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How the Supreme Court Empowered the Police and Subverted Civil Rights

Whether the furor unleashed by Black Lives Matter will lead to state and city governments reforming their police departments is yet to be seen, but all lawmakers, in fact all concerned citizens, need to read this book. It is an eloquent and damning indictment not only of horrific police practices, but also of the justices who condoned them and continue to do so. Read more

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The Body Scout by Lincoln Michel

The plot moves fast and features well-wrought if expected worldbuilding details, including floating billboards, advanced drug and gene therapies, cybernetic rebuilds, obnoxious and über-wealthy CEOs, and ecological collapse. Readers won’t need to be baseball fans to enjoy this gripping ride. Read more

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First edition copy of ‘Frankenstein’ sells for over $1 million at auction

Christie’s, which hosted the auction, estimated the book would go for $200,000 to $300,000. But by selling for nearly four to six times as much, the book set a record for the highest price paid for a published work by a woman, according to Fine Books Magazine. Read more

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Does billionaire contrarian Peter Thiel contain multitudes? A biography weighs in

Among other things, Thiel is: an immigrant who advocates for a clampdown on immigration; a jingoistic nationalist who has sworn allegiance to the country of New Zealand; an advocate of greater government spending on science research who denies the scientific consensus on climate change; a devout Christian who (per Chafkin) hosts drug-fueled orgies and covets God-like immortality; and a privacy champion who founded a spyware company. Read more

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Pennsylvania students are protesting their school district’s ban on books by authors of color

Last October, the Central York school board unanimously banned a list of resources written by authors of color and featuring main characters of color. The banned resources range from I Am Not Your Negro, an Oscar-nominated PBS documentary about James Baldwin; to a statement on racism from the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators; to a children’s coloring book featuring African Adrinkra symbols; to an African-themed cookbook. Read more

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Who will buy the skinny house where Edna St. Vincent Millay, William Steig, and Margaret Mead lived?

Good news for the rich and thin! New York City’s narrowest home is 9 1/2 feet wide, and—of course—is on the market for just under five million dollars. On its own, this news wouldn’t be worthy of inclusion in our fine literary blog, but in addition to its unusual dimensions and eye-popping dimensions, the Greenwich Village townhouse has a storied literary history. Edna St. Vincent Millay lived in the house in the early 1920s, and William Steig and his wife lived there with his sister-in-law, Margaret Mead. Another children’s book author, Ann McGovern, not only lived in the house, but also wrote a picture book inspired by it—Mr. Skinner’s Skinny House—in which the titular character, along with his long dog and thin snake, search for a suitable roommate. Read more

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Pittsburgh poet Toi Derricotte wins Academy of American Poetry prize for her ‘proven mastery’

Toi Derricotte, the revered, award-winning poet and professor emerita of English at the University of Pittsburgh. has known for about a month that she was the recipient of a major prize from the Academy of American Poetry, but she had to keep it a secret. This week, Ms. Derricotte was able to share her secret when it was officially announced that she is the recipient of its 2021 Wallace Stevens Award. Read more

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Poet Patricia Smith wins $100,000 lifetime achievement award

Patricia Smith has won the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement, a $100,000 honor presented by the Chicago-based Poetry Foundation. Previous winners include W.S. Merwin, Kay Ryan and the current poet laureate, Joy Harjo. Smith is known for such collections as “Blood Dazzler” and “Incendiary Art,” a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2018. Read more

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