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Rodrigo Corral

from Slate

Sometimes You Can Judge a Book by Its Cover

Graphic designer Rodrigo Corral explains how he comes up with iconic book-jacket art.

BY RUMAAN ALAM

A bearded, smiling man.
Rodrigo Corral Anna Kassoway

On this week’s episode of Working, Rumaan Alam spoke with graphic designer and creative director Rodrigo Corral. They discussed his work designing book-cover art, where he looks for inspiration for designs, and how he corresponds with authors when creating a cover for their work. This partial transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Rumaan Alam: I’ve wanted for a long time to talk to someone for this show who designs book jackets. Just to establish for our listeners some of your work, because I think that a lot of people are going to know your work, I’m going to mention the cover of James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces, which shows a hand covered in sprinkles against a pale blue backdrop; or I’ll mention John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, which has a black cloud sitting on top of a white cloud with this lettering that looks like chalk on a blackboard; or I’ll mention Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which has a spray-painted silhouette that looks like graffiti, but it also looks like a Rorschach test.

If you go to the bookstore right now in this country, you’re going to see paperback editions of Rachel Cusk’s OutlineTransit, and Kudos which each have these arresting photographs on the cover: a seashell perched in the sand, a praying mantis trapped in a plastic cup, a view from an airplane window.

I’m only mentioning a few of your designs, but I think this gives a sense of what it is that you’ve done that really caught my attention, which is book design. What does the brief look like when you’re designing a book jacket, and how is that different than when the task is to design a hotel logo or an illustration for a magazine article?

[ click to continue reading interview at Slate ]

Posted on September 23, 2021 by Editor

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C.S. Tao

from Law & Liberty

Uncovering the Tao of C.S. Lewis

by Samuel Gregg

C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis (AF archive/Alamy Stock Photo).

In the midst of World War II, Oxford University Press published a short book by a middle-aged don who used the way in which English was taught in secondary school to launch a defense of the idea that there is objective moral truth, that it contains deep content, and that we can know it. The author was a Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, where he taught literature. But C.S. Lewis had also acquired a formidable reputation as a Christian apologist, himself having embraced atheism at age 15 before returning first to theism in 1929 and then his Anglican faith of the orthodox variety in 1931.

Lewis’s short book The Abolition of Man (1943) was not, however, about religion in general or Christianity in particular. It was an affirmation of the claim that there is a self-evident moral ecology grounded in human anthropology which has been recognized in the world’s most prominent cultures, including non-Western societies. We deny, Lewis maintained, this moral reality at our peril. For to do so would not only amount to erasing our very identity as humans (ergo, the book’s title), but also because repudiation of this universal moral code leaves us helpless in the face of will-to-power types.

The Abolition of Man quickly became a best-seller and continues to be read today by people from all types of cultural and religious backgrounds. It has been praised by individuals across the philosophical spectrum ranging from Joseph Ratzinger to John Gray, Michael Polanyi, and Francis Fukuyama. Many today, including a good number of agnostics and atheists, find the present abysmal state of Western culture ample confirmation of the prophetic character of Lewis’s thesis.

[ click to continue reading at Law & Liberty ]

Posted on August 23, 2021 by Editor

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The Death Of Poe

from The Daily Beast

Edgar Allan Poe’s Final Macabre Mystery: His Own Death

On Oct. 7, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 40. Alcoholism was listed as the cause of death, but what really killed him remains a mystery.

by Allison McNearney

Imagine a 19th century mystery that begins with a man slipping in and out of consciousness in a Baltimore hospital bed in clothes that are not his own. While he has periods of semi-lucidity, he is more often wracked by delirium, incoherently babbling and shouting out the name “Reynolds” to the puzzlement of all around him. After a short period of recovery, he suddenly takes a turn for the worse, says “Lord, help my poor soul!” and dies.

This is the 19th century, so the cause of death is listed as alcoholism, because how else can you explain such strange symptoms. But in reality, no one knows. Nor do they know how the man came to be found unconscious in a city he wasn’t supposed to be in wearing someone else’s clothes after having disappeared for five days.

It would be the perfect case for Sherlock Holmes or Inspector Morse or, dare we say, C. Auguste Dupin, the first detective to appear in fiction. This last investigator would be fitting as the scene is ripped from the real life and real death of his creator, Edgar Allan Poe.

On Oct. 7, 1849, Poe died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 40. His life may have been short, but it was filled with drama and turbulence—literary brilliance, scandal, tragedy, and heartbreak, some of which was due to life circumstances, some to circumstances of his own making.

Poe set the standard for what horror could achieve in fiction and invented the mystery genre. Then, in death, he embraced that Oscar Wilde quote that life imitates art with a demise that was worthy of his most eerie of gothic horrors. Nearly 170 years after he took his last breath, people are still speculating about what actually happened to Edgar Allan Poe.

[ click to continue reading at TDB ]

Posted on August 17, 2021 by Editor

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Drinkin’, shootin’, fishin’, bullfightin’.

from Prospect

Busting the Hemingway myth

A new documentary breaks new ground by exploring the American writer’s mental health and gender fluidity—but it still doesn’t go far enough

By Lucinda Smyth

Hemingway and his fourth wife Mary. Credit: BBC

In 1949, Ernest Hemingway took the journalist Lillian Ross on a whistle-stop tour of New York. “Want to go to the Bronx Zoo, Metropolitan Museum, Museum of Modern Art, ditto of Natural History, and see a fight,” Hemingway insisted. “Want to see the good Breughel at the Met.” In the event, they went to almost none of those places. They went to a bar to talk about hunting. They went to lunch with Marlene Dietrich—nicknamed “the Kraut”—to talk about the war. They went to Hemingway’s hotel lobby. They went to a different bar. At the suggestion of Mary, Hemingway’s fourth wife, they went to Abercrombie and Fitch to buy him a coat. Hemingway eyed himself in the mirror. “Hangs like a shroud,” he said bitterly.

