224 posts tagged with Literature and Fiction.
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M I N D W E B S

Mind Webs: semi-dramatized readings of classic science fiction stories by Le Guin, Ballard, Wolfe, Clarke, Dick, Bester, Bradbury, Sheckley, Lafferty, Leiber, Merril, Brunner, Russ, Davidson, Matheson, Vonnegut, deFord, Asimov, Counselman, Spinrad, Bloch, Niven, Clingerman, Harrison, Sturgeon, Aldiss, Knight, Saberhagen, Saxton, Pohl, Silverburg, Cheever, Zelazny, Farmer, Simak, Dybek, Dahl, Priest, and many others. Originally broadcast between the late 70s and early 90s by WHA (AM) of Madison, Wisconsin. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on May 20, 2016 - 9 comments

Abridged Too Far

The World's Greatest Books series (published 1910) was an attempt "to effect a compendium of the world's best literature in a form that shall be at once accessible to every one and still faithful to its originals; or, in other words, it has been sought to allow the original author to tell his own story over again in his own language, but in the shortest possible space." In other other words, this is where you'll find such ludicrous feats of deletion as a David Copperfield running 4,645 words (cooked down from 382,964) or a Clarissa condensed to 0.4% of its original mass. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on May 18, 2016 - 30 comments

“Everybody wants to own the end of the world.”

Back to the Future by Tony Tulathimutte [The New Republic] For 45 years, Don DeLillo has been our high priest of the American apocalypse, having tackled just about every man-made disaster: nukes in End Zone, nukes and garbage in Underworld, toxic pollution in White Noise, financial busts in Cosmopolis, terrorism in Falling Man, terrorism and the death of the novel in Mao II, war in Point Omega. His latest novel, Zero K, clears out every end-times scenario left in the bag: climate change, droughts, pandemics, volcanoes, biological warfare, even meteor strikes and solar flares. But these only menace in the background as future probabilities, and the novel’s focus is not human extinction but its inverse: immortality through cryonics. [more inside]
posted by Fizz on May 3, 2016 - 6 comments

“But life is a battle: may we all be enabled to fight it well!”

On the bicentenary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth, writers and artists reflect on her greatest creation. [The Guardian] [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Apr 18, 2016 - 9 comments

“You cannot have both . . . Joke and Art,”

Terry Southern, The Art of Screenwriting No. 3 Interviewed by Maggie Paley [The Paris Review] [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Mar 29, 2016 - 9 comments

“Oh, what a big gun you have.”

NRA [National Rifle Association] Rewrites Fairytales to Include Firearms. by David Barnett [The Guardian] The US pro-gun lobby is entertaining its younger members with its own take on classic fairytales, but they have a unique twist: firearms. The National Rifle Association’s nrafamily.com website is featuring the pro-firearms stories: Little Red Riding Hood (Has a Gun) & Hansel and Gretel (Have Guns) by Amelia Hamilton. [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Mar 25, 2016 - 89 comments

“Would he have a Twitter account bragging about his accomplishments?”

Where Patrick Bateman Would Be Today by Bret Easton Ellis [Town & Country] Twenty-five years after American Psycho was published as a Bloody Lampoon of the Go-Go '80s, the novel has been turned into a musical. The author considers his protagonist's enduring legacy in an age of even crazier money. ​ [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Mar 11, 2016 - 30 comments

Restless and hungry: good books to tackle before you turn 30

30 Books You Need To Read Before You Turn 30 (Huffpost Arts & Culture, Katherine Brooks) / 33 books everyone should read before turning 30 (Business Insider, Richard Feloni and Drake Baer) / 30 works of Canadian fiction to read before you're 30 (CBC) / 30 Books by Women to Read Before You Turn 30 (Bustle, Gina Vaynshteyn) / 30 Books Every Man Should Read By 30 (slideshow or thumbnails, Esquire, Sam Parker and Claudia Canavan)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Mar 10, 2016 - 49 comments

Can a Historical Novel Also Be Serious Literature?

