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Top Book Blogs 12/2019

[Book Forum] Inhuman Bondage
“Certain absences are so stressed, so ornate, so planned, they call attention to themselves; arrest us with intentionality and purpose”--so said a tenebrous Toni Morrison in a 1988 speech at the

[Book Forum] Lisa Robertson’s bottomless novel of authorship and Baudelaire
“These things happened, but not as described.” So begins The Baudelaire Fractal, the vertiginous debut novel by poet, translator, essayist, and most genteel of insurgents Lisa Robertson. Like her

[Book Forum] Dec/Jan 2020

[Book Forum] Choreographer Mark Morris’s new memoir
Foolproof rules for journalists who cover the arts are elusive, but a few third rails do stand out. For instance, you don’t wonder “But what was he driving at?” about Picasso’s Guernica. You don’t

[Book Forum] Rachel Cusk’s unsparing essays
In the title essay of her new collection, Rachel Cusk describes something she calls being sent to “Coventry.” This, as it is for many English families, is her family’s term for putting someone beyond

[Book Forum] Margaret Kilgallen: That’s Where the Beauty Is
MARGARET KILGALLEN WAS BORN IN 1967, landed in San Francisco in 1989, and passed away of cancer in 2001. In that brief window, she occupied the center of an exploding galaxy of young artists including--but

[Book Forum] Sonallah Ibrahim’s cranky elegy for the Left
Octogenarian, slight, and frizzy-haired, Sonallah Ibrahim is a bit of a grump. For over five decades, the Egyptian novelist has served as the Arab world’s preeminent bard of dashed hope and disillusionment.

[Book Forum] The essays of peerless writer and editor Mary-Kay Wilmers
The concept of “literary lions” seems antiquated in a world that doesn’t want writers as public intellectuals. We don’t turn on the TV to learn anything, certainly not from a writer on national news.

[Book Forum] The music criticism of Ian Penman
Pop critics are a sensitive lot. We fret about not being taken seriously and our heroes not getting a spot in the marble. Somehow the economic downturn hit us hardest, click-horny editors happened only

[Book Forum] How Robert Duncan and Jess built an artistic life together
Few artists have proved as agile in mining American visual culture as Jess. Born Burgess Franklin Collins in Long Beach, California, in 1923, the former chemist reconfigured media clippings, mail-order

[Book Forum] Sarah M. Broom’s memoir of a New Orleans house, before and after the floods
The Mississippi River and its tributaries flood perennially. To protect the settlements along its banks, the Army Corps of Engineers created a system of levees and canals that forced the waters to an

[Book Forum] Hildegard von Bingen: A Journey into the Images
IN THE PAST FEW DECADES, the accomplishments of medieval polymath and visionary Hildegard von Bingen have gained widespread recognition. The Benedictine abbess was born in 1098 and, over the course of

[Book Forum] How a Gordon Parks photo-essay caused a lifetime of unintended consequences
Even when a photograph of a wounded or suffering child becomes familiar, it retains the power to unsettle. The smudged face of a sharecropper’s daughter, children arrayed behind barbed wire at Auschwitz,

[Book Forum] Agnes Denes: Absolutes and Intermediates
A “VISIONARY,” A “PROPHET,” A “MODERN-DAY LEONARDO”: Writers often resort to panegyrics when confronted with the eccentric, daunting intellect of Agnes Denes. Given the ambition of the octogenarian

[Book Forum] How 1970s women artists addressed sexual violence and created a new aesthetic language
In April 1973, the twenty-four-year-old Cuban American artist Ana Mendieta invited her fellow University of Iowa MFA students to her apartment. They arrived to find the door ajar. Stepping inside, they

[Book Forum] Reality Bite
There’s a scene in André Aciman’s 2007 novel Call Me by Your Name in which a teenage boy ejaculates inside a peach. Later, his older lover, a family houseguest, finds the fruit and eats it in front of

[Book Forum] The strange, pristine sentences of Gary Lutz
In 2008, Gary Lutz gave a lecture called “The Sentence Is a Lonely Place,” a transcript of which was later published in The Believer. The lecture outlined Lutz’s approach to short stories, specifically

[Book Forum] When are we going to address the climate crisis?
Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything (2014) is animated by a counterintuitive insight: It has long been conservatives, rather than the Left or the environmental movement, who have best understood the

[Book Forum] How the United States became the world’s police force
The first test call using America’s 911 emergency system was placed on February 16, 1968. To fanfare in the press, a state legislator sitting in the City Hall of the small Alabama town of Haleyville

[Book Forum] In her memoir, Megan Phelps-Roper tries to come clean about her extremist past
An unseasonable snowstorm hit Casper, Wyoming, the day of Matthew Shepard’s funeral. The twenty-one-year-old gay University of Wyoming student had been robbed, beaten, tied to a fence, and left for

[Book Forum] Can the Deep South learn from Germany’s efforts to confront its past
Readers in the distant future will surely note that a good number of books published in the late 2010s registered how dramatically the political landscape shifted while they were being written.

