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  • In the latest issue of the New York Review of Books, Ice Trilogy author Vladimir Sorokin looks at the current events related to Ukraine, Russia, and Crimea, and notes that “the Russian state’s ‘vertical power’ structure” (which is to say “monarchical structure”) is what keeps the Russian people held “hostage to the psychosomatic quirks of its leader.”


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    ~Nick Moran
  • Next week marks the release of Jordan Ferguson’s 33 1/3 book on Donuts, J Dilla’s legendary instrumental hip-hop album. Over at Stones Throw, you can dive into an excerpt. I recommend doing so while bumping “Last Donut of the Night” in the background.


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    ~Nick Moran
  • Does love “crack [your] sternum open” or is love like the “mystery of water and a star?” Is your soul “an empty carousel at sunset?” Are you an only child? I ask because these – along with several other questions – will help Farrar, Straus, and Giroux determine once and for all: “Which Poet Are You?”


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    ~Nick Moran
  • “There are dangers for an artist in any academic environment,” says former Poetry editor Christian Wiman, who now teaches at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. “Academia rewards people who know their own minds and have developed an ironclad confidence in speaking them. That kind of assurance is death for an artist.”


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    ~Nick Moran
  • Seven years ago, a stolen copy of Jorge Luis Borges’s Fervor de Buenos Aires was finally returned to Argentina’s National Library. But was it the same copy that had been taken fifteen years prior?


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    ~Nick Moran
  • Move over Shailene Woodley and Jennifer Lawrence because Chloë Grace Moretz is about to become the YA queen. The trailer for her adaptation of Gayle Forman’s If I Stay just came out. Next, she will be trading tearjerkers for dystopias in an adaptation of Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave.


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    ~Tess Malone
  • Recommended Listening: Michael Nye reading his new short story about a former NFL lineman, “Beauty in the Age of Chaos and Savagery,” for The Kenyon Review. For more Nye, read his 2013 Year in Reading post.


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    ~Tess Malone
  • When Arthur Conan Doyle wasn’t writing Sherlock Holmes, he was a practicing doctor. Thomas Goetz’s new book The Remedy discusses the history of tuberculosis and Doyle’s role in finding a cure with Robert Koch. The Daily Beast interviewed Goetz about how he came up with the idea for the book. “These two characters were part of a much larger story about how scientific discoveries evolve into social change.”


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    ~Tess Malone
  • It’s always disappointing when your novel fails to get published, but what if that novel were still lurking online? At The New York Times, Jason K. Friedman writes about finding the Amazon and Google links for his novel that never made it to print. “Google admits, ‘We haven’t found any reviews in the usual places,’ which in this case would be the planet Earth.” Pair with: Our own Edan Lepucki’s essay on how to cope with not selling your novel.


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    ~Tess Malone
  • Does a writer make the city or does the city make the writer? At Grantland, Michael Weinreb discusses why Elmore Leonard is the ultimate Motor City writer and discovers Leonard’s Detroit. “Without his books, the city would still have suffered the same hellish decline. But because of him, that suffering was rendered into an art form all its own.” Pair with: Our own Bill Morris writing against Detroit’s ruin porn reputation.


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    ~Tess Malone
  • Gabriel García Márquez has died at the age of 87. The Colombian writer was a prominent novelist, screenwriter, and journalist. He was most famous for One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera, and The Autumn of the Patriarch and won a Nobel Prize in 1982 for his work.


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    ~Tess Malone
  • If you thought the English language went downhill when the emoticon was introduced, you can blame a 17th-century poet. Editor Levi Stahl found that English poet Robert Herrick used the first emoticon in his 1648 poem “To Fortune.” As Herrick writes, “Tumble me down, and I will sit/ Upon my ruines (smiling yet :)” For more on the potential ruin of language, read Fiona Maazel’s piece on commercial grammar.


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    ~Tess Malone