Children of the Century: For writers of historical fiction, fact fades and feeling persists. by Alexander Chee [New Republic] [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Feb 21, 2016 - 12 comments

"The two women were alone in the London flat."

The Golden Notebook Project: the complete text of Doris Lessing's novel, with copious annotations and responses from seven women readers.
posted by Iridic on Feb 15, 2016 - 7 comments

Down these mean streets a man must go

Full cast radio adaptations of The Big Sleep, The Lady in the Lake, Farewell My Lovely, The Long Goodbye, The High Window, and three more Raymond Chandler mysteries. Starring Toby Stephens as Philip Marlowe.
posted by Iridic on Feb 5, 2016 - 32 comments

“I became weirdly obsessed with this novel years ago...”

‘2666,’ a Most Difficult Novel, Takes the Stage [The New York Times]
2666,” the Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño’s darkly enigmatic, wildly digressive, sometimes densely philosophical and above all extremely long final novel, has awed, mesmerized, baffled and exasperated readers around the world since its posthumous publication in 2004. “It would take 45 minutes just to explain what the novel is about,” Mr. Falls, the longtime artistic director of the Goodman Theater here, said on a recent afternoon. But that hasn’t stopped him from turning it into a five-hour stage adaptation that begins performances on Saturday, Feb. 6, the culmination of what he describes as a nearly decade-long effort to wrestle Mr. Bolaño’s baggy monster to the theatrical ground.
Previously.
posted by Fizz on Jan 27, 2016 - 33 comments

The archetype is probably 'Lucky Jim' by Kingsley Amis...

"From a comic standpoint, anyone who’s every been to a cocktail party with university colleagues knows that even at the best of times it’s an ongoing comedy of manners, a ballet of awkwardness. There exist in university settings the following: Competition, ego, eccentric personalities. Sartorial affectation (berets, tweed blazers, brightly colored silk scarves, Trotsky-style beards, all manner of glasses). Bureaucracy and Machiavellian maneuvering. Snubs and indignities and inappropriate flirtations.

"All, as they say, ripe for satire."
[more inside] posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Jan 12, 2016 - 35 comments

215 Of The Best Longreads Of 2015

215 Of The Best Longreads Of 2015 [more inside]
posted by triggerfinger on Jan 1, 2016 - 19 comments

Themed Guides to Translated Literature in 2015

Chad W. Post at Three Percent recently linked to World Literature Today's 75 Notable Translations of 2015 and went on a list-making tear to provide more structure and commentary: 7 books by women, 6 water-cooler fiction books, 6 university press books, 3 'funny' books, 4 books from underrepresented countries, and the best poetry I should read. The commentary often leads to further matters of interest, e.g. the Women in Translation Tumblr or Marianne Fritz and the translation challenges (scroll down) in her work.
posted by Wobbuffet on Dec 31, 2015 - 7 comments

In my dreams, I was inventing literature

Gabriel García Márquez began writing Cien Años de Soledad—One Hundred Years of Solitude—a half-century ago, finishing in late 1966. The novel came off the press in Buenos Aires on May 30, 1967, two days before Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released, and the response among Spanish-language readers was akin to Beatlemania: crowds, cameras, exclamation points, a sense of a new era beginning. In 1970 the book appeared in English, followed by a paperback edition with a burning sun on its cover, which became a totem of the decade. By the time García Márquez was awarded the Nobel Prize, in 1982, the novel was considered the Don Quixote of the Global South, proof of Latin-American literary prowess. [...] How is it that this novel could be sexy, entertaining, experimental, politically radical, and wildly popular all at once? Its success was no sure thing, and the story of how it came about is a crucial and little-known chapter in the literary history of the last half-century.
The Secret History of One Hundred Years of Solitude
posted by shakespeherian on Dec 13, 2015 - 12 comments

“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”

