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On Harlan Ellison’s ‘Greatest Hits’

Greatest Hits assembles Ellison’s most popular, award-bedecked stories, science fiction or sci-fi adjacent all, mostly from his middle and early-late career, when he was at the apogee of his powers. Selections include “The Deathbird,” “The Whimper of Whipped Dogs,” “Shatterday,” “The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World” (God, he was good with titles), and other winners of Nebulas, Hugos, and Locuses. Given the fact that many of his best books are out of print and the behemoth The Essential Ellison (1987) costs a fortune, this book, while hyperfocused on his sci-fi output, is both an excellent introduction to the man for neophytes and a convenient volume for acolytes. Read more

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Dublin Literary Award Won by Romanian Author Mircea Cartarescu

Romanian author Mircea Cărtărescu and American translator Sean Cotter have won the €100,000 Dublin literary award for the novel Solenoid. “By turns wildly inventive, philosophical and lyrical, with passages of great beauty, Solenoid is the work of a major European writer who is still relatively little-known to English-language readers,” said the judges. Read more

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In Honor of Duke Ellington: Here Are 15 Great Books About Jazz

Can a sentence swing and a paragraph bop? Is it possible for prose to be as stripped down and cool as a Miles Davis trumpet solo, or a poem to be as incantatory as John Coltrane’s saxophone? Despite all of the musical genres which the United States contributed to contemporary culture, most of them born from the specifically African American experience it should be added, jazz remains in many ways the lodestar of our melodic and rhythmic firmament, the “Classical Music” of America (as complicated as that assertion might be). Read more

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Can You Read a Book in a Quarter of an Hour?

Blinkist is an app. If I had to summarize what it does, I would say that it summarizes like crazy. It takes an existing book and crunches it down to a series of what are called Blinks. On average, these amount to around two thousand words. Some of the books that get Blinked are gleamingly new, such as “Leading with Light,” by Jennifer Mulholland and Jeff Shuck, which was published in March; other books are so old that they were written by people whose idea of a short-haul flight involved feathers and wax. In the realm of nonfiction alone, more than six and a half thousand works have been subjected to the Blinkist treatment. Across all platforms, there have been thirty-one million downloads on the app. Right now, there will be somebody musing over Blinks of “Biohack Your Brain,” “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin,” or “The Power of Going All-In,” which is, I am sorry to report, yet another study of successful leadership. Given the title, I was hoping that it might be about breakfast buffets, or the best way to behave yourself at an orgy. Read more

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Why I Kept My Kinks a Secret by R. O. Kwon

Kink is a large, shifting term, with outlines etched less by what it is than is not, this single word applied to an ever-changing negative space. Lina Dune, a prominent kink writer and podcaster, defines kink as any sexual act or practice diverging “one tiny step outside of what you were brought up to believe is acceptable.” So, bondage, sadomasochism, fetishes, and role play are examples of kinks, and these aren’t fringe penchants. By some measures, 40% to 70% of people might be kinky; given the stigma, this estimate could be on the low end. Read more

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