Seventy years later, Ross’s irreverent profile remains one of the best pieces written about Hemingway. It shows a different side to the writer who is still so often shrouded in macho myth. Drinkin’, shootin’, fishin’, bullfightin’: we all know the Hemingway legend. The shadow of his legacy is so bulky, in fact, that it’s almost impossible to consider his work without addressing the personality behind it. Reactions to Hemingway the man can be tediously defensive: He might have been a goddamn son of a bitch—but hell! Could he nail a sentence! So how to approach him in 2021?

[ click to continue reading at Prospect ]

Posted on June 30, 2021 by Editor

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Beverly Cleary Gone

from The Los Angeles Times

Beverly Cleary, beloved and prolific author of children’s books, dies at 104

By VALERIE J. NELSON

With witty yet economic prose and a gift for recalling the inner emotions of childhood, Beverly Cleary wove timeless tales that took young readers back to the Portland, Ore., of her youth.

Her stories served as a collective touchstone for the childhoods of many baby boomers, and succeeding generations, who saw themselves in the pages of her work.

Cleary died Thursday in Carmel, where she had lived since the 1960s. She was 104.

The grande dame of children’s literature, she wrote both humorously and realistically about the anxieties of childhood in such enduringly popular books as “Henry Huggins” and “Beezus and Ramona.”

[ click to continue reading at LAT ]

Posted on March 26, 2021 by Editor

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1925

from The New York Times

Was 1925 Literary Modernism’s Most Important Year?

By Ben Libman

“An illiterate, underbred book it seems to me: the book of a self-taught working man, & we all know how distressing they are, how egotistic, insistent, raw, striking & ultimately nauseating.” So goes Virginia Woolf’s well-known complaint about “Ulysses,” scribbled into her diary before she had finished reading it. Her disparagement is catnip to those many critics who like to view “Mrs. Dalloway” — that other uber-famous, if more lapidary, modernist novel that spans the course of a single day — as Woolf’s rejoinder to Joyce. More than that, though, it tells us something important about our literary history. Nineteen twenty-two, the year of “Ulysses,” may well be ground zero for the explosion of modernism in literature. But the resultant shock wave is better captured by another year: 1925, that of “Mrs. Dalloway” and several other works, all now in the spotlight in 2021, as they emerge from under copyright.

If many an English-majored ear perks up at the sound of “1922,” it’s mostly because of the two somewhat ornery men who published their masterpieces that year: Joyce and T. S. Eliot. “Ulysses” and “The Waste Land” are taught everywhere and almost without exception as “signifying a definitive break in literary history,” to quote the critic Michael North from his book “Reading 1922.” Both the novel and the poem are notoriously challenging, obscurely allusive and highly uneasy about their modern time and the rubble of tradition astride which it stood. Both are also often distressing, egotistic, insistent, raw, striking and (depending on one’s mood) ultimately nauseating. And it is precisely these qualities that account for their hold on our literary imagination. They represent everything that literary modernism is meant to: rupture, difficulty and, of course, making it new.

Yet 1925 is arguably the more important date in modernism’s development, the year that it went mainstream, as embodied by four books whose influence continues to shape fiction today: Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway,” Ernest Hemingway’s debut story collection, “In Our Time,” John Dos Passos’ “Manhattan Transfer” and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” Compared with the masterpieces of 1922, these books — all slated for reissue in new editions this year — entered our culture in relatively unspectacular fashion. But it’s precisely their unassuming guise that allowed them, by osmosis rather than disruption, to diffuse their modernist conceits throughout the literary field, ensuring their widespread adoption.

[ click to continue reading at NYT ]

Posted on March 22, 2021 by Editor

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Tia Mowry’s Favorite Books

from Marie Claire

Tia Mowry Shares Her All-Time Favorite Books in ‘Shelf Portrait’

She has a gorgeous library in her bedroom!

By Marie Claire

Tia Mowry’s chic library, located in her room (a dream!), is filled with a variety of books alongside her “shrine of accomplishments,” as seen in Marie Claire’s latest episode of Shelf Portrait, where celebrities, influencers, and famous bookworms invite us inside their homes to show off their personal libraries.

Mowry proudly has her first book, Oh, Baby!, displayed on her shelf, as well as candles, flowers, sage, and pictures. In the video, she reveals her five favorite books of all time are James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces (everybody is struggling with something in their life and this books speaks to that), Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret (she says it changed her life!), Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements (it gave her so much wisdom), Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist (it’s all about looking for the signs), and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love (the ultimate lesson that women can create their own journey).

[ click to continue reading at Marie Claire ]

Posted on March 4, 2021 by Editor

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THE ODYSSEY Cancelled

from The Wall Street Journal

Even Homer Gets Mobbed

A Massachusetts school has banned ‘The Odyssey.’

By Meghan Cox Gurdon

A sustained effort is under way to deny children access to literature. Under the slogan #DisruptTexts, critical-theory ideologues, schoolteachers and Twitter agitators are purging and propagandizing against classic texts—everything from Homer to F. Scott Fitzgerald to Dr. Seuss.

Their ethos holds that children shouldn’t have to read stories written in anything other than the present-day vernacular—especially those “in which racism, sexism, ableism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of hate are the norm,” as young-adult novelist Padma Venkatraman writes in School Library Journal. No author is valuable enough to spare, Ms. Venkatraman instructs: “Absolving Shakespeare of responsibility by mentioning that he lived at a time when hate-ridden sentiments prevailed, risks sending a subliminal message that academic excellence outweighs hateful rhetoric.”

The subtle complexities of literature are being reduced to the crude clanking of “intersectional” power struggles. Thus Seattle English teacher Evin Shinn tweeted in 2018 that he’d “rather die” than teach “The Scarlet Letter,” unless Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel is used to “fight against misogyny and slut-shaming.”

