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Readings

Excerpts from the best and most bizarre new books, testimonies, government documents, journals, news reports, speeches, and letters.

Built to Spill

From a conversation about Afghanistan between the Iranian writers Salar Abdoh and Mohammad Hossein Jafarian, which was published in September by Guernica. salar abdoh: Do you think that America was…

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Buy the Numbers

From Trapped in the Present Tense, which will be published next month by Counterpoint Press. It’s possible to construct a statistical mosaic of American life out of the 332 million…

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Kids Say the Darndest Things

From a conversation between Olaf Scholz and two eleven-year-olds, Pauline and Romeo, who were interviewing candidates for chancellor of Germany. The exchange aired in September on Late Night Berlin. Scholz…

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Killing Time

From an essay that appeared in the Fall 2021 issue of The Threepenny Review. Yesterday, while on extended hold with an appliance store, I deleted dead people from my Contacts.…

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Naked As We Came

From Fight Night, a novel, which was published in October by Bloomsbury. Almost every day Grandma gets a call about someone she knows being dead. You can tell because she…

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Writing Wrongs

From prompts in 642 Things to Write About, a book distributed to seniors at Hudson High School in Hudson, Ohio. In September, after parents complained that the book asked students…

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Claus and Effect

From the 2021 Red Suit Survey, which polled hundreds of professional Santas in the United States. What made you decide to be a Santa? I had the look I had…

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Angel

From Issue 14 of Lana Turner. When I was almost a woman the men in the radio called someone I thought might be me an angel and a baby. I…

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Dance Dance Revolution

From Free, a memoir of life in Albania, which was published last month in the United Kingdom by Penguin. In 1995, my father began to practice his English with “the…

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Melancholy & the Infinite Sadness

From The Perishing, which will be published this month by Counterpoint Press. My name is Sarah Shipley and I’ve slept with five women. Since I married a man, no one…

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Book of the Dead

From In the Midst of Civilized Europe, which was published last month by Metropolitan Books. In the years after the Holocaust, survivors began compiling memorial books, one for each city…

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Lip Service

From a photograph tweeted in August by Christian Climate Action of Tim Hewes, an Anglican priest, at the News Corp. offices in London. Hewes sewed his lips together to protest the…

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Meltdowns

From the website mcbroken.com, which tracks broken McDonald’s ice-cream machines across the United States. The machines break down frequently, and McDonald’s franchises are obligated to hire a certified repair person…

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Three Deer, Sharon Springs, November, 2020

From a manuscript in progress. His poetry collection Howdie-Skelp will be published this month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Got up though they may be in heavy-duty gabardine they cavort…

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Country Toads Take My Home

From headlines since 2003 in the Sydney Morning Herald about Australia’s rapidly spreading population of invasive cane toads. Top End Turns into Cane Toad Heaven Invasion Spreads The City Strikes…

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Flesh and Blood

From The Dawn of Everything, which will be published this month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. In the mid-twentieth century, a British anthropologist named A. M. Hocart proposed that monarchs…

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The Library of Babble

From summaries of books in the library of Hernando Colón, composed by him and his staff and collected in Libro de los Epítomes. The manuscript was discovered in 2019 among…

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Total Recall

From the website of the consultant Tony Rodrigues, who sells courses for $39.99 claiming to help customers recover suppressed memories of interactions with aliens. Rodrigues says he served first as…

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Duck!

From “Call of Nature,” an essay that appeared in Issue 2 of Facility: A Magazine About Bathrooms. Humans, earthbound and stuck within seemingly unbreakable systems of oppression, have long admired…

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The Mourning After

From On Freedom, which was published last month by Graywolf Press. Time and time again, users testify in drug literature to a sense that substances are imbued with things we…

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End Rhymes

From “A Conversation About Trees,” which appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of The Sewanee Review. I set out here to construct an argument about “nature poetry,” in order eventually…

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Publish or Perish

From game play of Small Press Tycoon, a publishing industry simulation game released this year by Inpatient Press. The player begins the game with $1,000 and answers a series of…

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Tangled Up in Blue

From the book When We Cease to Understand the World. The book, a fictionalized retelling of a series of scientific and mathematical discoveries, was published last month by New York…

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Colored Angel Levine

The story will be published in the collection Look For Me and I’ll Be Gone next month by Scribner. Dedicated to Bernard Malamud. A colored angel named Levine said to…

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Winner Fakes All

From factors professional athletes have invoked since 2000 in explaining why they tested positive for banned substances. Whiskey Ten burgers and two steaks from Mexico Uncastrated wild boar meat Deer…

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Heaven or St. Louis

From an essay that considers the album It’ll End in Tears by This Mortal Coil, and is included in the collection Long Players, which was published in August by Bloomsbury.…

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Chamber of Secrets

During her time working as a chambermaid at a Venetian hotel in 1981, Calle took photographs of the rooms she was assigned to clean. The Hotel, which includes her observations…

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Negative Thinking

From a letter written by the avant-garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas to his peer and friend Stan Brakhage in April 1966. It is included in the anthology Letters as Films, edited…

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