Kent Haruf, ‘a great writer and a great man’, dies aged 71 [The Guardian]
"Pan Macmillan, Haruf’s UK publisher, said that the novelist died on Sunday 30 November, praising his “beautifully restrained, profoundly felt novels” which it said “reflected a man of integrity, honesty and deep thoughtfulness”."
"Longings and Desires", a Slate.com book review by Amanda Katz:
[Sarah] Waters, who was born in Wales in 1966, has carved out an unusual spot in fiction. Her six novels, beginning with Tipping the Velvet in 1998, could be called historical fiction, but that doesn’t begin to capture their appeal. It is closer to say that she is creating pitch-perfect popular fiction of an earlier time, but swapping out its original moral engine for a sensibility that is distinctly queer and contemporary, as if retrofitting a classic car.[more inside]
Her books offer something like an alternate reality—a literary one, if not a historical one. There may have been lesbian male impersonators working the London music halls in the 1890s, as in Tipping the Velvet, but there were certainly not mainstream novels devoted to their inner lives and sexual exploits. Waters gives such characters their say in books that imitate earlier crowd-pleasers in their structure, slang, and atmosphere, but that are powered by queer longing, defiant identity politics, and lusty, occasionally downright kinky sex. (An exception is her last novel, The Little Stranger.) The most masterful of these books so far is Fingersmith, a Wilkie Collins-esque tale full of genuinely shocking twists (thieves, double-crossing, asylums, mistaken identity, just go read it). The saddest is The Night Watch, a tale told in reverse of a group of entwined characters during and after World War II. But among many readers she is still most beloved for Tipping the Velvet, a deliriously paced coming-of-age story that is impossible to read in public without blushing.
In theory: the unread and the unreadable - "We measure our lives with unread books – and 'difficult' works can induce the most guilt. How should we view this challenge?"
Highlighting forgotten, neglected, abandoned, forsaken, unrecognized, unacknowledged, overshadowed, out-of-fashion, under-translated writers.
My 6,128 Favorite Books - "Joe Queenan on how a harmless juvenile pastime turned into a lifelong personality disorder."
simply read Finnegans Wake. Since it is said to make more sense when recited aloud, you could start with this recording of James Joyce performing a passage from the "Anna Livia Plurabelle" section - which has been described as "one of the most beautiful prose-poems in English". [more inside]
The main thing about impersonation, Tom thought, was to maintain the mood and temperament of the person one was impersonating, and to assume the facial expressions that went with them.
Read the latest Daniel Pinkwater novel before it's published. As he has done with his last three novels , children's author, NPR commentator and pet lover Daniel Pinkwater is serialising his latest novel, Bushman Lives. [more inside]
Before Robert Jordan passed away, he dictated the ending of his Wheel of Time" series. This was just another bump in the rocky saga of the series. [more inside]
Fans of George RR Martin's "The Song of Ice and Fire" series are eagerly awaiting "A Dance With Dragons", the next book. This anticipation has led to hostility from some fans as to Martin's work ethic and the manner in which he spends his personal time.
The library system in Polk County, Florida has installed vending machines so that patrons who aren't close to a library can still check books out.
Have you seen people at library book sales going over all the books with a barcode scanner? One of these folks reveals his methods and discusses his feelings about what he does.
"... many critics and editors, especially male ones, make a fetish of "ambition," by which they mean the contemporary equivalent of novels about men in boats ("Moby-Dick," "Huckleberry Finn") rather than women in houses ("House of Mirth"), and that as a result big novels by male writers get treated as major events while slender but equally accomplished books by women tend to make a smaller splash." [more inside]
The Iron Heel, published a century ago this year, is a novel by Jack London about socialist revolution in the United States. It is set mostly between 1912 and 1932, with a foreword and numerous footnotes written from the point of view of a historian who has just discovered the manuscript some 700 years later. Here is an excerpt (which is printed on the back cover of some editions) from chapter five:
"This, then, is our answer. We have no words to waste on you. When you reach out your vaunted strong hands for our palaces and purpled ease, we will show you what strength is. In roar of shell and shrapnel and in whine of machine-guns will our answer be couched. We will grind you revolutionists down under our heel, and we shall walk upon your faces. The world is ours, we are its lords, and ours it shall remain. As for the host of labor, it has been in the dirt since history began, and I read history aright. And in the dirt it shall remain so long as I and mine and those that come after us have the power. There is the word. It is the king of words--Power. Not God, not Mammon, but Power. Pour it over your tongue till it tingles with it. Power."
Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey is Chuck Palahniuk's eighth novel. It takes the form of an oral history of one Buster 'Rant' Casey, in which an assortment of friends, enemies, admirers, detractors and relations have their say on this (in Chuck Palahniuk's words) 'evil, gender-conflicted Forrest Gump character'. His work is controversial, but I imagine a few Palahniuk fans who read The Blue might have missed the fact that he has a new book out. [ Previously ]
After an abysmal, embarrasing attempt at collaborative fiction by Penguin Books, a new site takes a stab at the Wikinovel, this time, it appears, with a little better organization and planning. Though, still no users.
Olaf Stapledon was a man ahead of his time. His epic 'novel' Star Maker (1937) considered the emergence of genetic engineering, the outcome of the many worlds interpretation and delved deeper than any book before or since into the consequences of evolution on the cosmos. His fans have included the likes of Arthur C Clarke, Jorge Luis Borges and Virginia Woolf. Even his greatest detractor, C.S.Lewis, wrote an entire Cosmic Trilogy in response to his imaginings. Yet despite Stapledon's magnetic prose and extraordinary influence on speculative fiction his name remains largely forgotten by the world. Yet his words still resonate with insight: "Did not our life issue daily as more or less firm threads of active living, and mesh itself into the growing web, the intricate, ever-proliferating pattern of mankind?"
The 2004 Lyttle Lytton winners were announced. The premise is simple: write a terrible opening line (of 25 words or less) of a hypothetical novel. In case you're wondering the winners in 2003 and 2002 were discussed previously. [via kathrynyu]
If cyberspace were organized into a giant neural computer... [NYT, reg req] ...one could in theory "upload" a person's mental software into it: thoughts, feelings, memories, the works. - an interesting sci-fi premise by author john darnton complete with a contemporary 'mad scientist!'
Monday is the last day to declare your intention to write a 50,000-word novel during National Novel Writing Month (Nov. 1-30). "Dubious fiction writers from all nations are invited to participate," says organizer Chris Baty. So far, around 3,000 writers have pledged to bring 150 million new words into the world.