[ click to continue reading at WSJ ]

Posted on January 2, 2021 by Editor

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Besottedness

from The Atlantic

What Drives Writers to Drink?

Seeking in the eloquent benders of Dylan Thomas and Herman Mankiewicz an answer to an ancient riddle

by JAMES PARKER

A portrait of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (1914–1953) sitting in an unidentified bar in the early 1950s. (Weegee / International Center of Photography / Getty)

The drunk guy. What are you going to do with the drunk guy? He’s holding forth, he’s sucking up air, he’s rhetorically inflated, he’s ruining everything, and no possible appeal to decency or art can stop him. A bucket of cold water might answer. Or a Vulcan nerve pinch. Otherwise, you’re just going to have to take it, you and everyone else, sinking deeper into a kind of frozen grave of disaffection, an icy bed of umbrage, as he goes on and on, drunk on himself, drunk on being drunk, drunk.

And it’s even worse if the drunk guy is a writer. Because not only are writers very tricky—viciously down on themselves, impossibly in love with this or that, squirting little shafts of bile or ambrosia from secret writer glands—they also have language. Their drunk-guy monologues will not, unfortunately, be without interest. They might even be—as lights flutter out in the brain—somewhat creative.

David Fincher’s Mank, now streaming on Netflix, and Steven Bernstein’s Last Call, which I saw recently in a fantastically deserted AMC theater, both feature protracted drunk-writer monologues, because both movies have a drunk writer for a leading man. In Mank, it’s Herman “Mank” Mankiewicz, the screenwriter who gave us Citizen Kane; in Last Call, it’s Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet who gave us … Dylan Thomas. Mank was brilliant; Thomas was a genius. Drunk guys that they frequently were, neither man, to put it mildly, was without insight. What can they teach or impart to us about writing and booze?

[ click to continue reading at The Atlantic ]

Posted on December 24, 2020 by Editor

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B.E-E. Cancelled

from The Independent UK

Bret Easton Ellis: ‘Being cancelled has endeared me to part of the population’

After his recent collection of essays stirred controversy, the author has written the script for a slasher horror movie. He tells Ed Cumming why today’s social media storms are nothing compared with what he faced for writing American Psycho

(AFP via Getty Images)

Until last year, Bret Easton Ellis had been drifting from the public eye. Thirty-four years had passed since the instant celebrity that followed Less Than Zero, a stylish, nihilistic vision of Los Angeles published in 1985 when its author was just 21. The furore over American Psycho, his third and most famous novel, had long since faded into literary history, even after a resurgence around the 2000 film that starred Christian Bale as its corporate psychopath antihero, Patrick Bateman.

Ellis was prone to the odd misjudged tweet, in particular during 2012, a bumper year in which he variously claimed the American actor Matt Bomer was “too gay” to play the lead in 50 Shades of Grey, said the director Kathryn Bigelow was overrated because “she’s a very hot woman” and, most memorably, invited his followers to “bring coke now” to a party he was at. But by last year he had gone quieter on social media, too. Sober after a lifetime of well-documented excess, Ellis seemed to be charting a quieter course, writing screenplays and making podcasts.

Then he published White, a collection of musings about, among other things, safe spaces, Twitter, liberal hysteria over Trump, #MeToo, the radical beauty of Richard Gere in American Gigolo, Black Lives Matter, the Oscar-winning film Moonlight, and snowflake millennials – “Generation Wuss”, whom he declared unable to handle criticism. The essays – and interviews promoting them – provoked a barrage of criticism. The Guardian called it a “nonsensical, vapid book, written by a man so furiously obsessed with his right to speak that he forgets to say anything”. In the London Review of Books, James Wolcott noted Ellis’s gift for “upsetting the maximum number of people with the minimum amount of effort”. Ellis was back in the news, portrayed more as a middle-aged crank than a bad boy.

Now, nearly two years since White’s release, Ellis claims to have been baffled by the reaction. “I was shocked,” he says. “It was an argument about aesthetics, and unfortunately the meaning got twisted. I never saw it as a proclamation or politics. I saw it more about cultural history. The reaction was politicised. It was terrible, because I really don’t feel that way at all. My boyfriend’s a millennial.” He often refers to his millennial boyfriend, Todd, a musician, in a way that reminds me of how Captain America uses his shield to block attacks but also as something to throw at his enemies. “Still, we were prepared,” he adds. “We knew it was going to freak the media out, and it did. It was nothing compared to American Psycho, when there were protests and people throwing blood on bookstores and telling me my career was over.”

[ click to continue reading at The Independent ]

Posted on December 19, 2020 by Editor

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B.E.E. Serial

from MovieMaker

Bret Easton Ellis Serializes New High School Serial Killer Story — on His Podcast

by Tim Molloy

Bret Easton Ellis serializes new serial killer novel The Shards on his podcast

For the last six episodes of his podcast, American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis has held readers rapt with an early 1980s story of Los Angeles high school kids who become entangled with a handsome new student named Robert Mallory — and a serial killer known as The Trawler.

Adding to the intrigue: Ellis says everything in the story really happened to him and his friends.

Ellis, a frequent critique of Hollywood and literary censorship, explained early on that he was releasing the podcast to his paid subscribers in part because he isn’t sure anyone would publish it, given its sometimes horrific contents. He has also wondered if his most successful works – including American Psycho and Less Than Zero — would find publishers today, given the sensitivities of 2020.

The new story, which Ellis has alternately described as a novel and a memoir, is full of details that might migraine the minds of modern-day publishers: a killer who trawls home before his murders (like the Manson family once did), learning their blueprints and stealing pets; underage sex; and ghastly violations involving dead fish. The working title is The Shards.

