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The American Muck 

45 minutes agoEntertainment / Books : Slate: Books

Let’s say you are a writer sitting down to pen your first novel. Your narrator’s biography borrows from your own: He spends his early years in Southern Illinois before he is uprooted and dragged to the unyielding red clay of rural Virginia during the 1970s. Show More Summary

I Called Myself a Bitch, and Then Thought Twice About It

Last week, I called myself a bitch. It was shorthand, really. I had an unpleasant exchange with a male banker and left feeling that the only way to be taken seriously was to act like a bitch. In writing about the experience, what I found...Show More Summary

Beautiful Day!

The Fall of Language in the Age of English, by the Japanese novelist and scholar Minae Mizumura, has all the ingredients of a rage-read. Indeed, when it was published in Japan in 2008, it infuriated commentators, who dismissed Mizumura as “reactionary,” “jingoistic,” or “elitist” and swarmed across Amazon deleting positive reviews. Show More Summary

Tips for Writing Amazon Reviews

What if a car manufacturer was to drop off a brand new car to a person's home, completely at random, and explain they had 24 hours to drive the car? Afterward, they would take the car to another home at random and do the same thing, and repeat for three months. Show More Summary

Abundance and Praise and Pleasure

Excerpted from Specimen Days and Collect, by Walt Whitman, with an introduction by Leslie Jamison, published in November 2014 by Melville House. What is Specimen Days? It doesn’t sit easily in any genre. It’s restless in its recounting. Show More Summary

The Secret to Doing What You Love (and Being a Runaway Success at It)

"When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn." -Harriet Beecher Stowe "Do what you love" may be the most overused advice in the career-improvement world. Show More Summary

‘My Documents,’ by Alejandro Zambra

Alejandro Zambra’s stories draw from the age of computers and the legacy of Pinochet.

The Shortlist: Kate Alcott’s ‘A Touch of Stardust,’ and More

New books by Kate Alcott, Michael Callahan, Angelina Mirabella and Christopher Noxon.

Harlequin History

“How did a humble Canadian publisher—which got its start reprinting other companys’ books—become the name most associated with romance? It’s a long story, involving a peripatetic former fur trader and his opinionated socialite wife,Show More Summary

India’s Forgotten Feminist Epic

Last year, as the crisis of sexual violence in India continued to make the news, I picked up an eleven-hundred-page-long novel called “This Is Not That Dawn” by Yashpal, who died in 1976. The book was written in Hindi and originally published in two installments, in 1958 and 1960. Show More Summary

One-Dimensional Man?

There is a wonderful description of Michel Houellebecq in Anthony Daniels' New Criterion essay ("France's Submission,'"2015). Firstly here is Daniels on the writer's credo: "Houellebecq is a writer with 'a single underlying theme: the...Show More Summary

‘The Upstairs Wife,’ by Rafia Zakaria

A personal look at the place of women in Pakistani culture.

‘The Boatmaker,’ by John Benditt

In this first novel, a loner is intent on a greater understanding of the civilized world, and his place in it.

Thomas McGuane’s ‘Crow Fair’

Thomas McGuane’s story collection, his first in nine years, returns to the untamed spaces of his native Montana.

‘Richard John Neuhaus,’ by Randy Boyagoda

A biography of the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, an intellectual maverick of 20th-century Roman Catholicism.

Inside the List

Jill Alexander Essbaum, whose “Hausfrau” is No. 16 on the hardcover fiction list, once called the Bible “a voluptuous buffet of bawd!”

Open Book: Losing the Plot

Heidi Julavits says she used to associate journal-keeping “with uncertainty — it was about wondering about my future and who I would be.”

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