Four-day marathon public reading of War and Peace begins in Russia. [The Guardian]
A marathon four-day Russian public reading of Leo Tolstoy’s vast classic novel War and Peace kicked off on Tuesday morning, with more than 1,300 people in more than 30 cities preparing to make their contributions to the record-breaking project. Coordinated by Tolstoy’s great-great-granddaughter Fekla Tolstaya, and featuring a number of cultural luminaries including the Polish film director Andrzej Wajda, the readings are being streamed by Russian state television channel Kultura. One volume of Tolstoy’s fictionalised history of Russia during the Napoleonic campaign will be read each day.
posted by Fizz on Dec 8, 2015 - 17 comments

“...things get broken, and sometimes they get repaired,”

Debate erupts as Hanya Yanagihara's editor takes on critic over bad review of A Little Life. [The Guardian] The editor of Hanya Yanagihara’s bestselling novel A Little Life has taken to the pages of the New York Review of Books to defend his author from a review that claimed the novel “duped” its readers “into confusing anguish and ecstasy, pleasure and pain”. [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Dec 4, 2015 - 30 comments

“Everyone knows what a New Yorker story will look like.”

Marlon James, winner of this year’s Man Booker prize, believes that writers of color are “pandering to the white woman.” [The Guardian]
The 2015 Man Booker prize winner Marlon James has slammed the publishing world, saying authors of colour too often “pander to white women” to sell books, and that he could have been published more often if he had written “middle-style prose and private ennui”.
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Dec 1, 2015 - 68 comments

“If something is going to happen to me, I want to be there.”

In honor of Albert Camus' birthday, Flavorwire has collected 30 quotes from absurdist fiction.
posted by holmesian on Nov 7, 2015 - 13 comments

“THE WORLD IS WHAT IT IS, WHICH IS TO SAY, NOTHING MUCH.”

Camus' Web. by Jacob Eugene Horn [McSweeney's Internet Tendency]
Wilbur the pig was unhappy. In the two short months that he had been alive, Wilbur was certain he experienced the peaks and valleys of happiness and despair. When he was but a runt, he was free to prance about, but now that he was under the care of Farmer Zuckerman he was confined to a simple pig pen.
posted by Fizz on Oct 16, 2015 - 4 comments

“I do not consider literary forms to exist in a hierarchy,”

History v Historical Fiction by Jane Smiley [The Guardian] Historical fiction is not a secondary form – I was condescended to by a conservative historian who cannot see that he too constructs stories.
“The condescender was Niall Ferguson, a conservative historian about 15 years younger than me, who wanted to be sure that I understood that the historical novel is all made up, but that historical non-fiction, written by historians is truth. He referred to his research. I referred to my research. He wasn’t convinced. I suggested that the demands of history and fiction are slightly different – that since a novel is a story, it must be complete, and since a history must be accepted by the reader as accurate, it must be incomplete.”
posted by Fizz on Oct 15, 2015 - 43 comments

“People always leave traces. No person is without a shadow.”

Henning Mankell, Dean of Scandinavian Noir Writers, Dies at 67 [The New York Times]
Henning Mankell, the Swedish novelist and playwright best known for police procedurals that were translated into a score of languages and sold by the millions throughout the world, died Monday morning in Goteborg, Sweden. He was 67. Mr. Mankell was considered the dean of the so-called Scandinavian noir writers who gained global prominence for novels that blended edge-of-your-seat suspense with flawed, compelling protagonists and strong social themes. The genre includes Arnaldur Indridason of Iceland, Jo Nesbo of Norway and Stieg Larsson of Sweden, among others.
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Oct 5, 2015 - 34 comments

Evil! -- one seemed to see it everywhere

This is the way the world ends: not with a bang but a bronchial spasm. That is, at least, according to William Delisle Hay’s 1880 novella The Doom of the Great City. It imagines the entire population of London choked to death under a soot-filled fog. The story is told by the event’s lone survivor sixty years later as he recalls “the greatest calamity that perhaps this earth has ever witnessed” at what was, for Hay’s first readers, the distant future date of 1942. -- Brett Beasley in the Public Domain review on one of the first modern urban apocalypse stories.
posted by The Whelk on Oct 2, 2015 - 8 comments

