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Newsletters | The Atlantic
Newsletters | The Atlantic
The Books Briefing: When Poets Write Novels
After the success of Ocean Vuong’s poetry collection Night Sky With Exit Wounds, some dismissively suggested that the poet explore themes other than “war, violence, queerness, and immigration,” Kat Chow reported in a 2019 Atlantic profile. But Vuong wasn’t done considering those topics. So he disregarded his critics and wrote a novel. In On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Vuong continues to grapple with those questions, evoking his childhood with urgency, lyricism, and—more than anything—careful attention to emotional truth.A background in poetry can enrich the process of writing fiction, helping writers create descriptive and emotionally resonant works. In an interview with The Atlantic, the author Souvankham Thammavongsa said that she relied on the same “discipline and rigor and attention” when writing poetry and short stories, but still aimed to make her fiction distinct. The young-adult author Elizabeth Acevedo draws from her experience as a poet, English teacher, and aspiring rapper to write propulsive novels about young Latina characters in a variety of styles: The Poet X, a verse novel, follows a 15-year-old who finds solace in poetry; the protagonist of With the Fire on High, which is written in prose, finds herself through cooking. The poet and novelist Ben Lerner turns his focus on language itself (and the men who manipulate it) in The Topeka School.Chloe Aridjis is not a poet, but her novel Sea Monsters functions much like a poem, gaining its meaning not from plot but rather from vivid images that blend together and shift in meaning as the book progresses. ​Every Friday in the Books Briefing, we thread together Atlantic stories on books that share similar ideas. Know other book lovers who might like this guide? Forward them this email. What We’re Reading(Mengwen Cao)Going home with Ocean Vuong“In a way, Vuong works this same magic through his poetry, and now, his novel; he builds a world that draws from his own life and, in turn, makes the reader’s experience more real, more beautiful, and more our own.”
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The Atlantic Daily: This Isn’t 2016
Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.THE ATLANTIC1. This isn’t 2016. Democrats fear a repeat of last cycle’s polling mistakes. Our staff writer Derek Thompson offers five reasons why this election is different.2. Here’s what liberals don’t understand about pro-Trump Latinos. “For liberal pundits, activists, and pollsters to focus on new Democratic turnout among Latinos misses the persuasiveness of the Republican pitch to Latino voters—and the staying power of their support,” Christian Paz, an assistant editor on our politics team, writes.3. Many white men love Donald Trump’s coronavirus response.And more than 80 percent of Republicans approve. Why? The simplest explanation “is that Trump voters like Trump,” Olga Khazan reports.4. Meanwhile, the president’s “America First” doctrine left America alone. “In seeking to exhibit strength, Trump has made America weaker,” Tom McTague and Peter Nicholas argue in the second part of their series on the president’s first-term foreign policy. (Read part one.)5. Now meet Joe Biden’s progressive wingman. Jared Bernstein says the far left is getting the Democratic nominee all wrong, Saahil Desai reports.APPLEFour movies to watch between now and Tuesday Our critic David Sims selected a few: “As Election Day approaches, here are four new films worth watching that try to reckon with the world we’re living in—and the future that lies ahead.”1. Boys State (Apple TV+) This documentary about teenagers attending a weeklong political-campaign camp is thrilling, sweet, and a little terrifying. The film focuses on young civic-minded heroes worth rooting for, but they have to fight against other teens relying on cheap political gamesmanship. 2. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix) Aaron Sorkin’s new movie has his usual fizzy dialogue and stacked cast, but it explores a dark political moment, when left-wing protesters were unfairly put on trial by their government. Sorkin’s usual brand of stirring reverence for America’s institutions is blunted here, but that’s a good thing. 3. David Byrne’s American Utopia (HBO) Spike Lee’s magnificent filmed version of the musician’s hit Broadway show mixes song, dance, and thoughtful lectures on America’s interconnectedness. The film has Talking Heads classics aplenty, but also an optimistic, vibrant celebration of empathy and togetherness in Byrne’s charming interludes. 4. World of Tomorrow 3: The Absent Destinations of David Prime (rent on Vimeo) Don Hertzfeldt’s stunning sci-fi series of animated shorts has gotten only more ambitious and complex with every sequel, and the latest entry is a 34-minute epic involving time travel, covert assassinations, and futuristic malware. Check out all three World of Tomorrow movies if you haven’t already, but each entry is a wonder in its own right. LUKE SHARRETT / BLOOMBERG / GETTYOne question, answered: Why do we still have an Electoral College?Lora Strum, an assistant editor, explains: The short answer: The Electoral College is in the Constitution, and it’s very hard to amend the Constitution. But, after the college delivered the presidency to two popular-vote losers in quick succession (George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016), the question of whether it should be replaced has resurfaced. But it’s unclear whether the system can change. If an amendment isn’t possible, one proposal—the National Popular Vote interstate-compact plan—could push the country closer to a popular election without altering the Constitution. What to read if you’re looking for practical election advice: If you can grocery shop in person, you can vote in person A citizen’s guide to defending democracy How to not go crazy the week before an election De-stress with an election-anxiety playlist Did someone forward you this newsletter? Sign up here. Need help? Contact Customer Care
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The Atlantic Daily: The Coronavirus Election
Voters are about to decide how bad this pandemic will get.
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