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Prepared

She Stopped a School Shooting

Mike Haberman

A man walked into a Georgia school with an AK-47 and a duffel bag full of ammunition. Antoinette Tuff, who tried to kill herself nine months earlier, talked him out of it.

Nine months before a man walked into Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur, Georgia, wielding an AK-47 and a duffel bag full of ammunition and yelling “We are all going to die today,” Antoinette Tuff tried to kill herself.  But on August 20, 2013, she convinced the would-be school shooter that he had a reason to live.“It’s going to be all right, sweetie. I want you to know I love you, okay? I’m proud of you. That’s a good thing that you’re giving up and don’t worry about it.

Creative Writing

Chang-rae Lee: How I Write

David Levenson/Getty

The Korean-American writer, whose new dystopian novel is ‘On Such a Full Sea,’ speaks about his first failed book, his favorite assignment for his students, and golf.

I understand you went to Exeter Academy. Tell me about your time there.Vis-a-vis writing, Exeter was the place I got interested in writing. Not sure that would’ve happened at my local public high school. Exeter alum writers were really promoted and we always had a troop of them coming through: Gore Vidal, George Plimpton, John Irving. We had a James Agee year, where we all read Agee’s work. It’s a place where writing and writers were revered.

Whose Your Daddy?

The Science Behind Virgin Births

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Turns out that nun who gave birth to a child named after the Pope is in good company in the long history of virgin births. Professor Candida Moss on all the strange excuses given when there’s no father.

Last week a nun in Italy gave birth to a baby boy after being rushed to hospital with stomach pains. She named the boy Francesco, or Francis, and nuns at her convent are said to be “very surprised” by the news. No one more so than the woman herself who remarked—in what could be a direct quote from the hit Discovery Channel TV show—“I didn’t know I was pregnant.” Still, while few details are available, she presumably knows how she got that way.

Freedom and Strife

This Week’s Hot Reads

The Daily Beast

This week, a memoir of liberation, a biography of Ariel Sharon, and a comprehensive compendium from a master poet.

Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood By Leah Vincent Whatever the ideology, few display the zeal of the convert. For writer and activist Leah Vincent, born the daughter of a Rabbi in an ultra-orthodox community in Pittsburgh, the ideology in which she found herself an eager neophyte was one that most of us in this country take for granted: secular self-determination. In Cut Me Loose, she describes her creeping disillusionment with the paternalistic and self-segregating world of the Yeshivish, in which a girl was expected to “move from her father’s home to her husband’s” at a young age, and where she was exposed to such sentiment as “blacks aren’t like other non-Jews.

Pink City Rock

Namaste, Jaipur!

Himanshu Vyas/Hindustan Times, via Getty

With over 200,000 people attending this year, India’s Jaipur Literature Festival can claim to be one of the biggest in the world—and certainly the most fun. Vijai Maheshwari reports on the big speakers, controversies, and hits from this year.

Asia’s largest literary festival kicked off in Jaipur, India, last Friday, with over 200,000 people thronging the various stages of the 17th century Rajput-built Diggi Palace in the center of the “pink” city. Free from the controversy that dogged 2012’s festival, when Salman Rushdie canceled his trip because of death threats by Muslim fundamentalists, this year’s festival has a more relaxed, bohemian vibe. Speakers at the prestigious festival include Jonathan Franzen, Gloria Steinem, Novel-prize winner Amartya Sen, Jhumpa Lahiri, Reza Aslan, Jim Crace, and memoirist Ved Mehta.

One for the Road

The Haunted Stage

Helen Warner

In a series of award-winning plays Conor McPherson has shocked theatergoers. Here he talks about his new play ‘The Night Alive,’ on drink, being a romantic, and the meaning of grace.

“It’s a question of always trying to wrong foot the audience,” the award-winning Irish playwright Conor McPherson told me on the phone from Dublin.  “Then you suddenly up the stakes exponentially, and they’re like, ‘Oh shit, I didn’t see this coming.’”That’s pretty much what McPherson did to me in the winter of 2008, shortly after I sat down in the third row at the Booth theatre to see The Seafarer, the story of a boozy Dublin Christmas Eve poker game in which a man’s soul is at stake.

Loud and Clear

You Need to Read This Book

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After years of combat and thousands of pages of confusion, finally there is a book that explains the inner workings—and failings—of the American disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan. Former State Department official John Kael Weston salutes Robert Gates’ “Duty.”

I met former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates twice, both times in the remotest reaches of Afghanistan. If anyone is entitled, indeed obligated, to pen a blunt book about America’s two longest wars, it is this deliberative ultra-insider and Washington wise man. Gates writes with an unfiltered voice and in very detailed fashion—600 pages of ungilded prose—to the benefit of readers, the nation, and, undoubtedly, curious troops.So what lies behind the curtain of official Washington at the highest levels of government in a time of nonstop war? Well, it ain’t pretty.

