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“The Glass Castle” deals in the contradictions of human nature

REAL LIFE is full of conflicts and dualities. Life, as often imagined by Hollywood, is not, which makes “The Glass Castle” a tricky bit of source material. In her bestselling memoir from 2005, Jeannette Walls recalled her fraught relationship with her father, a whimsical narcissist who both delighted his family …

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Even with the ABBA format, penalty shootouts remain a lottery

ALTHOUGH social-media sites are usually ablaze with fury after a football cup final, it is rare that supporters on both sides direct their ire at the same target. That was what happened when Arsenal beat Chelsea on August 6th to win the FA Community Shield, the annual pre-season fixture between …

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A Basque writer contemplates America

Nevada nights Nevada Days. By Bernardo Atxaga. Translated by Margaret Jull Costa. MacLehose Press; 352 pages; £14.99. IN THE gambling city of Reno, where red, green and fuchsia neon signs shine like “boiled sweets”, the University of Nevada has a Centre for Basque Studies. Bizarre at first glance, this odd …

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A Japanese author writes about coping with autism

Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8. By Naoki Higashida. Random House; 206 pages; $27. Sceptre; 288 pages; £14.99. IN 1995 Temple Grandin, a well-known animal scientist who designs livestock-holding equipment in America, brought out a memoir about just how baffling it can be to live with autism; she has …

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Why English is such a great language for puns

Away With Words: An Irreverent Tour Through the World of Pun Competitions. By Joe Berkowitz. Harper Perennial; 273 pages; $15.99 and £8.99. LAST week’s issue of this paper contained the following headlines: “Rooms for improvement” (in a story about British housing); “Though Mooch is taken, Mooch abides” (on the firing …

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A museum of memory in Beirut gets off to a troubled start

Hidden beauty NEARLY three decades after the end of the civil war in Lebanon, the façade of the Barakat building in central Beirut is still pitted with bullet holes. Craters in its limestone walls have been patched with concrete and its elegant colonnade is held up by ugly metal struts. …

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How Charlotte Brontë came to write “Jane Eyre”

The Secret History of Jane Eyre: How Charlotte Brontë Wrote Her Masterpiece. By John Pfordresher. W.W. Norton; 254 pages; $26.95; £20. CRITICS relish a bit of detective work. Four hundred years after William Shakespeare died, people still offer new theories about the true identity of the “Dark Lady” and the …

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Henry David Thoreau, a new biography

Henry David Thoreau: A Life. By Laura Dassow Walls. University of Chicago Press; 613 pages; $35 and £26.50. ON AN April night in 1844, a distraught Henry David Thoreau walked through the blackened waste of a forest fire he had accidentally caused only hours before. The fire, near Concord, Massachusetts, …

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The EAGLE has landed

Audio and Video content on Economist.com requires a browser that can handle iFrames. WELCOME to the home page of EAGLE, the Economist Advantage in Golf Likelihood Estimator. EAGLE is a mathematical model of golf tournaments that measures every player’s chances of victory at every point in the event. When any …

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Starting a conversation about intimate partner violence in India

ANUJA, a young woman, invites us to step into her shoes and live her life for the next few minutes. We meet her boyfriend Manoj, a pleasant-looking young man; he has a good job, wears smart clothes and seems like ideal boyfriend material. But things take a nasty turn. When …