Arts

Arts and culture

I'll be honest; at first, I feared the whole series was a bit of a dodge.

Watching the first episode of Shots Fired — Fox's highly anticipated limited series about a federal investigation into a police shooting in a small North Carolina town — one thing became clear rather quickly.

The shooting, which draws two hotshot investigators from the Department of Justice, involves the town's only black police officer, who kills an unarmed, white 19-year-old.

How are a family mass-murder in 1983, a string of serial killings in 2014, and a present-day crack house connected? One answer in Dan Chaon's disturbing, amazing, masterful new novel, Ill Will by a prison psychiatrist to the novel's protagonist, Dustin Tillman: "When you've been abused in the way you were, you have a virus. And the virus will demand that you pass it on to someone else. You don't even have that much of a choice."

A few days ago, one of my students asked me what I was reading, so I told her about Jean Hanff Korelitz's new novel, called The Devil and Webster. My student's eyes got wider as I finished lightly summarizing the plot, and she said, with some concern about Korelitz: "I hope she's ready for all the angry tweets and emails."

Yeah, I think she probably is.

Critics who write about Zora Neale Hurston always seem to write about her contradictions — and no wonder. The extremes she embodied were manifest in her history, her lifestyle, her work and even her legacy. Born in 1891 — though she habitually subtracted years from her age — she grew up in tiny Eatonville, Fla., receiving no encouragement to develop intellectual pursuits. Yet she became a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance, publishing seven books and dozens of articles, short stories, essays and plays.

The German city of Trier has never been particularly fond of its most famous son, Karl Marx, who helped turn communism into an ideology that changed the course of history.

Conservative and Catholic, the picturesque city on the French border took an ambivalent view of the radical revolutionary, born into a Jewish family in 1818.

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