[Book Forum] The myth of media objectivity
Shortly after Donald Trump’s inauguration, the journalist Lewis Raven Wallace posted a short piece on Medium with the provocative title “Objectivity is dead, and I’m okay with it.” In those first

[Book Forum] Troll Call
Whatever injuries Silicon Valley has done to the journalism industry over the past decade, it has also bequeathed to us a fine new cottage industry: the “bad-guys-on-the-internet beat,” as Andrew

[Book Forum] Green Miles
The signage of segregation, terrible and tangible, left us with a deficient vision of Jim Crow America. The cruelty of a whites only placard may seem like the bookend to Bull Connor’s gross brutality,

[Book Forum] On Richard Avedon’s ads
A riddle: What’s made of mink-coated totems, toothpaste Lolitas, Thunderbirds, middlebrow colas, Kotex napkins, and Versace decadence? Answer: Avedon Advertising (Abrams, $125), a three-hundred-and-fifty-page

[Book Forum] This season's art books
Gracing the cover of BILL CUNNINGHAM: ON THE STREET: FIVE DECADES OF FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY (Clarkson Potter, $65) is the subject of this tome, rendered as a white silhouette and wearing his trademark

[Book Forum] The life and times of Carrie Fisher
The first line of Carrie Fisher’s debut novel, Postcards from the Edge, is still one of the best opening volleys of all time: “Maybe I shouldn’t have given the guy who pumped my stomach my phone number,

[Book Forum] The unending quest to explain consciousness
THE HARD PROBLEM, DAVID CHALMERS CALLS IT: Why are the physical processes of the brain “accompanied by an experienced inner life?” How and why is there something it is like to be you and me, in Thomas

[Book Forum] Andre Aciman's latest novel
There’s a scene in André Aciman’s 2007 novel Call Me by Your Name in which a teenage boy ejaculates inside a peach. Later, his older lover, a family houseguest, finds the fruit and eats it in front of

[Book Forum] Andrew Marantz's new study of online extremists and edgelords
Whatever injuries Silicon Valley has done to the journalism industry over the past decade, it has also bequeathed to us a fine new cottage industry: the “bad-guys-on-the-internet beat,” as Andrew

[Book Forum] Hilton Als on Joan Didion's Early Novels
Australian critic, poet, and TV personality /www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=ztCG6W5I5ns&feature=emb_logo> Clive James died last week. The author of many books (including Cultural Amnesia,

[Salon Books] Former CIA profiler Jerrold Post on Donald Trump's "dangerous charisma"
Longtime CIA psychologist breaks down the damaged personality of our "dangerous, destructive charismatic leader"

[The Millions] A Year in Reading: 2019
Welcome to the 15th annual Year in Reading series at The Millions. When site founder C. Max Magee first put together his year-end reading reflections in the early 2000s, no one suspected that a blog post would eventually grow into a series that has featured hundreds of writers and readers:

[The Millions] A Year in Reading: Stephen Dodson
This year I read two of the greatest novels ever written, but I’m going to start with something I’m even more excited to share. Back in January, I learned about Dorothy Richardson, who wrote a sequence of autobiographical novels, called Pilgrimage, published between 1915 and 1938; I had never

[Guardian Books Blog] Tips, links and suggestions: what are you reading this week?
Your space to discuss the books you are reading and what you think of them Are you on Instagram? Then you can be featured here by tagging your books-related posts with #GuardianBooksScroll down for our favourite literary linksRead more Tips, links and suggestions blogsWelcome to this week’s

[The Millions] A Year in Reading: Ayşe Papatya Bucak
I am vulnerable to the word once. “‘Once long ago,’ Rogni said, ‘an old woman in a flowered housedress sat on a kitchen chair steeping tea in a cracked brown teapot. She was the Nurse-of-Becoming; she was getting ready to imagine two sisters. Only she made three mistakes.’” So

