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Saturday, March 30, 2019

Every Living Creature, by Sarah Schweitzer, Medium

When a massive Caribbean volcano erupts, the island’s residents flee, leaving their beloved animals behind. As pets and livestock are engulfed in ash and penned in by lava, waiting to perish, three brave souls risk death and evade the law to save every last one. A modern-day Noah’s Ark.

New Emperor, New Era: How A Single Word Defines Japan, by BBC

One rumoured possibility for the new name is "Ankyu" ("peaceful and permanent") - but the word is a closely guarded secret until its official unveiling. Senior officials have vowed to withdraw any choices leaked in media reports before the day itself.

The new name is expected to embody Japanese ideals and aspirations, while also being easy to read and write. It's a lot to ask of two small characters.

Meet The Curiosity-Seekers And Die-Hards At The Last True Blockbuster, by Tiffany Hsu, New York Times

The Bend store, three hours from Portland, was already attracting tourists last summer, when it became the last Blockbuster in America. As it prepares to become the last true Blockbuster in the world on Sunday — when the only other one, in Australia, closes — even more selfie-snapping pilgrims have arrived.

One of them, Steven Mercadante, drove his 2013 Kia Soul nearly 1,000 miles from Southern California through pelting rain to get to Bend.

The Stories In 'Guestbook' Linger Like Ghosts, by Lily Meyer, NPR

"Eqalussuaq" is Shapton at her finest, as is Guestbook as a whole. Without fail, it's unexpected, subtle, and moving. Shapton excels at evoking emotion through absence, which is, perhaps, a skill borrowed from more traditional ghost stories. Guestbook never sets out to frighten, though. Some of Shapton's ghosts might be malevolent — the haunted tennis player in "Billy Byron," for example, might have been better off without his supernatural coach — but there are no jump-scares here. Instead, her ghosts are longed for, invited, or quizzically welcomed. Her protagonists tend to share the attitude of the woman in "Alcatraz" who goes to visit the former prison, then discovers that a spirit has followed her home. When it brushes her legs, she feels instant sorrow, but she understands that it seeks only "the sympathy she felt for the men who had been [in Alcatraz], sympathy it desperately wanted." She burns sage to make the spirit leave, but she never retracts her sympathy. Guestbook is a profoundly sympathetic work, and one filled with yearning. That yearning, like a ghost, lingers long after the stories are done.