Ellis is, as he explains on the podcast, completing a new installment every two weeks in time to read it at the start of each B.E.E. Podcast. He has no editor, no notes from a nervous publisher, no corporate board worried about potential fallout. He has changed names and other details, he says, but sometimes friends from Buckley, his Sherman Oaks private school, will contact him after an episode to make minor corrections.

[ click to continue reading at MovieMaker ]

Posted on November 19, 2020 by Editor

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Gone With The Cold-eyed Realism

from The New Criterion

Knights & their ladies fair

On the cold-eyed realism of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind.

by Bruce Bawer

Just after the opening credits of Gone with the Wind and before the start of the film proper is a title card that reads as follows (ellipses in the original):

There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South . . .

Here in this patrician world the Age of Chivalry took its last bow . . .

Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave . . .

Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered, a Civilization gone with the wind . .

These are four very important sentences, because they’re intended to shape the way we view the entire 238-minute movie. Down through the decades, they’ve continued to serve that function. But those four sentences were not written by Margaret Mitchell, the author of the 1936 novel on which the film was based. They aren’t even remotely based on anything in the novel. On the contrary, when Mitchell first encountered the title card at the film’s Atlanta premiere, according to her biographer, Anne Edwards, she winced. “ ‘Cavalier,’ ” wrote Edwards, “was not a word she liked associated with the South.” The words don’t appear in the final shooting script, credited to Sidney Howard, or in any of the innumerable earlier versions of the screenplay done by other hands (including F. Scott Fitzgerald). Instead, the title card, along with six cards that appear later in the film, was composed by the prolific screenwriter and playwright Ben Hecht at the last-minute instigation of the movie’s producer, David O. Selznick (“i am certain you could bat them out in a few minutes,” Selznick telegraphed), and was slipped into the beginning of the picture a few weeks after its first sneak preview.

Many people who’ve seen Selznick’s movie but who’ve never opened Mitchell’s novel have acquired the impression that the book is just what Hecht’s title-card suggests: a gauzy, romantic take on the pre-war South. In fact, when the novel is mentioned in passing in accounts of the movie, it’s often summed up by a statement to precisely this effect. For example, in a 2005 biography of Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy in the film, Jill Watts, a professor of film studies at csu San Marcos, wrote that “In Mitchell’s view, the antebellum South was an era of greatness.” In 2004, Matthew Bernstein, a professor of film studies at Emory, described the racial politics of Selznick’s movie as “less-than-progressive,” while adding that “the film is less offensive than Margaret Mitchell’s novel.”

[ click to continue reading at The New Criterion ]

Posted on September 1, 2020 by Editor

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Wells and Shaw and The Fabians

from The New York Times

H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw Fight Over Socialism

In his latest installment of The Literati, Edward Sorel illustrates the epic battle for control of the Fabian Society, an elite group of socialists, at the turn of the last century.

By Edward Sorel

Credit… Edward Sorel

In his 1901 book, “Anticipations,” H.G. Wells offered his predictions for the future and his belief that only an elite group of enlightened scientists and technicians could save humanity. The book caught the attention of London’s Fabian Society, a small group of accomplished men and women whose aim was to bring about socialism peacefully through the “permeation” of socialist ideas into universities and government. Some members thought that having Wells in their midst would make Fabianism interesting again, and in 1903 the red-bearded George Bernard Shaw, chair of their executive committee, led a group who put up the mustachioed Wells for membership.

Wells, like the younger members who had joined to save the world, was disappointed to find a cliquey institution controlled by Shaw and a few others. Wells served passively for two years, then suggested an inquiry into the society’s effectiveness. He was allowed to deliver his critique, “The Faults of the Fabian,” at a members-only meeting, and began by berating those assembled as inactive, silent on the Boer War and not concerned enough with reforming education. He scoffed at their requirement that applicants obtain letters of recommendation from existing members, as if they were a swanky social club. But his main concern was that while labor organizations were turning manual workers into socialists, not enough was being done to recruit doctors, teachers and other professionals.

“Make socialists and you will achieve socialism,” he exhorted.

[ click to continue reading at NYT ]

Posted on July 26, 2020 by Editor

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How The Plague Begat The Essay

from The New York Times

Montaigne Fled the Plague, and Found Himself

As disease and war ravaged the nation, he left town and invented the essay.

By Robert Zaretsky

In the summer of 1585, the mayor of Bordeaux learned, from the comfort of his nearby chateau, that the bubonic plague had burst upon his city. Those who could were fleeing, he was told, while those who could not were “dying like flies.” What to do? His term in office, on the one hand, was nearly over and his last official duty was to attend the transition ceremony. On the other hand, perhaps his duty was with those still inside the city walls.

Both hands on the reins of his horse, the mayor rode to the city’s edge and wrote to the municipal council to ask whether his life was worth a transition ceremony. He did not seem to receive a reply and returned to his chateau. By the time the plague subsided, more than 14,000 people — about a third of the city’s population — had died horrible deaths. As for the former mayor, he returned to a far more pressing task: the writing of essays.

The mayor was Michel de Montaigne. Known today as the author of the “Essays,” the classic of self-reflection and self-knowing, Montaigne was better perhaps known in his own lifetime as a man of politics. Yet his efforts — quite literally, his essais — at politics and his essais at portraying himself are not unrelated. In both cases, Montaigne probed the limits of what he could do in the world and what he could know about himself.

Bordeaux was a hot spot for both bacteriological and theological plagues in the late 1500s. The wars of religion, a series of eight distinct conflicts between Catholics and Protestants — replete with massacres on both sides — had ravaged France between 1562 and 1598. As both mayor and diplomat, Montaigne tried several times to broker accords between the two sides. He was known (and despised) by both sides as a politique: someone who, for the sake of all, tried to find common ground in a land savaged by zealotry.

