Tag: critical mass

In Les Misérables, the Song Remains the Same

Emmett Till’s mother thought that if we saw pictures of her son’s corpse we’d be galvanized into action. She could not have foreseen the surveillance hall of mirrors in which we now find ourselves: Seemingly every week there’s some new document (shaky cellphone play-by-play, suspiciously edited body-cam footage) of this society’s violence upon the black body, so commonplace now it often doesn’t even achieve virality.

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Alice Adams’s Afterlife

It’s just one of the tough truths of being an artist that you can publish 17 books and dozens of short stories—in both the big commercial magazines and the beloved literary journals—and wind up, two decades after your death, a footnote. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a renaissance. The posthumous salvation of our literary foremothers seems to happen regularly these days: Jean Stafford, Lucia Berlin, Bette Howland. Now it’s Alice Adams’s turn.

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The Reenactment

What mattered in early wars
was the cavalry marching through
deep muck, the fife & drums,

stern ravens, words called out
across small, stagnant ponds.
They tell us every landscape longs

to be a battlefield. Someone
fires a cannon the size of a cave,
and we watch as shockwaves

italicize the trees. We, the living,
try channeling the original grief.
But this battle is nothing like

I thought it would be.

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Rupi Kaur Is the Writer of the Decade

Rupi Kaur has published two books: 2015’s Milk and Honey, 2017’s The Sun and Her Flowers. Her epigrammatic verse is spare, the offspring of classical aphorism (if you’re feeling generous) and the language of self-help. The poems have a confessional, earnest manner; disarmingly full of feeling, they can be easy to dismiss. Nevertheless, Rupi Kaur, a Canadian poet who is not yet 30 years old, is the writer of the decade.

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The People vs. Richard Jewell

It’s my own fault that I could not, until recently, recall the name of the person who planted a bomb in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics; it’s also my own fault that I couldn’t say whether that case had been solved. It has: The bomber was Eric Rudolph, and if I ever knew that he had also planted bombs at a lesbian bar and two abortion clinics (I hardly need to spell out his motives), I had forgotten. But I remembered the name Richard Jewell.

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Science Fiction’s Wonderful Mistakes

From the mid-1920s, when Hugo Gernsback coined the term “science fiction,” several fallacies became associated with the increasingly vigorous commercial genre and never entirely went away. The first was the “Taught Me Science Fallacy,” which goes something like this: Isaac Asimov writes about science and particle physics, so if I read the Foundation trilogy, I might learn what a neutrino is. (Kingsley Amis argued in his influential Read original

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