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I wanted to tell a story about a ghost for Christmas, but the only story I had to tell started with a Welsh candlesnuffer. This is an object, not a person; there was not a man from St Asaph lurking in a back room somewhere, emerging only to extinguish flames that had burned too long. This was also not a euphemism for something brazen, though I have racked my brain and come up empty vis-a-vis the question of just what it might be a euphemism for.

The Welsh candlesnuffer was a small and hollow object in the shape of an…


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September 2020 kicked off with political signs in the headlines. In this case, though, the headlines weren’t about billboards or signs punctuating suburban subdivisions. Instead, they focused on the Biden/Harris campaign developing virtual signs that could be placed near your virtual residence in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Go where the people are, evidently — though much like the 2004 Bush/Cheney campaign’s infamous online sign generator, this does leave plenty of room for would-be pranksters to engage in acts of politically-inspired mischief. …


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Image: ArsenalFan700/Creative Commons

Yesterday, Chris Armas’s time as head coach of the New York Red Bulls came to an end. It’s the first time the organization has fired a head coach in the middle of the season since the team’s disastrous 2009 campaign — making it the first time since moving to Red Bull Arena that such an event has taken place.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I’ve been thinking about how Armas’s time at the helm of the club has compared to the three other coaches who have guided the team since Red Bull Arena opened its doors. Initially, I…


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Sometimes, the most important character in a novel isn’t the one who appears on the greatest number of pages. Sometimes a reader can be most emotionally affected by a character who doesn’t appear on the page at all. Neither of these describes the vast majority of novels; most traditional narratives generally put their most compelling characters front and center. Creating a character whose presence is felt without necessarily making regular appearances is harder to pull off: it’s a kind of balancing act, an endeavor to make sure that a character’s reputation doesn’t outshine their actual appearance. …


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Describing Steve Erickson’s fiction is no easy task. He’s a writer who regularly wrestles with big ideas, but he’s equally at home getting under the skin of his characters, embracing their contradictions, their messiness, and their essential humanity. Among his greatest talents–and one that’s boldly on display in his latest novel, Shadowbahn–is his ability to explore uncomfortable moments in time, and to tap into what makes certain chapters in recent (and not-so-recent) history compelling, resonant, or discomfiting for so many of us.

All of which is to say that Shadowbahn opens with the World Trade Center re-appearing in a sparsely…


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A perspective on literary fiction that only takes work being done in one language into account is, by its very nature, going to be incomplete. The process of translation into English–that which does and does not get translated, from specific writers to specific languages– remains a frequently discussed subject in literary circles. Recently, fiction translated from Korean into English has received a fair share of attention. …


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by Tobias Carroll

We were listening to this Icelandic postpunk band when we pulled up at the haunted donut shop just off Route 35. It was Christmas Day at around 10:30 in the pm, and we were en route to Atlantic City because we had nowhere better to be. The rumor about this donut shop was that it was haunted some of the time, that the ghosts of former employees could be summoned back to work a shift or two if you made the right sacrifice. It was the sort of thing that a friend’s brother had heard about for…


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How does language speak truth to power? More specifically, how can language be used to rebel against power? The protagonists of Katherine Dunn’s three novels — 1969’s Attic, 1971’s Truck, and 1989’s Geek Love — are all positioned on the outskirts of society, sometimes by choice and sometimes not. (Dunn also wrote extensively about boxing: her 2009 book One Ring Circus collected her nonfiction about the sport, and her unfinished novel The Cut Man bears a title that alludes to the sport.) At the time of her death in 2016, Geek Love had been a cult classic for decades. In…


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File this under concerts I regret missing: a couple of weeks ago, Gordi played a show at Archestratus, a terrific cookbook store and cafe a few blocks from where I live. (Note: this was originally published in 2017.) Footage I’ve seen from it features Sophie Payten–the Australian musician for whom Gordi is her preferred name for performance–energetically playing a keyboard and singing to the gathered crowd. I’ve been listening to Reservoir, Gordi’s debut, a lot over the past few months, and seeing footage of a show at what could accurately be called an intimate venue is almost surprising. But then…

Tobias Carroll

Writer of things. Managing editor, Vol.1 Brooklyn. Author of the collection TRANSITORY and the novel REEL.

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