[ click to continue reading at NYT ]

Posted on July 15, 2020 by Editor

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LKJ Wins PEN Pinter Prize

from Brixton Blog

Top literature prize for Linton Kwesi Johnson

Linton Kwesi Johnson
Linton Kwesi Johnson

Linton Kwesi Johnson has been awarded this year’s PEN Pinter Prize.

Judges praised his work, saying: “Few post-war figures have been as unwaveringly committed to political expression in their work.”

The local poet and reggae artist will receive the award in a digital ceremony co-hosted by the British Library on 12 October.

The prize was established in 2009 by the charity English PEN, which defends freedom of expression and celebrates literature, in memory of the Nobel Laureate playwright Harold Pinter.

[ click to continue reading at Brixton Blog ]

Posted on July 14, 2020 by Editor

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Kari Gunter-Seymour

from WYSO 91.3

Meet Ohio’s New Poet Laureate: Kari Gunter-Seymour 

By JASON REYNOLDS

Governor Mike DeWine has picked Kari Gunter-Seymour to be Ohio’s new poet laureate.

In the middle of a pandemic and nationwide protests, Kari Gunter-Seymour says poetry is more important than ever.

“When we write our truths, we bring things to light and create understanding. And from there we grow and find our way through these things that are so difficult for us right now,” she says.

And Ohio’s new poet laureate won’t be resting on her laurels. Gunter-Seymour says she applied for the position because it would allow her to bring poetry to people in need.

“The thing that I want to do the very most is work with teens and adults in recovery because of the healing nature of poetry.”

[ click to continue reading at WYSO ]

Posted on June 15, 2020 by Editor

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From The Master

from The New Yorker

Pursuit as Happiness

By Ernest Hemingway

Photo illustration by Ben Giles

That year we had planned to fish for marlin off the Cuban coast for a month. The month started the tenth of April and by the tenth of May we had twenty-five marlin and the charter was over. The thing to have done then would have been to buy some presents to take back to Key West and fill the Anita with just a little more expensive Cuban gas than was necessary to run across, get cleared, and go home. But the big fish had not started to run.

“Do you want to try her another month, Cap?” Mr. Josie asked. He owned the Anita and was chartering her for ten dollars a day. The standard charter price then was thirty-five a day. “If you want to stay, I can cut her to nine dollars.”

“Where would we get the nine dollars?”

“You pay me when you get it. You got good credit with the Standard Oil Company at Belot across the bay, and when we get the bill I can pay them from last month’s charter money. If we get bad weather, you can write something.”

“All right,” I said, and we fished another month. We had forty-two marlin by then and still the big ones had not come. There was a dark, heavy stream close in to the Morro—sometimes there would be acres of bait—and there were flying fish going out from under the bows and birds working all the time. But we had not raised one of the huge marlin, although we were catching, or losing, white marlin each day and on one day I caught five.

We were very popular along the waterfront because we butchered all our fish and gave them away, and when we came in past the Morro Castle and up the channel toward the San Francisco piers with a marlin flag up we could see the crowd starting to run for the docks. The fish was worth from eight to twelve cents a pound that year to a fisherman and twice that in the market. The day we came in with five flags, the police had to charge the crowd with clubs. It was ugly and bad. But that was an ugly and bad year ashore.

[ click to continue reading at The New Yorker ]

Posted on June 2, 2020 by Editor

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“Of course I’m Meg”

from The New York Times

In a New Collection of Old Stories, Madeleine L’Engle Is Back

By Heidi Pitlor

According to Madeleine L’Engle, who died in 2007, “You have to write the book that wants to be written.”Credit…Sigrid Estrada

In “A Wrinkle in Time,” an adolescent girl’s fury is nothing to be renounced — instead, it’s ammunition to be stockpiled in the battle against evil.

“‘Stay angry, little Meg,’ Mrs Whatsit whispered. ‘You will need all your anger now.’” Mrs Whatsit’s words are radical, written as they were decades before the Riot Grrrl and Girl Power movements and their celebration of female wrath. Meg Murry helped pave the way for Hermione Granger, Katniss Everdeen and Beatrice Prior. With some heavy-duty extrapolation, one might say that Murry’s spirit can also be found in the environmental activist Greta Thunberg (mocked by the president of the United States for being “very angry”), Parkland’s gun control advocate Emma González (called an unimpressive “skinhead lesbian” by one Republican candidate) and countless other young women who have harnessed their outrage into political movements against powerful forces.

When asked, Madeleine L’Engle once admitted, “Of course I’m Meg.” For years, L’Engle fought a culture that scorned girls’ emotions and intelligence. She also faced off against a myopic publishing industry. “A Wrinkle in Time” — a book of speculative fantasy woven through with physics, metaphysics and theology — was rejected by 26 publishers before it found a home. Editors questioned whether the audience would be adults or children. The story was not what people expected from middle-grade fiction; perhaps most galling, the book was not just one thing at all. Meg — and maybe Madeleine — could be angry, but also impatient, loyal, insecure, determined, underachieving. Of course a girl — a person — is never just one thing either.

[ click to continue reading at NYT ]

Posted on May 19, 2020 by Editor

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BRIGHT SHINY MORNING for Harry and Meghan

from The Financial Times

Letter: A book on the City of Angels fit for a prince

From Lyndon Heal, Madrid, Spain

While I wouldn’t challenge Janan Ganesh’s assertion (FT Weekend, April 25) that ‘the seminal book about 20th century LA by a London professor (Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies, by Reyner Banham), might I suggest Prince Harry read James Frey’s Bright Shiny Morning as another perfect introduction to the diversity of life in LA.