Rich Text

MLK’s Forgotten Masterpiece

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When Martin Luther King accepted his Nobel Prize, he delivered a speech that has been unfairly ignored because his delivery was so muted. Read 50 years later, it is electrifying.

Martin Luther King’s gifts were manifest. He was an inspired leader, a galvanizing orator, and a brilliant polemicist and prose writer. But more than anything, he knew how to rise to an occasion.On December 10, 1964, when he received the Nobel Peace Prize, he knew the world was watching. He knew that he was the public face of the American civil rights movement, and that everything he said would be weighed and judged, sometimes harshly. Put in that position, almost any of us would tremble.

Reading Habits

E-Books Thrive and So Does Print

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A new Pew study finds that readers are embracing e-books on a variety of devices but that print is holding its own.

Traditionally (strange word to use in connection with technological change but bear with me), devices that bring us entertainment displace one another. VHS kicks Beta off the island, CDs make cassette tapes obsolete, and so it goes. But according to a Pew Research Center poll released this week, the same does not hold true for the devices Americans use to read.  While the number of people reading e-books continues to climb (17 percent in 2011, 23 percent in 2012, and 28 percent in 2014), the figure for people who read books remained fairly constant for the same period.

Hatchet Job of the Year!

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“No rhythm, no beauty, no humor.” The eight most scathing book reviews of the year.

The eight scathing book reviews that make up this year’s Hatchet Job of the Year Award shortlist have been announcedLast year was, by most people’s standards, a good year for book lovers. At 28, Eleanor Catton became the youngest ever winner of the Booker Prize with her swirling, mesmerizing epic The Luminaries. At a daunting 832 pages, it was also the longest novel ever to have won the prize. Elsewhere, there were new novels from John le Carré and Donna Tartt, her first in over a decade.

Distorted

Myth of Reality in ‘Lone Survivor’

Gregory E. Peters/Universal Pictures

The film ‘Lone Survivor’ is meant to be a celebration of a heroic SEAL team in Afghanistan, but in making up parts of the story and avoiding hard truths the director Peter Berg has failed those men—and the viewer.

Spoiler Alert. Lone Survivor is a movie.Lone Survivor is a film with a serious identity crisis. It is a biopic and a memorial, both ultimately cheapened by concessions to the action genre and an inability to fully humanize its characters. It depicts Operation Red Wings where, for their part, a four man SEAL team is tasked with locating and surveilling an enemy militia leader from a mountain in Afghanistan. Mark Wahlberg plays real life Marcus Luttrell, who we know to be the only survivor, and we follow him and the doomed members of his team through their ordeal.

Longreads

The Week’s Best Reads

The Daily Beast

From the sentence that launched America’s endless global war to the amazing world of underground marijuana smuggling, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.

The Most Dangerous Sentence in U.S. History Gregory D. Johnsen, BuzzFeed Written in the frenzied days after 9/11, the Authorization for the Use of Military Force was intended to give President Bush the ability to retaliate against whoever orchestrated the attacks. More than 12 years later, this sentence remains the primary legal justification for nearly every covert operation around the world.In the Name of Love Mika Tokumitsu, Jacobin “Do what you love” is the mantra for today’s worker.

The Adolescent Psyche

No Strange Magic in the Attic

James Dittiger

Lifetime doesn't make the mistake of leaving the brother-sister incest out of its television adaptation of 'Flowers in the Attic.' What's missing here is context.

When V.C. Andrews's mega-selling 1979 young-adult novel Flowers in the Attic was adapted into a campy 1987 horror movie starring Kristy "The Original Buffy the Vampire Slayer" Swanson and Louise "Nurse Ratched" Fletcher, most of the book's big plot points made it up on screen—except for one.Included in the film was the blonde-haired, blue-eyed, alliteration-happy Dollanganger family: father Chris Sr., mother Corrine, and their four perfect "Dresden Doll" children (Chris Jr.

FOOD FIGHT

In Defense of the Paleo Diet

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Critics of America’s most popular new diet aren’t entirely wrong, but look closely at their three biggest criticisms and you see why you should still be experimenting with a paleo diet says Chris Kresser, author Your Personal Paleo Code

The Paleo diet has exploded in popularity over the past several years. It’s not unusual to see a Paleo book on the New York Times bestseller list, and by now you’ve either heard of it, know someone who is doing it, or perhaps are doing it yourself. But while the Paleo diet has rapidly gained a foothold in the public consciousness, it has also been criticized in the media. I outline below the three most common critiques and explain why they don’t invalidate the fundamental premise of the Paleo approach.