[The Millions] A Year in Reading: Shea Serrano
Regarding books I read (or reread) in 2019 that I enjoyed greatly, there were plenty; too many, in fact, to list all at once. There was Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror, which was magnificent. There was David McCumber’s Playing Off the Rail, an out-of-print book I loved in college

[The Millions] Tuesday New Release Day: Starring VanderMeer, Hess, Murugan, Olafsson, and More
Here’s a quick look at some notable books—new titles from the likes of Jeff VanderMeer, Annette Hess, Perumal Murugan, Olaf Olafsson, and more—that are publishing this week. Want to learn more about upcoming titles? Then go read our most recent book preview. Want to

[The Millions] A Year in Reading: Dantiel W. Moniz
As my relationship to reading has changed and deepened these past few years, so too has my ability to devour books as voraciously as I once did, when I read mainly for pleasure rather than parsing technique. The pleasure is still there, of course, but now there’s an additional layer of wonder, of

[Guardian Books Blog] Choose your book of 2019 for us to read this December
’Tis the season for best-of lists, so please help the reading group zero in on this year’s must-read – which we shall then read!We’re at the end of 2019. And hey! It hasn’t all been bad. We’re still here, after all. We’re still just about in the EU, even. And, in spite of the political

[Book Forum] The New Yorker's best books of the year; Lore Segal's “complicated love letter” to her editors
The New Yorker's Katy Waldman lists /www.newyorker.com/culture/2019-in-review/the-best-books-of-2019> her best books of 2019. Favorites include Kristen Arnett's Mostly Dead Things, Carmen Maria Machado's

[The Millions] December Preview: The Millions Most Anticipated (This Month)
We wouldn’t dream of abandoning our vast semi–annual Most Anticipated Book Previews, but we thought a monthly reminder would be helpful (and give us a chance to note titles we missed the first time around).  Here’s what we’re looking out for this month—if you need more reading

[Book Forum] Sasha Frere-Jones talks with poet Ariana Reines
Ariana Reines’s A Sand Book was published in June of 2019 and longlisted for the National Book Award in September. It’s almost four hundred pages long, generous and radiant and brutal and patient and

[The Millions] A Year in Reading: Andrea Long Chu
At the insistence of a friend, the reader started reading the new Ben Lerner novel, The Topeka School. On the first page, a fictionalized version of the author as a teenager delivers a lengthy speech aboard a boat; while he speaks, his girlfriend quietly slips into the water and, without his

[The Millions] A Year in Reading: De’Shawn Charles Winslow
No matter how busy I get with teaching or writing, I squeeze in some time for leisure reading. It’s imperative. And I don’t guilt myself for doing so! Here are just a few books I’ve read this year and why I enjoyed them: Sarah M. Broom’s The Yellow House: A Memoir is my favorite

[The Millions] A Year in Reading: Omar El Akkad
All that follows is the product of serendipity. Almost every book I read this year came to me through some unexpected channel—blurb requests, books picked up at random in literary festivals. Every year I set out with a plan, a list of upcoming releases to look out for, classics to catch up on.

[Book Forum] Ken Liu on translating Chinese science fiction; Naja Marie Aidt on writing through grief
“I questioned myself many times: why would I take on the pain of writing this book––writing it in the middle of my raw grief, in the middle of my shock and my trauma?” Naja Marie Aidt tells /

[The Millions] Must-Read Poetry: December 2019
Here are four notable books of poetry publishing this month.  The War Makes Everyone Lonely by Graham Barnhart “Unlike life, / war can be survived.” Barnhart’s debut is full of these sharp, solemn touches about war and the shadow of military service. A former US Army Special Forces medic in

[The Millions] A Year in Reading: Kali Fajardo-Anstine
In December of 2018, in preparation for the publication of my first book, Sabrina & Corina, I quit my job as an office manager in Denver and organized a national book tour (with a couple stop offs in Canada along the way). Sabrina & Corina was born out of a decade of writing, countless

[The Millions] A Year in Reading: Alexandra Kleeman
I think it was this year that I felt my hunger for language, the texture and variety of it, come back full force. For the couple years before, I had felt afraid to look away from The Feed—the persistent, unceasing flow of awful news that felt just a bit less out of my control if I could put my


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