Beware the novelist . . . intimate and indiscreet

Morrissey’s debut novel List of the Lost is published today. The author has explained that “The theme is demonology … the left-handed path of black magic. It is about a sports relay team in 1970s America who accidentally kill a wretch who, in esoteric language, might be known as a Fetch … a discarnate entity in physical form.” The initial reviews have not been kind: “an unpolished turd of a book” reckons Michael Hann at The Guardian; “a bizarre misogynistic ramble” opines Nico Hines of The Daily Beast. [more inside]
posted by misteraitch on Sep 24, 2015 - 101 comments

Winners will be announced in New York City on November 18.

2015 National Book Award Longlists Released [The Millions] [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Sep 17, 2015 - 16 comments

Good ol’ Gregor Brown

Franz Kafka meets Charlie Brown. Revisiting R. Sikoryak’s "Good ol’ Gregor Brown." The 100th Anniversary of The Metamorphosis, previously.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide on Sep 14, 2015 - 7 comments

Literature and addiction

"Here are some books that will not only make you want to quit doing the thing that is killing you, but also offer an interesting narrative structure for writers because they flout the conventional hero journey template. Instead of a reluctant hero emerging from an ordinary world to delve into the tricky landscape of magic and tests, these heroes begin in chaos and emerge from the grungy ashes of last call and plunge into sober, or at least peaceful, life earned by one’s ability to overcome hurdles associated with addiction." (Antonia Crane at Electric Literature) [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Aug 31, 2015 - 15 comments

Frankenstein’s Mother

"Since I was a little girl I’ve been afraid of monsters. I’d put garlic on my window ledge to ward off vampires and sage in the corners to protect me from zombies. Even as a young adult I lay on my ratty futon surrounded by library books terrified someone or something would break into my apartment. After my daughter was born, my fear escalated. I’d check the front door several times a day to make sure the deadbolt was secure and the chain latched. At night I lay in the dark, my mind sending out waves of panic."
posted by ellieBOA on Aug 24, 2015 - 7 comments

The Best Books of 2015 (so far)

The Best Books of 2015 (So Far) By Christian Lorentzen at Vulture. "These ten stand out as having made an especially remarkable impression on the past half-year." [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Jul 23, 2015 - 13 comments

From uneasy dreams

100 thoughts on Kafka's "Metamorphosis" to mark the 100th anniversary of its publication. (via) [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jul 20, 2015 - 4 comments

Saga of the Sagas

This years proposed Worldcon rule changes included one introducing a new Hugo Award, for Best Saga:

A work of science fiction or fantasy appearing in multiple volumes and consisting of at least 400,000 words of which the latest part was published in the previous calendar year.

Initially the new award was coupled with the removal of an old one: Best Novellete. This raised some objections and that part of the proposal was removed. What would the winners of Best Saga Award look like? Brandon Kempner tries modeling it based on The Locus Awards and Goodreads.
posted by Artw on Jun 24, 2015 - 93 comments

Summer Reading List

22 Books by Black Authors to Add to Your Beach Bag this Summer In response to recently published summer reading lists from The New York Times and NPR that featured mostly White authors, Blavity shares a list of 22 summer reads from Black authors. [more inside]
posted by aka burlap on Jun 19, 2015 - 16 comments

The School of English: a story by Hilary Mantel

'Beneath those houses,' the butler said, 'you should see what goes on. No one suspects the half of it. The whole earth is dug out. Spaciousness beneath. The panic room is seven times the size of this one. The whole of London can fall down around them and yet their freezer is fully stocked. All showers are multi-jet steam cabinets, plus the kitchen has coffee machine built in, ice machine, temperature-controlled cabinet for wine storage, sous vide machine with vacuum sealer, and an air filtration system that is suitable for allergy sufferers.' [TW: rape]
posted by smcg on May 9, 2015 - 9 comments

"The knives of jealousy are honed on details."