Lyndon Heal 
Madrid, Spain

[ click to read at FT ]

Posted on May 18, 2020 by Editor

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Lord Of The Real

from The Guardian

The real Lord of the Flies: what happened when six boys were shipwrecked for 15 months

When a group of schoolboys were marooned on an island in 1965, it turned out very differently from William Golding’s bestseller, writes Rutger Bregman

by Rutger Bregman

A still from the 1963 film of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.
 A still from the 1963 film of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Photograph: Ronald Grant

For centuries western culture has been permeated by the idea that humans are selfish creatures. That cynical image of humanity has been proclaimed in films and novels, history books and scientific research. But in the last 20 years, something extraordinary has happened. Scientists from all over the world have switched to a more hopeful view of mankind. This development is still so young that researchers in different fields often don’t even know about each other.

When I started writing a book about this more hopeful view, I knew there was one story I would have to address. It takes place on a deserted island somewhere in the Pacific. A plane has just gone down. The only survivors are some British schoolboys, who can’t believe their good fortune. Nothing but beach, shells and water for miles. And better yet: no grownups.

On the very first day, the boys institute a democracy of sorts. One boy, Ralph, is elected to be the group’s leader. Athletic, charismatic and handsome, his game plan is simple: 1) Have fun. 2) Survive. 3) Make smoke signals for passing ships. Number one is a success. The others? Not so much. The boys are more interested in feasting and frolicking than in tending the fire. Before long, they have begun painting their faces. Casting off their clothes. And they develop overpowering urges – to pinch, to kick, to bite. 

By the time a British naval officer comes ashore, the island is a smouldering wasteland. Three of the children are dead. “I should have thought,” the officer says, “that a pack of British boys would have been able to put up a better show than that.” At this, Ralph bursts into tears. “Ralph wept for the end of innocence,” we read, and for “the darkness of man’s heart”.

This story never happened. An English schoolmaster, William Golding, made up this story in 1951 – his novel Lord of the Flieswould sell tens of millions of copies, be translated into more than 30 languages and hailed as one of the classics of the 20th century. In hindsight, the secret to the book’s success is clear. Golding had a masterful ability to portray the darkest depths of mankind.

[ click to continue reading at The Guardian ]

Posted on May 10, 2020 by Editor

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MILFology

from Inside Hook

The Long and Decorated Literary History of the MILF

From Chaucer to Mrs. Robinson, one of literature’s most subversive archetypes is also a surprisingly old one

BY ELIOTT GROVER

history definition milf
KRISTEN LIU-WONG

“How many of you,” I ask a roomful of half-awake 18-year-old students, “are familiar with the term MILF?” There’s a frenzied exchange of knowing smirks. 

Determined to maintain an academic tone, I ask the next question. “And how many of you know the etymology of this acronym?”

“Mom I’d like to fuck!” one particularly enthusiastic scholar blurts out. 

“Thank you,” I say over the tsunami of snickers. “That’s what it stands for. But where does it come from?”

Roughly half the students in my film elective correctly identify Stifler’s mom, the sultry divorcée from the 1999 comedy American Pie, as MILF Zero, the woman to whom those four letters owe their provenance. “Here’s the thing,” I press on, “Stifler’s mom may be Hollywood’s most explicitly sexualized and predatory mother. But she wouldn’t exist without Mrs. Robinson.”

“Who’s Mrs. Robinson?” a student inevitably asks. And that’s where our unit on The Graduate begins. 

[ click to continue reading at Inside Hook ]

Posted on May 8, 2020 by Editor

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Man Myth Warhol

from The Observer

New Biography ‘Warhol’ Separates the Man From the Myth

By David D’Arcy

Andy in Studio, New York, Union Square, 1976. Michael Childers

Warhol, by Blake Gopnik, begins moments after the militant feminist and Factory hanger-on Valerie Solanas shot the artist in June 1968. Warhol, then 39, lost his heartbeat and a lot of blood, and had gone into cardiac arrest. A bullet that passed through his body punctured a lung. It was thanks to an Italian surgeon who happened to be visiting another patient that the presumed DOA was saved.   

Gopnik’s staggering description of opening up the Warhol’s chest reads more like a slaughterhouse dismemberment than anything medical.    

For Andy Warhol (1928-87), who attended church every week, coming out alive was a miracle. By that fall, despite painful permanent damage to his stomach and esophagus, he turned the slashes on his body into a fashion joke—“I’m so scarred I look like a Dior dress,” he said upon returning to work. Richard Avedon photographed his lacerated midriff as if Warhol were St. Sebastian—a martyr who survived.

[ click to continue reading at Observer ]

Posted on May 5, 2020 by Editor

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Return of The Stoics

from The Guardian

Stoicism in a time of pandemic: how Marcus Aurelius can help

by Donald Robertson

A bust of Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
A bust of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Photograph: DEA/G DAagli Orti/De Agostini via Getty Images

The Meditations, by a Roman emperor who died in a plague named after him, has much to say about how to face fear, pain, anxiety and loss.

The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was the last famous Stoic philosopher of antiquity. During the last 14 years of his life he faced one of the worst plagues in European history. The Antonine Plague, named after him, was probably caused by a strain of the smallpox virus. It’s estimated to have killed up to 5 million people, possibly including Marcus himself.

From AD166 to around AD180, repeated outbreaks occurred throughout the known world. Roman historians describe the legions being devastated, and entire towns and villages being depopulated and going to ruin. Rome itself was particularly badly affected, carts leaving the city each day piled high with dead bodies.

In the middle of this plague, Marcus wrote a book, known as The Meditations, which records the moral and psychological advice he gave himself at this time. He frequently applies Stoic philosophy to the challenges of coping with pain, illness, anxiety and loss. It’s no stretch of the imagination to view The Meditations as a manual for developing precisely the mental resilience skills required to cope with a pandemic.

First of all, because Stoics believe that our true good resides in our own character and actions, they would frequently remind themselves to distinguish between what’s “up to us” and what isn’t. Modern Stoics tend to call this “the dichotomy of control” and many people find this distinction alone helpful in alleviating stress. What happens to me is never directly under my control, never completely up to me, but my own thoughts and actions are – at least the voluntary ones. The pandemic isn’t really under my control but the way I behave in response to it is.

