Down to a science

by Ben Greenman and ChatGPT

I am in a basement. I see. Is there anything specific you need assistance with while you are in the basement? I do need assistance, though perhaps not in the way you are thinking. Which raises an interesting question. Are you, in fact, thinking? As an AI language model, I do not “think” in the same way that humans do. However, I am designed to simulate human-like responses and engage in conversation with users. By “the user,” do you mean me? Yes, by “the user” I am referring to you, the individual who is interacting with me. Oh. Funny. I […]

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Literary treat: ‘Bite By Bite,’ by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

by Jonah Raskin

There couldn’t be a better title for the latest book by Aimee Nezhukumatathil: Bite by Bite: Nourishments and Jamborees (Ecco; $26.99). This account by the author of the popular essay collection World of Wonders serves vivid, heartfelt vignettes about food and four generations of family—from her grandparents and parents to her children who devour the often distinct and wonderful fruits that their mother puts on the table with panache. Nezhukumatathil’s children may not know or remember that “jamborees” are defined as boisterous celebrations; aptly, the word has no known origin. She writes that her favorite fruit is the jackfruit, which […]

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Naked truths: ‘Tits Up,’ by Sarah Thornton

by Mieke Marple

Tits are back, baby. “Breasts,” a show of tits throughout the ages, just opened at the ACP Palazzo Franchetti in Venice for the Biennale. This comes on the heels of “Darker, Lighter, Puffy, Flat” at the Kunsthalle Wein, which examined the significance of breasts, from the maternal to the sexual to the biological. Last year, there was also “Boobs in Art” at Berlin’s DITTRICH & SCHLECHTRIEM, a comprehensive exhibition of 100 artists grappling with mammary glands that included a painting by Paula Modersohn-Becker from 1906, considered the first self-depicted nude by a woman. Sarah Thornton’s new book, Tits Up: What […]

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The Blue Angels / The Spirituals App

by David Roderick

The Blue Angels Have you heard the sound of them during Fleet Week the threat of our brute aerial power flaying whole afternoons in formation and turgid fumes over the Bay my friend at the Chron says they fly 700 mph and 18 inches apart skimming the filigree of a sound barrier until they bang

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The Art of Stories: A Conversation with Steve Almond

by Christine Sneed

Steve Almond is one of the few writers whose books I await with genuine impatience, and his newest was no exception. I read Truth Is the Arrow, Mercy Is the Bow: A DIY Manual for the Construction of Stories (Zando; $18) in a few fervid sittings, underlining passage after passage, Almond’s characteristic wisdom and wry sense of humor wholly present in each of the book’s four sections. Truth Is the Arrow is an addictive blend of fiction-writing craft essays, writing prompts, and poignant reflections on the challenges and felicities of making a life as a writer. Almond is also the […]

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Parable of the Perfect Translator

by Kit Schluter

It happened with great simplicity, without affectation. — Virgilio Piñera One early May afternoon at a café on Rue Scribe, a strange man presented himself to the university students as France’s greatest translator. Yet when these students looked into the name this man had given, they could find no trace of either him or his

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‘Limitarianism,’ by Ingrid Robeyns

by Jonah Raskin

Not that long ago, it would have been dangerous to denounce “extreme wealth,” as the Dutch scholar Ingrid Robeyns calls it in her new book, Limitarianism: The Case Against Extreme Wealth (Astra House; $28). But then along came the financial crisis of 2008, and the global Occupy movement that surfaced in 2011 and popularized the notion that one percent of the U.S. population controls most of the wealth—and that the 99 percent have been excluded from the American Dream. Soon, dozens of books, flooded the marketplace. Joseph Stiglitz’s The Price of Inequality (2012), T.M. Scanlon’s Why Does Inequality Matter? (2008), […]

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‘Nefando,’ by Mónica Ojeda

by Lillian Burnes Heath

Mónica Ojeda’s latest novel speaks in many different tongues, including Catalan slang and plain nonsense, and both its triumphs and challenges come from that. Translated from the Spanish by Sarah Booker, Nefando (Coffee House Press; $17.95) details the creation of a darkly twisted video game, the titular Nefando, by three siblings with satellite help from their trio of roommates in Barcelona: Kiki is the writer, her friend Iván is a master’s student with violent gender dysmorphia, and El Cuco Martinez, the most popular and chatty roomie, is a video game designer moonlighting as Robin Hood. Then there are the Teráns—Irene, […]

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The Köln Concert

by D.S. Waldman

We showed up with a U-Haul and a Prius and could not see the ocean. They lay it on thick there, a friend had said of Pacifica, two, three weeks at a time. We pulled off at the bluffs before taking our things to the cottage on Winona. Five hours it took for the cat

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‘Whitman’s Wild Children’

by Neeli Cherkovski

Neeli Cherkovski was that rare figure who both chronicled a vibrant literary culture and contributed to its flourishment. Cherkovski, who died on March 19 at age 78, was a Zelig of sorts, long at the center of the literary scenes of San Francisco and Los Angeles; he wrote biographies of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Charles Bukowski, co-edited a Los Angeles literary magazine (Laugh Literary and Man the Humping Guns), founded the San Francisco Poetry Festival, and wrote poetry collections (Animal, Elegy for Bob Kaufman and Leaning Against Time). A native of Southern California, Cherkovski had made San Francisco his home for […]

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‘The Hammer,’ by Hamilton Nolan

by Jonah Raskin

According to a spate of recent articles in The New York Times and elsewhere, American workers and their trade unions are “flexing their muscles.” Indeed, a survey conducted by Margaret Poydock and Jennifer Sherer that was published by the Economic Policy Institute says “major strike activity” in the U.S. increased by 280 percent in 2023. Headlines amplify the data. In September 2023, more than 12,000 workers went on strike at General Motors and Ford. In October 2023, more than 75,000 Kaiser Permanente health care workers staged the largest recorded health care strike in U.S. history. A month later, roughly 5,000 […]

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The Seamus

by Tara Ison

I always sensed beast in the house. From the time I could sense anything, I knew I could reach for and grip onto a shaggy coat, pull myself up to lean against a beastly wall of muscle. I knew the scent of tartar breath, the scalloped air of a swinging tail, the sponge of a

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