Ruth Rendell, crime writer, dies aged 85. [The Guardian]
Ruth Rendell, one of Britain’s best-loved authors, who delighted fans for decades with her dark, intricately plotted crime novels, has died at the age of 85, her publisher has announced.
[more inside] posted by Fizz on May 4, 2015 - 24 comments

No, these oysters, they were purely oysters as a concept

A trio of Haruki Murakami's Advertorial Short Stories: In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Onward spent massive sums on advertising J. Press in the print media. The classic ad format, often seen on the back cover of lifestyle magazine Popeye, showed a Japanese or American man telling a colorful story about their favorite trad clothing item. In 1985, as Japanese pop culture went in more avant-garde directions, Onward came up with a new idea — asking up-and-coming novelist Murakami Haruki to write a very short story inside each month’s advertisement for magazines Popeye, Box, and Men’s Club. [more inside]
posted by byanyothername on Apr 22, 2015 - 2 comments

Library of Congress Launches Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature

The Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature at the Library of Congress dates back to 1943, when Allen Tate was Consultant in Poetry. It contains nearly two thousand recordings—of poets and prose writers participating in literary events at the Library’s Capitol Hill campus as well as sessions at the Library’s Recording Laboratory. Highlights from the collection include: Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood, Ray Bradbury, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Mario Vargas Llosa, Rita Dove, Elizabeth Bishop, Gwendolyn Brooks, W.S. Merwin, Sandra Cisneros, Amy Clampitt, Robert Pinsky , and Miłosz, Czesław, among many others. [more inside]
posted by Toekneesan on Apr 16, 2015 - 7 comments

"She often condescends to drive by in her little phaeton and ponies."

A handy single-page explanation of horse-drawn carriage varieties, with pithy descriptions and occasional photographs of the barouche, the brougham, the cabriolet, the calash, the char-a-banc, the char-de-cote, the curricle, the dog-cart, the gig, the governess cart, the jaunting car, the landau, the Ralli car, the sociable, the sulky, the waggonette, and others. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Mar 23, 2015 - 34 comments

The Hunter of Doves

Are-you-in-trouble?—Do-you-need-advice?—Write-to-Miss-Lonelyhearts-and-she-will-help-you
Miss Lonelyhearts, The Day of the Locust, A Cool Million, and The Dream Life of Balso Snell, all by Nathanael West [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Mar 20, 2015 - 11 comments

The humble quest to read all things lesbian

The Lesbrary - "The humble quest to read everything lesbian: a lesbian book blog." Also see sidebar for links to other lesbian book blogs, websites, and online resources. [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Mar 3, 2015 - 27 comments

"Oh, how I mourn her passing"

Traces of Mavis. David MacFarlane writes about the life and work of Mavis Gallant for Canadian magazine The Walrus.
...an aspiring novelist once pressed Gallant for advice, which she stubbornly refused to give. She could have said something—anything, almost—to satisfy the would-be writer. But she wasn’t the kind of person who did that. ... How to write? This was not, as far as Gallant was concerned, an uncomplicated question. It was also a question that, were it to be answered meaningfully, would require more soul-searching, more thought, more self-analysis than she would want to undertake in front of a stranger. It’s easy to imagine how the question could come across as rude or impossible to answer—or both. Besides, she firmly believed that writing could not be taught. But the young author persisted. “All right,” Gallant finally said. “Here’s some advice: never drink cheap wine.”
posted by jokeefe on Feb 18, 2015 - 5 comments

Go obscure, out-of-print, feminist, progressive, female authors!!! Woot!