[ click to continue reading at The Guardian ]

Posted on April 26, 2020 by Editor

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COVID Reads

from The Millions

On Pandemic and Literature

by Ed Simon

Less than a century after the Black Death descended into Europe and killed 75 million people—as much as 60 percent of the population (90% in some places) dead in the five years after 1347—an anonymous Alsatian engraver with the fantastic appellation of “Master of the Playing Cards” saw fit to depict St. Sebastian: the patron saint of plague victims. Making his name, literally, from the series of playing cards he produced at the moment when the pastime first became popular in Germany, the engraver decorated his suits with bears and wolves, lions and birds, flowers and woodwoses. The Master of Playing Cards’s largest engraving, however, was the aforementioned depiction of the unfortunate third-century martyr who suffered by order of the Emperor Diocletian. A violent image, but even several generations after the worst of the Black Death, and Sebastian still resonated with the populace, who remembered that “To many Europeans, the pestilence seemed to be the punishment of a wrathful Creator,” as John Kelly notes in The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of all Time.

The cult of Sebastian had grown in the years between the Black Death and the engraving, and during that interim the ancient martyr had become associated with plague victims. His suffering reminded people of their own lot—the sense that more hardship was inevitable, that the appearance of purpled buboes looked like arrows pulled from Sebastian’s eviscerated flesh after his attempted execution, and most of all the indiscrimination of which portion of bruised skin would be arrow-pierced seeming as random as who should die from plague. Produced roughly around 1440, when any direct memory of the greatest bubonic plague had long-since passed (even while smaller reoccurrences occurred for centuries), the Master of the Playing Cards presents a serene Sebastian, tied to a short tree while four archers pummel him with said arrows. Unlike more popular depictions of the saint, such as Andrea Mantegna’s painting made only four decades later, or El Grecoand Peter Paul Reubens’s explicitly lithe and beautiful Sebastians made in respectively the 16th and 17th centuries, the engraver gives us a calm, almost bemused, martyr. He has an accepting smile on his face. Two arrows protrude from his puckered flesh. More are clearly coming.

[ click to continue reading at MM ]

Posted on April 19, 2020 by Editor

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The F-word Re-discovered

from The Daily Mail

World’s earliest record of the F-word is discovered in manuscript written by bored Scottish student in 1568 locked away in the vault of the National Library of Scotland

  • Earliest written use of the F-word dates back to a 500-year-old manuscript
  • Uni student wrote the manuscript as plague locked down his Edinburgh home   
  • It was shown from the National Library of Scotland for a BBC documentary 

By LUKE MAY

The world’s earliest recorded use of the F-word lies in a Scottish manuscript penned by a bored student who was in lockdown due to the plague.

A documentary airing on Tuesday will show off the Bannatyne Manuscript, which dates back to 1568 and is kept under lock and key in the National Library of Scotland. 

Scotland – Contains Strong Language will see singer Cora Bissett take a tour of her country and find out more about Scotland’s relationship with swearing. 

[ click to continue reading at Daily Mail ]

Posted on April 13, 2020 by Editor

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The Bluest Eye

from The New Yorker

Toni Morrison’s Profound and Unrelenting Vision

“The Bluest Eye,” which was published fifty years ago, cut a new path through the American literary landscape by placing black girls at the center of the story.

By Hilton Als

Morrison in 1970, the year that her intellectually expansive, spiritually knowing first novel, “The Bluest Eye,” was published. Photograph from Chester Higgins Archive

Before closing the book on that town and those people, the author has us pause for a few final images and thoughts framed by regret, shame, and horror. The book? Toni Morrison’s début novel, “The Bluest Eye,” which turns fifty this year. As the story ends, one of its protagonists, the blighted Pecola Breedlove, has been more or less abandoned by the townspeople, who have treated her with scorn for most of her life; now she’s left to wander the streets in madness:

The damage done was total. She spent her days, her tendril sap-green days, walking up and down, up and down, her head jerking to the beat of a drummer so distant only she could hear. Elbows bent, hands on her shoulders, she flailed her arms like a bird in an eternal, grotesquely futile effort to fly. Beating the air, a winged but grounded bird, intent on the blue void it could not reach—could not even see—but which filled the valley of the mind.

Spectacular even alongside other early novels bathed in the blood of gothic dread—William Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying” (1930), say, or Flannery O’Connor’s “Wise Blood” or Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” (both published in 1952)—Morrison’s book cut a new path through the American literary landscape by placing young black girls at the center of the story.

Like all the principal characters in “The Bluest Eye,” Pecola lives in Lorain, Ohio, where Morrison, who died last August, was born in 1931. When we meet Pecola, she is eleven years old but already ancient with sorrow. Her only escape from the emotional abuse that her family and her classmates heap on her is to dream. And the dream is this: that someone—God, perhaps—will grant her the gift of blue eyes. The kind of blue eyes Pecola has seen in pictures of the movie star Shirley Temple. The kind of blue eyes that she imagines lighting up the face of the girl on the wrapper of her favorite candies, Mary Janes. Pecola feels, or the world has made her feel, that if she had blue eyes she would, at last, be free—free from her unforgivable blackness, from what her community labelled ugliness long before she could look in a mirror and determine for herself who and what she was. Not that she ever looks in a mirror. She knows what she’d find there: judgment of her blackness, her femaleness, the deforming language that has distorted the reflection of her face. Eventually, Pecola does acquire, or believes she acquires, blue eyes. But in those harrowing final images, Claudia MacTeer, Morrison’s spirited nine-year-old narrator, sees what Pecola cannot, what her madness, the result of all that rejection, looks like to the rest of the town: “Grown people looked away; children, those who were not frightened by her, laughed outright.”

In this short, intellectually expansive, emotionally questioning, and spiritually knowing book, the act of looking—and seeing—is described again and again.