In the Garret

All About Paris

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Famous for her novels about Americans living and loving in Paris, Diane Johnson’s new book is about home: America. She talks to Noah Charney about her writing routine, the best advice she ever got, and life in Paris.

How did you first come to live in Paris?I went to Paris as a trailing wife, when my husband John was doing medical research with a French colleague there. At first, I resisted, hoping for England, because I was and am a great Anglophile, and also I couldn’t speak French.Which neighborhood in Paris is your personal favorite and why?We lived for a number of years in the Fifth Arrondissement, and I think that’s still my favorite, for its vestiges of Roman and medieval Paris, present student life, little theaters and bookshops, foodie markets and all.

Reading Lives

All About George (Eliot)

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As a teenager Rebecca Mead first encountered George Eliot’s Middlemarch and has returned to it at important moments in her life. In her new meditation cum memoir about the novel, she reveals deep truths about how and why we all read says Lucy Scholes.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 recently, the crime novelist Ruth Rendell voiced her fears that reading is a dying art: “Reading is no longer something that everybody does as a matter of course,” she said. “Reading is becoming a kind of specialist activity, and that strikes terror into the heart of people who love reading.” Her comments struck a chord with discerning critics and writers. In a piece written for the Guardian, the often-divisive novelist and critic Philip Hensher proposed a radical government-enforced yearly reading quota.

Death and Madness

This Week’s Hot Reads

This week: a grandson’s compelling dive into his grandfather’s life as a WWII combat psychiatrist an his most famous patient, and a journalist’s journey into a college classroom where death is the subject.

A Curious Madness: An American Combat Psychiatrist, A Japanese War Crimes Suspects, And an Unsolved Mystery from World War II Eric JaffeA Curious Madness is not your typical mystery. There is no body, there is no weapon, and unlike a drop of blood, the clues are as nebulous as the thoughts and intentions of men. “The main problem with writing about my grandfather was I didn’t know anything about him,” author Eric Jaffe writes of Daniel Jaffe, who was a combat psychiatrist in World War II.

Unauthorized

25 Extraordinary Ailes Revelations

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You can see why he didn’t want it published. From allegations of violence and sexual advances to his controversial time at Fox, all the juiciest bits of the Roger Ailes biography.

In The Loudest Voice in the Room, which goes on sale today, New York magazine writer Gabriel Sherman excavates the life and times of Republican strategist-turned-cable television mogul Roger Ailes, the “brilliant, bombastic,” and—according to Sherman—deeply paranoid paterfamilias of Fox News. Below, some of the spicier nuggets from the unauthorized biography, for which Ailes didn't grant an interview:*Ailes, 73, was diagnosed as a toddler in the working class industrial town of Warren, Ohio, with life-threatening hemophilia, which “caused blood to pool in his knees, hips, and ankles.

Sasquatch Sex

Monster Porn Is a Thing

via Amazon

Forget brawny cowboys and sadomasochistic millionaires. ’50 Shades’ opened the door for every horny monster, space alien, minotaur, leprechaun, and gargoyle imaginable. Can you say ‘cryptozoological erotica’?

“From within the tufts of matted hair, the creature released a huge pale cock that defied logic.”Defied. Logic. “He stroked his cock, while I continued to lave his balls, taking one and then the other in my mouth.”Balls. Laved.I entered the world of interspecies fuck fiction—populated by illogical and pale cocks, testicle laving, and bigfoot handjobs—with some reluctance. The quotes above are examples of the sparkling prose to be found in Cum For Bigfoot, one of the best-selling titles in this subgenre of erotica commonly known as “monster porn.

The Struggle To Find Trans Love

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For one trans woman, finding a date within San Francisco’s lesbian community turned out to be much harder than she anticipated.

DatingJune 2010.I’ve spent much of the last decade writing about trans woman exclusion and trans woman irrelevancy in queer women’s communities. You would think that by now, I would have little left to say about the subject, but this is not the case. In deciding what I would write about this time around, I wrestled with so many possible themes: for instance, discussing how my views on this issue have evolved over the years; critiquing the masculine-centrism of modern-day dyke communities; highlighting the need for heterogeneous queer spaces that are accepting of difference; explaining how trans male/masculine folks who claim a place in dyke spaces by emphasizing their lack of male genitals or their assigned-female-at-birth status royally screw over their trans sisters; or the misogyny inherent in the fact that the queer community loves it when trans female/feminine spectrum folks get all dragged up and lip sync along to some record, but when we speak in our own voices about issues that are important to us, nobody wants to take us seriously.

How I Write