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  • “So Be It! See To It!” So you may have already seen this on the literary internet earlier this year, but today’s Friday, and we needed a little infusion of life: enter Octavia Butler‘s amazingly awesome note to self (via the also amazing and awesome Rose Eveleth).


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    ~Kirstin Butler
  • “Where does the line between the self-portrait and the selfie fall? Both Kardashian West and Kahlo are masters of the form—suggesting that perhaps there is no clear line at all.” Anyone who puts Frida and Kim together in an essay, as Sarah Murray has for The Rumpus, has our full and enthusiastic support. Also relevant: Alizah Salario‘s piece about the naming of North West.


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    ~Kirstin Butler
  • “Baker is such a wonderful prose stylist that he could probably get away with publishing his diary—which, for epic stretches, is what Substitute feels like.” Over at The NationEvan Kindley reviews Nicholson Baker‘s latest, a 700-plus-page non-fiction exploration of substitute teaching. Spoiler: it’s not as sexy as Baker’s other work. If it’s the sex you want, see our primer on Baker’s novels; also immensely entertaining, our interview with the author from 2013.


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    ~Kirstin Butler
  • “It wasn’t our job to be aroused; it was our job to enhance literature meant to arouse our paying readers.” Kayleigh Hughes writes for Catapult about her year of editing e-erotica. You will learn myriad things from her account, such that publishers list “every sex act contained in every book, and the page on which those activities could be found, so that those in sales could properly categorize and organize the books for maximum success in the e-market.” And if your lust still requires further satiation, see also this account of writing the erotica itself.


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    ~Kirstin Butler
  • “Books can be dangerous objects–under their influence people start to wonder, dream, and think.” In “celebration” of Banned Book Week, the New York Public Library has a quiz for you to find out how much you know about the freedom to read. See also our tribute to The Bluest Eye, one of the United States’ most challenged books.


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    ~Kirstin Butler
  • “Hitler increasingly presented himself in messianic terms, promising ‘to lead Germany to a new era of national greatness,’ though he was typically vague about his actual plans.” The New York TimesMichiko Kakutani writes a review of Volker Ullrich‘s new Hitler biography, Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939, so timely it could easily be an op-ed. Just read it. And when you’re done, read this too.


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    ~Kirstin Butler
  • “Skipping or skimming parts of a narrative should not only be expected but encouraged, particularly if an author is writing without clarity or purpose or showing off. Life’s too short to slog through some smarty-pants attempt to demonstrate a mastery of mechanical engineering or botany.” Adam Kirsch and Anna Holmes face off for The New York Times Bookends column about whether there are right and wrong ways to read a book.


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    ~Kirstin Butler
  • “That has always been the unsettling irony of the carefree aesthetic. Rhetorically, it denies the full unpredictability of black experiences in America. It is a stereotype, albeit one intended for benevolence and created, perhaps lovingly, by black people.” Doreen St. Félix writes about the roots and ramifications of the “Carefree Black Boy” phenomenon.


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    ~Kirstin Butler
  • “I took my son to Paris fashion week, and all I got was a profound understanding of who he is, what he wants to do with his life, and how it feels to watch a grown man stride down a runway wearing shaggy yellow Muppet pants.” Michael Chabon writes a beautiful piece for GQ about going couturing with his son, Abraham. Pair with yesterday’s essay by R. J. Hernández on fashion in literary fiction.


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    ~Kirstin Butler
  • As part of his ongoing campaign to atone for his sin of helping Trump, ghostwriter Tony Schwartz is consulting for the Clinton campaign. And dear god if ever we’ve wished a writer well, it’s now.


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    ~Kirstin Butler
  • “Her pincers tore at me… I stormed her openings as if she was a beleaguered fortress.” We’re wincing-slash-laughing at Lapham’s Quarterly‘s infographic of authors’ attempts to put sex down on the page throughout history. Pair with author Julia Fierro‘s great piece about trying to *do it* in her first novel.


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    ~Kirstin Butler
  • Out this week: The Black Notebook by Patrick ModianoThe Last Wolf & Herman by László KrasznahorkaiDeceit and Other Possibilities by Vanessa Hua; Shirley Jackson by Ruth Franklin; Time Travel: A History by James Gleick; and Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2016 Book PreviewSupport The MillionsBookmark this link and start there when you shop at Amazon.


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    ~Thomas Beckwith

Read More The Millions Top 10 August 2016