Drinking My Way Through the Literary 1930's : "The backbone of this blog is the amazing and unfortunately out-of-print book, So Red the Nose. To this 1935, somewhat tongue-in-cheek recipe book, thirty bestselling contemporary authors submitted original cocktails, based around their own original works ... My mission, then, is to recreate 29 of these cocktails ... and combine them with their namesakes, ... discovering which books are classics tragically forgotten and which are better left to collect dust in library basements." [via mefi projects] [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Feb 14, 2015 - 11 comments

The first science fiction anthology to focus on the immigrant experience

The first science fiction anthology to focus on the immigrant experience [via mefi projects]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Feb 12, 2015 - 8 comments

The making of "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek"

When Annie Dillard wrote Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, she didn't think anyone would want to read a memoir by a "Virginia housewife". So she left her domestic life out of the book - and turned her surroundings into a wilderness. The Thoreau of the Suburbs.
posted by paleyellowwithorange on Feb 5, 2015 - 21 comments

That evergreen feminist cautionary fable: The Handmaid's Tale

Does The Handmaid's Tale hold up? , Adi Robertson for The Verge:
"A few weeks ago, I mentioned to a friend that I was in the middle of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. 'It’s like 1984 for feminists, right?' he asked. Sort of, I said. But it's a lot scarier. It's about how you'll lose every right you have, and none of the men you know will care. Then I said he would probably betray me if they froze all women's bank accounts. That was the peak of my paranoia, but it held on for several more days, as I read on the subway while half-consciously figuring out how I might theoretically escape to Canada. 1984 was for lightweights."
[more inside] posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Dec 28, 2014 - 185 comments

César Aira

“I‘ve realized that the perfect length for what I do is 100 pages. In my brevity there may be an element of insecurity. I wouldn‘t dare give a 1,000-page novel to a reader […] My novels became shorter as I became more renowned. People now allow me to do whatever I want. At any rate, publishers prefer thick books. But with books, the thicker they are, the less literature they have.””—César Aira [more inside]
posted by misteraitch on Dec 15, 2014 - 24 comments

anxieties about lurid voyeurism, unwholesome interest: In Cold Blood

"Much has been said about the storytelling techniques of 'Serial,' which comes out in weekly installments even as the show’s host, Sarah Koenig, reinvestigates the conviction of a Baltimore-area teenager for the murder of his ex-girlfriend. The serialized approach teases its audience with cliffhangers, prompts its listeners to construct their own theories and invites outsiders to glimpse the tricky winnowing process of reporting. But 'Serial' also testifies to how much the criminal justice system itself is founded on storytelling." (Laura Miller, Salon: The new "In Cold Blood" revisionism: Why it doesn't matter if Capote’s classic wasn't fully true) [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Dec 8, 2014 - 31 comments

For all we see as wrong, some of its appeal might be in its rightness

I've been slightly under the weather for the last week, which means, of course, soup, self-pity and comfort reads. Rather than my traditional winter-sniffles re-re-re-read of the Belgariad, I thought I'd go wandering around the historical romance category. That is: duchess porn.
At Pornokitsch, Jared Shurin expresses appreciation for "5 things in historical romance I wantonly desire to see in epic fantasy," and commenters suggest where to find them. At the Journal of Popular Romance Studies, similarly meta yet more searching questions arise. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Nov 14, 2014 - 38 comments

Looking at Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" series.

Isaac Asimov's Foundation: The little idea that became science fiction's biggest series [SPOILERS] (io9)
On the planet Terminus, a group of academics struggles to survive as the Galactic Empire crumbles. With no weapons, all they can rely on are the predictions of a dead genius named Hari Seldon. That's right — it's time to discuss Isaac Asimov's Foundation!

Welcome to Foundation Week, a Blogging the Hugos special event. In 1983, Isaac Asimov won the Hugo Award for Best Novel for Foundation's Edge, in which he revisited his groundbreaking Foundation mythos for the first time in over thirty years. Because the Foundation series is such classic, quintessential, and beloved science fiction — the original stories won their own unique Hugo for Best All-Time Series in 1966, and influenced artists from Douglas Adams to George Lucas — Josh Wimmer and Alasdair Wilkins will be discussing each of the seven books between today and Sunday. We begin with Foundation, published in 1951.
[more inside] posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Nov 13, 2014 - 87 comments

An Atlas Of Hyperreal Cities And Where To Find Them

On Umberto Eco's latest book of imaginary maps to legendary lands.
posted by The Whelk on Nov 12, 2014 - 11 comments

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