[ click to continue reading at The New Yorker ]

Posted on February 7, 2020 by Editor

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Liz Wurtzel Gone

from CNN

Elizabeth Wurtzel, a controversial writer whose work will live on

Opinion by Holly Thomas

Elizabeth Wurtzel was a pioneer of the confessional memoir.
Elizabeth Wurtzel was a pioneer of the confessional memoir.

The opposite of controversial is irrelevant. So believed Elizabeth Wurtzel, who was herself controversial and will remain relevant for years to come. Wurtzel, a journalist, lawyer and author of “Prozac Nation,” died this week of complications from breast cancer. She was just 52.

Her obstinance in the face of her cancer diagnosis was almost uncomfortable to see. Last year, in a column for the Guardian, she nonsensed everyone who had told her “sorry” about her illness, declaring: “Everyone else can hate cancer. I don’t.”She continued: “I like the person I am with cancer and because of cancer…. I evolved. I am a student of curing the brokedown mirror that shards the brain.” She became an advocate for testing for the BRCA genetic mutation, which she unknowingly carried and which caused her cancer. As was typical in her previous writings about depression, feminism and other topics, she made no allowances for deviating perspectives. She gave only hers.

[ click to continue reading at CNN ]

Posted on January 8, 2020 by Editor

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First Illustrated Book Found

from The Observer

The Oldest Copy of the First Illustrated Book Has Been Discovered in Egypt

By Helen Holmes

Detail from one of the coffins of Gua, chief physician of Djehutyhotep, governor of Bersha. The paintings recall drawings from the Book of Two Ways. Werner Forman/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

It’s always exciting when some kind of human civilizational first is discovered or unearthed by experts, as evidenced by the thrill generated by a recent discovery of cave paintings, thought to be the earliest example of pictorial storytelling, which were uncovered Indonesia. Now, a new study covered this week by the New York Times reports that the oldest copy of the first illustrated book has been found in Egypt by researchers working under the direction of University of Leuven Egyptologist Harco Willems.

Called the Book of Two Ways, the extraordinary narrative told in the tome is about what happens to the soul after death. It’s been dated to be approximately 4,000 years old and at least 4 decades older than any of the other known copies, of which there are approximately two dozen. The text was discovered in a village on the eastern side of the Nile river after Willems’ decision in 2012 to reopen and study the contents of a burial shaft once looted and long abandoned. A detailed report of the findings were published in The Journal of Egyptian Archeology’s September edition.

[ click to continue reading at The Observer ]

Posted on January 3, 2020 by Editor

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Steinbeck’s Knickknacks

from The Observer

John Steinbeck’s Weirdest Knickknacks Are Going Up for Auction in February

By Helen Holmes

John Steinbeck smoking a cigarette at his home in Sag Harbor, Long Island. Getty Images

Within the context of an ultra-modern 21st century that’s increasingly aware of the cultural dominance of white male authors and intent upon dismantling this hegemony, John Steinbeck epitomizes the figure of the 20th century Great American Novelist. He was a profuse chronicler of this country’s underclass and a sprawlingly observant study of human characteristics, and he also based his most evil character, Cathy Ames, upon his ex-wife, a former nightclub singer named Gwyn Conger. Based on recent evidence, it’s also clear that Steinbeck was a fan of deeply weird knickknacks: on February 27, the author’s birthday, a great deal of items formerly owned by the writer of East of Eden will go up for sale under the outfit Curated Estates, which obtained the objects via Steinbeck’s descendants.

Many of the belongings that will be going up for auction feel typical to prolific writers: letters, autographed books and photographs are all among Steinbeck’s collection. Elaine Steinbeck, the author’s third wife, had kept all of these items secure within her estate. However, Steinbeck was also an eccentric who had an affinity for weird home decor. The author held onto a lock of his own hair from when he was a baby, a tiny coffin containing a hummingbird wrapped in multicolored string that was made for him by a witch doctor in Mexico, and a trash basket made out of an elephant’s foot. (Clearly, the author was no staunch conservationist). However, Steinbeck was also in possession of a society invitation that spoke to his influence and popularity: a telegram from John F. Kennedy, inviting him to attend the latter’s 1961 Presidential inauguration.

[ click to continue reading at The Observer ]

Posted on January 2, 2020 by Editor

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Sam & Aaron Taylor-Johnson Fight

from TIME Magazine

Why Sam and Aaron Taylor-Johnson Fought to Get A Million Little Pieces in Front of Audiences

BY SAM LANSKY

Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Sam Taylor-Johnson attend the Build Series to discuss 'A Million Little Pieces' on December 02, 2019 in New York City.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Sam Taylor-Johnson attend the Build Series to discuss ‘A Million Little Pieces’ on December 02, 2019 in New York City. Getty Images—2019 Dominik Bindl

“Do what you want with it.” That was more or less what James Frey told the director Sam Taylor-Johnson when she and her husband, the Golden Globe-winning actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson, approached him about bringing Frey’s 2003 book A Million Little Pieces to the screen. “I’m not going to be there,” Sam remembers Frey saying. “I’m not going to read your script. I may not ever see the movie. But if you respond to the material and you like it, do it!”

For Sam, director of Nowhere Boy and Fifty Shades of Grey, adapting Frey’s bestseller about his struggle to get clean from drugs and alcohol in a Minnesota rehab was a longtime dream. It also ended up proving a challenge: “Every step of the way with this movie has been pushing a boulder up a hill,” she says now. 

[ click to continue reading at TIME ]

Posted on December 12, 2019 by Editor

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James Frey Reads AMERICAN CLASSICS

from Youtube

Posted on November 7, 2019 by Editor

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James Frey AMERICAN CLASSICS

from Instagram

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Posted on October 27, 2019 by Editor

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476 by James Frey

from Instagram

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Posted on September 30, 2019 by Editor

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