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Matthew Cheney
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<i>Universal Harvester</i> by John Darnielle
John Darnielle's first novel (after the uncategorizable critical novella Black Sabbath's Master of Reality ), Wolf in White Van , got a lot of attention and made the longlist for the 2014 National Book Awards . I read it when it came out, since I adore Darn...

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Element of Style for the Age of Blight
Introductory As the world burns away in political crises and ecological catastrophe, writers strain against meaninglessness, against the sense that their work is nothing more than a few grains of confectionary sugar tossed to a howling wind. What forms migh...

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<i>What Belongs to You</i> by Garth Greenwell
Garth Greenwell's debut novel What Belongs to You  is one of the most celebrated and successful gay novels of 2016. Its success seems to me both odd and gratifying. It is a book that garnered the attention of the literati, and not just the gay literati, tho...

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Coetzee: The Life of Writing, The Good Story
This piece first appeared in the Winter 2015 print edition of Rain Taxi Review of Books . J.M. Coetzee and the Life of Writing: Face-to-face with Time by David Attwell Viking ($27.95) The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction, and Psychotherapy by J.M. Co...

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Shirley Jackson at 100
Today is Shirley Jackson's 100th birthday, and as I think about her marvelous body of writing, I can't help also thinking of the changes in her reputation over the last few decades, or, rather, my perception of the changes in her reputation. For me, she was...

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"Perverse and Uncommercial"
Since my book came out, lots of people have asked me to describe my writing. I'm not good at this. However, having now seen my writing described by reviewers and by common readers, I've got a few ideas about how other people describe it. "Not nice", "distur...

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The Return of David R. Bunch
In the earliest days of this blog, I declared David R. Bunch to be "unjustly neglected". This was true back then, but not nearly as true as it is today, when all his books are out of print and usually sell for high prices on the secondary market (if you can...

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Against the Chill
Hopefully, someday my contribution to peace Will help just a bit to turn the tide And perhaps I can tell my children six And later on their own children That at least in the future they need not be silent When they are asked, "Where was your mother, when?" ...

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BLP, Blood, and the ACLU
My publisher, Black Lawrence Press, has announced that for every book they sell through their website from now through the end of the year, they will donate $1 to the American Civil Liberties Union. I will match this for my own book, Blood: Stories , meanin...

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Out of the Past
In the archives of the New York Times , materials about Germany and the rise of the Nazis to power are vast. It would take days to read through it all. Though it would be an informative experience, I don't have the time to do so at the moment, but I was cur...
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