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May 15, 2021

A veteran of the Spanish civil war is visited by the ghost of Franco in a deftly handled story of past trauma and deceit

Few writers establish a sense of dread and uncertainty as smoothly as Patrick McGrath. “Hard now to forget the first time I found him in the house. In the house!” opens our narrator, Spanish civil war veteran Francis McNulty. When we meet him he’s an aged poet living in the eponymous unkempt south London square. And the intruder? General Franco in full uniform, medals rusting and the braid coming unstitched from his cuffs, exuding a stench of death or manure or maybe of Spanish jasmine.

But this is Kennington in the summer of 1975; the real general is dying in a palace full of Goyas in Madrid. The women around McNulty gather, like something out of Lorca: daughter Gilly, who works in the foreign office; housekeeper Dolores López, rescued from the civil war by Francis when she was just eight; elder sister Finty, an artist who makes her way down from the Isle of Mull. “Pretty far gone, is it?”, she baldly asks her distressed brother.

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May 14, 2021

A sensitive investigation challenges our understanding of what it means to be missing, and how it feels for those left behind

Every year in the UK 176,000 people go missing. These are the known missing. Some will make the papers, some of their faces shared so widely we feel we know them. Others, the public never hears about. Perhaps they are not young enough, white enough, photogenic enough in the eyes of the press, perhaps they have mental health issues, or are children in care. Then there are the unknown missing, those who voluntarily abscond from their lives, those who are homeless, undocumented immigrants, young people who disappear for weeks at a time while ferrying drugs across county lines. In short, those whose passing out of sight never gets reported.

Such examples create a rupture in our understanding of what it means to be missing: is a person still missing if no one is looking for them, if they go missing more than once (a third of all missing person cases are repeat incidents), if they want to remain gone? At once, the term becomes less clear cut. This is journalist Francisco Garcia’s intention: to interrogate our conception of missing persons, hoping that, by its end, they will no longer be considered “an abstraction” but an inevitable part of contemporary society, operating at the peripheries of all our lives.

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May 14, 2021

Air Miles has been illustrated by his wife Helen Oxenbury and finished by Bill Salaman, friend of the author who died in 2019

The final picture book from the late, much-loved children’s author John Burningham – in which “difficult dog” Miles goes on one final journey – has been completed by his friend Bill Salaman and illustrated by his wife, Helen Oxenbury.

Burningham, who died in 2019 at the age of 82, wrote and illustrated some of the 20th century’s most treasured picture books, from Mr Gumpy’s Outing to Granpa. He was married for more than 50 years to Oxenbury, whose illustrations adorn picture books including We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes. Oxenbury said that when Burningham became ill, he asked her to finish the book he was working on, Air Miles, for him.

