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Readings

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

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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Pump Action

From images released this summer by the Ukrainian military of female soldiers preparing for a parade celebrating thirty years of independence from the Soviet Union. Read More

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White Serpent

From Flight and Metamorphosis, a poetry collection, which will be published in March by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Sachs (1891–1970) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1966. Translated…

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The 500-Year-Old Sturgeon

From “Fish in a barrel: Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus) from the Baltic Sea wreck of the royal Danish flagship Gribshunden (1495),” by Stella Macheridis et al., which appeared in the…

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The Mothership

From Everything and Less, which will be published next month by Verso. A version of this essay appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of American Literary History. There is a…

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Math Rock

From “One, Two, Three . . . Infinity,” an essay in the anthology Ways of Hearing, which will be published this month by Princeton University Press. My father wanted his own orchestra.…

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Late Edition

From Anecdotes, a collection of vignettes that originally appeared in Kleist’s newspaper Berliner Abendblätter, which began publication in 1810. Kleist took his own life the following year. The collection will…

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About Face

From “Stories to Black-and-White Sketches by Alex Katz,” translated from the German. the foam-born Drawings by Alex Katz, from the series Beauty Portfolio, 2017–19 © The artist/VAGA at Artists Rights…

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Fan Mail

From emails sent to the City of Oakland last year about a wild peacock living in a North Oakland neighborhood. The records were obtained by Adrien Salzberg at MuckRock. I’ve…

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Moments of Silence

From Crazy Sorrow, a novel, which will be published this month by Simon and Schuster. Fall passed to winter passed to early spring. All of it mild—God’s little favor. Arthur…

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Machine Yearning

From “Sex with Robots: Therapeutic Challenges and Opportunities,” an online lecture presented by Twist, a professor at the University of Wisconsin–Stout, and hosted by the International Online Sexology Supervisors. Digisexuality…

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