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This Is Pleasure by Mary Gaitskill review pitch perfect response to #MeToo

The American writers extraordinary novella tells the story of one mans fall from grace with real nerve Ostensibly, it seems quite shameless of Serpents Tail to have put Mary Gaitskills This Is Pleasure between hard covers. Her novella runs to a mere 84 tiny pages, each one printed in a typeface so large, the middle-aged will not even need to put on their glasses to read it; the story has, moreover, already Shitty Media Men (a list of allegations about various individuals in American publishing) that circulated on the internet…

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Trust Exercise by Susan Choi review masterly study of power and its abuses

The Pulitzer-nominated novelist develops the issues raised by #MeToo within the setting of a suburban American drama school Sarah and David, 15-year-olds at an elite and unconventional drama school in 1980s suburban America, fall in love. An early misunderstanding is manipulated by a charismatic teacher, Mr Kingsley, who sets a series of emotionally exposing improvisations known as trust exercises to confuse and divide them, using adolescent emotion as the raw material of his art. Then visiting teacher Martin arrives from England: he seduces Sarahs best friend Karen with a callousness…

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Top 10 end-of-the-world novels

Fresh from writing his own first sci fi thriller, physicist and broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili chooses favourite books that tackle the Earth in peril Having written a books, I decided three years ago to try my hand at fiction. How hard could it be, I reasoned arrogantly. Well, harder than I thought. But I enjoyed writing Margaret Atwoods In Sunfall, science is trying to save the world. So, here are my top 10 end-of-the-world science fiction books: 1. line on climate change, I cannot but admire the man who gave us…

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Anti-vaxxers, the Momo challenge … why lies spread faster than facts

With Trump making six false claims a day and bogus Brexit claims spreading, we live in a disorienting post-truth era. It all began with the David Irving trial, writes Jonathan Freedland The queasiness keeps coming back, a very specific malady that I thought Id put behind me nearly 20 years ago. But each time I read about, say, the bogus version of the Momo challenge, or the rise and rise of the anti-vaxxer movement, the symptoms return, stronger than ever. If asked by a doctor to describe the sensation, Id…

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Odds and Ends 

Inside the pay-for-post ICO industry

In a world where nothing can be trusted and fake news abounds, ICO and crypto teams are further muddying the waters by trying – and often failing – to pay for posts. While bribes for blogs is nothing new, sadly the current crop of ICO creators and crypto projects are particularly interested in scaling fast and many ICO CEOs are far happier with scammy multi-level marketing tricks than real media relations. The worst part of this spammy, scammy ecosystem is the service providers. A new group of media organizations are…

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Joy Division inspired me to write but could I write about their music? | Sophie Mackintosh

Man Booker longlisted author Sophie Mackintosh explains how writing a short story based on Unknown Pleasures led her back to the music that made her want to be an author Two years ago, I received an email inviting me to contribute to a short-story anthology on Joy Division. It would be a literary reimagining of their 1979 debut Unknown Pleasures the only Joy Division album released during singer Ian Curtiss lifetime with each author assigned one of the songs and left free to interpret it however they liked. I was…

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Zora Neale Hurston study of last survivor of US slave trade to be published

Due in May, Barracoon is based on the novelists 1931 interviews with Cudjo Lewis, who had arrived in the US in 1860 A previously unpublished work by Zora Neale Hurston, in which the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God recounts the true story of the last known survivor of the Atlantic slave trade, is set to be released next year, more than half a century after her death in 1960. Barracoon is based on the three months Hurston spent in Plateau, Alabama, in 1931, interviewing Cudjo Lewis, who had…

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Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

A lecture explaining why using our imaginations, and providing for others to use theirs, is an obligation for all citizens Its important for people to tell you what side they are on and why, and whether they might be biased. A declaration of members interests, of a sort. So, I am going to be talking to you about reading. Im going to tell you that libraries are important. Im going to suggest that reading fiction, that reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can do. Im…

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Crimes of the Father by Thomas Keneally review something rotten in Catholicism

The Booker prize winners powers remain undimmed, as he shines a light on institutionalised abuse, and denial, in the Catholic church, It is over half a century since a young the church turns a blind eye. Psychologist and monk Father Frank Docherty is, his younger brother says (and no doubt speaking for the author), the real bloody deal as far as priests go. Exiled by his home cardinal in Sydney as a young priest in the 1970s, on account of his radicalism, opposition to apartheid and the Vietnam war, he…

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Bernard MacLaverty: The story you have just finished is of little help to writing the next one

Acclaimed Northern Irish writer Bernard MacLaverty has taken 16 years to finish his latest novel. A lot of things just got in the way, he says In his jacket endorsement for Bernard MacLavertys Midwinter Break, the celebrated American novelist Richard Ford describes the new book as much-anticipated. It is a polite way of saying that MacLavertys fifth novel has been taken its time in coming. Sixteen years, to be precise, since his last, The Cone Gatherers, which finally came to nought when the producer behind the project died; a collection…

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