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May 14, 2021
Craft projects and gospel choirs.
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May 14, 2021
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s On Grief, Stacey Abrams’ While Justice Sleeps, Edmund de Waal’s Letters to Camondo, and Emily Henry’s People We Meet on Vacation all feature among the Best Reviewed Books of the Week. Brought to you by Book Marks, Lit Hub’s “Rotten Tomatoes for books.”   Fiction 1. People We Meet on Vacation by […]
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May 14, 2021
Here’s something weird and wonderful from way back when: alt-rock icon, occasional indie movie actress, and Hole frontwoman Courtney Love, at the tender age of eleven, tried out for a role on the on the 1977 Mickey Mouse Club—the second incarnation of Disney’s beloved children’s variety television show. If you’re thinking to yourself, Courtney Love, […]
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May 14, 2021
Menand talks about his work of political and cultural history, and Phillip Lopate discusses his three anthologies of American essays.
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May 14, 2021
Today marks fifteen years since the death of Stanley Kunitz, tenth Poet Laureate of the United States and fiercely dedicated teacher. Kunitz once spoke of the importance of reading his work aloud: “I write my poems for the ear . . . in fact, my method of writing a poem is to say it . […]
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May 14, 2021
Somerset’s Combe Florey House, once the family home of Brideshead Revisited author Evelyn Waugh and his son Auberon, is finally for sale—and it’s pretty spectacular, looking onto parkland and water. The grounds include a twelve-bedroom home with red sandstone facades; a pool and pool house; a tennis court; several outbuildings; and a party barn, which […]
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May 14, 2021
Because you can always use another gorgeous library to imagine yourself inside: MAD Architects has built a seaside library in Haikou, China that eschews blocky, familiar design in favor of flowing forms mimicking the clouds and sea that surround it. Essentially, it’s a cloudlike paradise on the water—are you sold yet? The building, made of […]
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May 14, 2021
Ah, the month of May: the days are long, the weather is perfect for light jackets, and the trees are taking their revenge for climate change by blowing pollen directly into our sinuses. In short, summer is near. And lest you thought that the Summer of Scam ended with the announcement of two separate Anna […]
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May 14, 2021
It is a well known and oft-romanticized fact that the Brontë sisters—and the Brontë brother, for that matter—all died young, one after the other, leaving moody, moor-y masterpieces in their wake. Officially, they all suffered from tuberculosis, or complications thereof, and unofficially, they all died of grief for one another, but as I learned this […]
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May 14, 2021
Last evening in a virtual ceremony, Raven Leilani was awarded the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize—an annual £20,000 prize given to the best literary English-language work by an author aged 39 or under—for her debut novel Luster. With this win, Leilani joins a roster of previous winners including Bryan Washington, Guy Gunaratne, and Joshua Ferris. […]
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May 14, 2021
John Lithgow, beloved actor, author, Grammy-nominated vocalist, and Trump satirist-in-verse, recorded William Maxwell’s So Long, See You Tomorrow in December. (You can purchase tickets here.) He shared some first-person insight on his recording experience and his connection to Maxwell’s work. On acting in different mediums: All acting work is more similar than different. I’m frequently […]
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May 14, 2021
The best book deals of the day, curated by Book Riot.
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May 14, 2021
In On the Genealogy of Morality Friedrich Nietzsche considers the nature of revenge. People with power, he suggests, can take a literal revenge on their enemies: an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. People with little or no power, Nietzsche writes, when “denied the proper response of action, compensate for it […]
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May 14, 2021

The Trojan Women by Anne Carson with Rosanna Bruno; The Gododdin by Gillian Clarke; Hotel Raphael by Rachel Boast; American Mules by Martina Evans; pandemonium by Andrew McMillan

Even at its best, the poetic mainstream we call the lyric tradition can run the risk of appearing po-faced. So it’s a joy to come across a mistress of the art taking rumbustious pleasure in revisiting the matter of poetry itself. Anne Carson’s new version of EuripidesThe Trojan Women (Bloodaxe), with artist and cartoonist Rosanna Bruno, is resolutely subtitled A Comic; and a graphic novel is exactly what it is.

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May 14, 2021
Your weekly roundup of literary links around the web.
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May 14, 2021
These hanging bookshelves include boho macrame shelves, industrial book racks, and other suspended book displays.

- Danika Ellis

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May 14, 2021
A daydream of a perfect reading day spent in Hawai‘i, reading poetry on the beach and listening to audiobooks on the way to the bookstore.
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May 14, 2021
Get your heart racing with the best in new psychological thrillers from 2021, as well as 2020 releases. Find them all now.
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May 14, 2021
The best book nook shelf inserts, ranging from beautifully simple silhouettes inspired by children's books to creepy horror scenes.

- Katie Moench

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May 14, 2021

Seeing queer elders like Kumiko in Shadow Life represented in graphic novels offers a portal to possible futures.

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May 14, 2021

For book lovers, there’s no better place to start with TTRPGs than with one of these 10 roleplaying games based on books, including a Watership Down TTRPG!

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May 14, 2021
A ghost is never just a ghost, because it always represents something more than itself. Here is some of the symbolism of hauntings in horror.
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