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James McElroy

James McElroy is a novelist and essayist based in New York.
Articles by James McElroy

Heroic Anxiety in the Age of Social Media

There is a strange feedback loop between our institutions and the internet: the internet spreads mental illness like a plague and our institutions codify the latest psychosis. In pop culture, this dynamic created critical barista theory, in which the language of high criticism is used to articulate pop culture preferences. Critical barista theory…

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Losing the Narrative: The Genre Fiction of the Professional Class

Something strange happened to the news over the past four years. The dominant stories all resembled the scripts of bad movies—sequels and reboots. The Kavanaugh hearings were a sequel to the Clarence Thomas hearings, and Russian collusion was rebooted as Ukrainian impeachment. Journalists are supposed to hunt for good scoops, but in January, as the…

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Literature as Flattery

In 1934, the Saturday Review of Literature published an ad on how to read James Joyce’s Ulysses. The ad is remarkable for its relationship to reading, democracy, and elitism. On the one hand, the ad dismisses critics who fret over the difficulty of the novel and presents it as a challenge that is rewarding to every…

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