Deck the Halls–Merrily but Warily

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In literature, scenes of decoration are charged with dramatic potential. In leaving their marks on spaces in this exaggerated way, characters show themselves to us.

Stories Strangely Told: Me & Barthelme

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When we first pick up a book, how much buy-in comes from whether or not we actually like it, versus being entirely psychosocially implicated in a culture of reader opinions and college syllabi and corporate marketing tactics and the existence of the Penguin Classics? Is either form of buy-in

An Interview with Book Designer Kate Hargreaves

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Kate Hargreaves is a writer and roller derby skater who also happens to be one of the most active literary book and cover designers in Canada over the past few years, having designed titles for numerous presses.

Review: SARAJEVO ROSES by Rory Waterman

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Sarajevo Roses is a volume packed with journeys, but this is a poet who attends to the enduring as well as the transient, he constructs  gritty, unsentimental pastorals in the noble peasant tradition of Clare, Hardy, Edward Thomas and Robert Frost.

The Silence of the War in The Story of a Brief Marriage

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War is strangely quiet in Sri Lankan writer Anuk Arudpragasm’s debut novel, The Story of a Brief Marriage.The titular brevity refers to the novel’s running time, which takes place over the course of a single day, but the story and its scope are anything but perfunctory.

The Beasts of Kenzaburo Oe’s Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids

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“To them, we were complete aliens.” So begins the first attempt by the unnamed protagonist of Kenzaburo Oe’s Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids to define himself and his fellow reformatory boys in wartime Japan. His last attempt is this: “I was only a child, tired, insanely angry, tearful,

The Unbearable Rancidity of French Letters

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The first woman to be admitted into the French Academy was Marguerite Yourcenar, in 1980. Nowadays, as we’re nearing the Academy’s 400th anniversary, the proportion of women remains dismally low, and the members are overwhelmingly white.

Jail Bait

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The adult-man-plus-teenage-girl plot is a common enough version of the coming-of-age narrative, and I’ve recently revisited two novels with it, both written by women: Sue Miller’s Lost in the Forest and Elizabeth Strout’s Amy and Isabelle.

Fiction Responding to Fiction: James Joyce and William Trevor

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Two Irish masters of the short story, one following quite literally in the other’s footsteps. William Trevor’s story “Two More Gallants,” published in 1986 in the collection The News From Ireland, takes as its subject James Joyce’s story “Two Gallants” from The Dubliners, published in 1914.

Please Come Flying

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“Please come flying,” Elizabeth Bishop pleads with Marianne Moore, in her poem "Invitation to Miss Marianne Moore" (1955), “above the accidents, above the malignant movies, / the taxicabs and injustices at large.” This will—passed between two poets and friends—to alight from the predictable rhythms of crimes made regular, enmediated,