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Readings

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

Spit Take

From A Czech Dreambook, published last month by Karolinum. Vaculík, a Czech dissident, was the author of “Two Thousand Words,” a June 1968 manifesto that called for the democratization of…

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Here and There

From Apeirogon, published this month by Random House. The book is a fictionalized account of the lives of Bassam Aramin, a Palestinian, and Rami Elhanan, an Israeli. Aramin’s ten-year-old daughter,…

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Fear Factors

From the 2018 Chapman University Survey of American Fears. The list is included in Fear Itself, by Christopher D. Bader, Joseph O. Baker, L. Edward Day, and Ann Gordon, published this…

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Stages of Life and Death within the Landscape and Still Life

Stages of Life and Death within the Landscape and Still Life, a painting by Mimi Lauter, whose work will be on view in March at Blum & Poe, in New…

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Farther Away

From his prose poem, Underworld Lit, which will be published in August by Wave Books. Though my catalog search under “postpartum depression” turns up everything from Euripides’ Medea to the…

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As You Wish

From actions since 2006 taken by American companies and institutions to appease China. Censored music that refers to the Tiananmen Square massacreCanceled a lecture on women’s rightsRemoved an app that…

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The Country in the Woman

From Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick, a book of short stories including previously uncollected work, published this month by Amistad. “L ooka heah Cal’line, you oughta stop dis heah…

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Leftovers

From Children of the Land, a memoir published this month by Harper. Hernandez Castillo was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States when he was five years old.…

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Paperback to the Future

From Unfinished Business: Notes of a Chronic Re-reader, a collection of essays published next month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The other day I was asked a question of fact…

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Minor Threats

By Jean Genet, from The Criminal Child: Selected Essays, published this month by NYRB Classics. This text is an abridged version of the essay “The Criminal Child,” which was commissioned…

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Powers for Algernon

From news reports of tasks that various types of rodents have been trained to perform. Distinguish healthy patients from tuberculosis patientsDistinguish Japanese speech from Dutch speechFear cherry blossomsFear terrorists

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An Instant of Nowhere

From “Translating Paul Blackburn,” published in The Next Loves, a collection of poetry that was released in September by Nightboat Books. Translated from the French by Lindsay Turner. Finally I…

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Kindergarten Cops

From records of alleged behavior by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, as reported by unaccompanied minors, dating from 2009 to 2014. The A.C.L.U. Foundation of San Diego and Imperial…

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Deadly Poets Society

From My War Criminal: Personal Encounters with an Architect of Genocide, out this month from Ecco. The book recounts the author’s interviews, conducted between October 2014 and November 2016, with…

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Workbench with Underwood

Workbench with Underwood, a painting by Dickon Drury, whose work was on view in August at Koppe Astner, in Glasgow, Scotland. Courtesy the artist; Koppe Astner, Glasgow, Scotland; and Galerie…

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Faulty Towers

From reports of conditions in the New York City Housing Authority’s public-housing units since 2017. Unidentified children likely poisoned by lead paintMold in the apartments of asthmaticsBroken air conditioners in…

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The Pillar

Photographs by Stephen Gill from The Pillar, a monograph published this year by Nobody Books. Gill photographed a pillar and the birds it attracted on his property in Skåne, Sweden,…

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Being in Nothingness

From The Longing for Less: Living with Minimalism, a work of criticism that will be published next month by Bloomsbury. In the midst of existence, most living things deny time.…

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Clear History

Past behaviors, described and reported online, that individuals successfully lobbied Google to remove from its search results under the European Union’s “right to be forgotten” law. Publishing a poem on…

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“Composition with Painted Cutouts”

“Composition with Painted Cutouts,” a photograph by Nico Krijno, whose work was on view in June at Elizabeth Houston Gallery, in New York City. Read More

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The Beast in Me

From South American Journals, a collection of Ginsberg’s spiritual writing published last month by the University of Minnesota Press. This entry is the author’s account of an ayahuasca experience in…

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Our Town

Our Town, a painting by Amy Bennett, whose work was on view in August at Miles McEnery Gallery, in New York City. Courtesy the artist and Miles Mcenery Gallery, New…

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I Follow the Sunlight Around the Lawn

From Little Hill, which will be published in April by City Lights. I follow the sunlight around the lawn With a ridiculous plastic chair A chair has its task and…

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Song of My Shelf

From sentences in movie reviews by James Patterson. I’m a little nuts and a little sickIt should be obvious that I like preposterous storiesStephen King commented that he doesn’t have…

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Roy Meets World

From an untitled essay in Book of Roy, a collection of photographs by Neil Drabble that was published in October by MACK. Tillman’s essay accompanies Drabble’s photographs of an American…

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The Sleepwalkers and Rope-a-Dope

The Sleepwalkers and Rope-a-Dope, mixed-media artworks by Deborah Roberts, whose work was on view in July at Stephen Friedman Gallery, in London. Courtesy the artist and The Studio Museum in…

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Single Blood

For Rebeca López, from Bleeding from All 5 Senses, published this month by White Pine Press. Translated from the Spanish by Cole Heinowitz. You were born from the sperm of…

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Protocol or: A Contribution on the Renaissance as Compiled Jointly with My Uncle Josef

From Why I Write?, a collection of prose published this month by Karolinum Press. Hrabal (1914–1997) was a Czech writer known for his novels Closely Watched Trains and I Served…

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February 2020