Dead Poet Anxiety | John Ashbery in the Age of Social Media

David Schurman Wallace

Sometimes the best thing for a poet’s reputation is to die. It is preferable to do this while still young — a brief life can acquire a powerful shape, in the way Keats’s “This Living Hand” is more charged for breaking off abruptly. We stand, as they say, on the shoulders of giants, and after they are interred in the pantheon, we draw from their mythos as well as their...

Parent Trap | Fiction

Hannah Gold

I. Early on in my publishing career, which was still early when it ended, I looked up what “congenial” means on my phone but it autofilled “congenital” into the dictionary due to prior use. In this way I came to believe “congenial” means having an essential condition or deformation present since birth. By the time I realized my mistake I’d already migrated from the world of reputable words to that...

Case Sensitive | Why We Shouldn't Capitalize "Black"

Nicholas Whittaker

Every so often, an apparently seismic shift in American race talk occurs — “Negro” to “black” in the 1960s, “black” to “African American” in the 1980s, and back to “black” more recently. The summer of 2020 marked the latest linguistic revolution, as a swath of major news outlets opted, as a rule, to capitalize the “B” in “black” — a change swiftly embraced in everyday use. The linguistic revolution took place...

XOXO, Ruling Class | Gossip Girl, The O.C., and the New Gilded Age

David Klion

In 1976, the year Josh Schwartz was born in Providence, one tenth of one percent of American households controlled 7.5 percent of the nation’s wealth. By 1995, the year Schwartz graduated from a private, arts-oriented high school, that share had risen to 13.5 percent. By 2003, when the Schwartz-penned high school drama The O.C. premiered on Fox, it was at 15.9 percent; by 2007, when the Schwartz-produced Gossip Girl premiered...

“A New Form of War” | An Interview with Samuel Moyn

The Drift

Since 2008, politicians have campaigned (successfully) on the promise to get out of Afghanistan. Finally, this August, U.S. forces withdrew, and the government our military had installed unravelled overnight. After nearly twenty years, it was now clear, the U.S. had accomplished nothing besides untold death and destruction. All at once, prominent commentators emerged to decry the move and lambaste the Biden administration for its strategic blunder. To take the long...

Other People’s Despair | Mending the Social Fabric Won't Fix the Suicide Crisis

Erik Baker

Last March, in the early weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic, Donald Trump issued a warning: in what would soon become an incessant refrain among opponents of lockdowns and mandatory social-distancing measures, he claimed that unless the country was swiftly opened back up, there would be “suicides by the thousands.” Trump’s particular prophecy was clearly ridiculous, and it became more so with each passing month. But it was by no means...

Real Estate: Fables | Poetry

Adrienne Raphel

The Lion & the Statue David has fifty-nine apartments for rent and twenty-six lease takeovers to see. Beautiful, sun-drenched, south-facing. Duck light. Private dock, semi-private outdoor space, roof deck, live band. Tortured orchard, koi pond.  The client’s representative drinks tap water from a Fiji bottle.  We can easily represent things as we wish them to be. ** The Ass & His Shadow All the agents have their own listings, but...

The Translation Trap | Latin American Literature and the International Market

Julia Kornberg

The unnamed narrator of Valeria Luiselli’s 2011 novel Faces in the Crowd is a young Mexican woman living in Brooklyn and working, as many F-1 literary types do, at a small translation press. She spends half of the week visiting libraries around the city, carrying huge backpacks full of books while she searches for Spanish-language writers worth translating or reissuing. The rest of her time is spent in the press’s...

Fiction Detective | On Literary Citation and Search Engine Sleuthing

Sophie Haigney

At the end of Miranda Popkey’s novel Topics of Conversation, there is a short section titled “Works (Not) Cited.”1 She writes, “This manuscript emerged in part from an engagement with and in some cases refers elliptically to the following texts, televisions shows, films, web series, works of art, songs, e-mail newsletters, and podcasts.” The list of these works is roughly four pages long. I read it like a sleuth, trying...

Editors’ Note | Party Time

There are many consequences to the fact that an extremely high percentage of the American media lives in New York. The limitations of this situation become particularly apparent during, say, California wildfire season, or when anything else happens in any other part of the country. Meanwhile, faraway readers of our hometown national newspaper are treated to in-depth analyses of the subtle social hierarchies being hashed out in what amounts to...

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