Essays

April 29, 2014

Forget About James Franco 19

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I’ve been around enough creative types to know that the only thing more toxic and debilitating than their schadenfreude is their seething resentment over the success of a rival. Especially when it’s seen as unearned.

April 28, 2014

What García Márquez Meant to the Macondians 4

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Colombia of the ’80s and ’90s contained within itself Hell and Paradise all at once, each in its full force, neither diluting the other. This point is essential to understand why so many of us have taken to calling our beloved Nobel Laureate, the late Gabriel García Márquez, the most important Colombian who ever lived.

April 25, 2014

Kafka on the Go: Rereading The Metamorphosis 0

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I had been casting about for the perfect title when I saw Susan Bernofsky’s new translation of The Metamorphosis at an airport bookstore, the beautiful cover submitting the title letters to the same transformative process as the book’s protagonist undergoes. This, I decided, would be my companion text as I semi-reclined on a plane, lay in bed, sat in a café, strolled upright in a park, and bellied up to a bar.

April 23, 2014

450 Years of Juliets: On Women Making Shakespeare 2

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The history of women interacting with Shakespeare’s plays is also the history of women’s rights, suffrage, and of the feminist movement. Shakespeare has been, and is, an uneasy ally.

April 22, 2014

Sacrament of Fiction: On Becoming a Writer and Not a Priest 7

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Good fiction can be a form of good works. As a Catholic, I recognize that life is a story of continuous revision, of failure and unexpected grace, and of dogged hope. I am comfortable with the white space of ambiguity and mystery. I have faith, not certainty.

April 15, 2014

Crimean Rites 0

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It’s February 4, 1937. The poet Osip Mandelstam is in Voronezh, a provincial city deep in the Russian steppe. He has one year left to live.

April 11, 2014

You’ve Got Mail: On the New Age of Biography 3

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After centuries of shuffling papers, biographers must now deal with the sudden digitization of the self, and the behavioral changes that have followed.

April 10, 2014

Viral Video: The Most Famous 15-Year-Old Basketball Player in America 3

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But Woods’s weight as prep basketball’s premier Internet phenomenon — and how dominant he looks in his highlights — might give a false impression of his chances at future success. It’s entirely possible Woods is at the height of his fame right now. I went to the Hammond School to see what that kind of uniquely modern sports celebrity felt like in person.

April 10, 2014

Sweep, Harvest, Gather: Mapping Metaphors to Fight Surveillance 3

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To better understand how metaphors are being used in coverage of surveillance, PEN embarked on a study of articles by journalists and bloggers. There is rich thematic diversity in the types of metaphors that are used, but there is also a failure of imagination in using literature to describe surveillance.

April 9, 2014

Appetite for Risk: At the Intersection of Video Games and Literature 18

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The literary world and the video games world could greatly benefit each other. Even a conversation, let alone the beginning of real collaborations and dialogues, would help each contend with their respective shortcomings.