzles writers of all stripes: why is so much academic writing so terrible? It’s an issue that’s been a lifelong head-scratcher for the linguist Steven Pinker, who set out to answer the question once and for all. His verdict? It has to do with the meaning of “literary style.”


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    ~Thomas Beckwith
  • In general, we think of translators as people whose job, briefly summarized, is to create elegant texts out of works in foreign languages. But J.R.R. Tolkien, in his translation of Beowulf, set out to do something different. The Lord of the Rings author published a translation that he kept intentionally clunky. Why? In his telling, he did it to better imitate Old English.


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    ~Thomas Beckwith
  • Christopher Beha just finished reading the complete works of Henry James and writes for The New Yorker about the experience while also touching on both “The Great Y.A.” and “The Great Goldfinch” debates.


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    ~Kaulie Lewis
  • Recommended reading: Monica McFawn writes for Brevity “On Riding and Writing Boldly.”


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    ~Kaulie Lewis