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?"
Authors choose their favourite short stories. For the next two weeks over the festive period we will be running a short story podcast each day. Our contributing authors introduce the stories they have chosen to read. Ford reads Carver. Gordimer reads Saramago. Selfs reads Borges. Postcasts are being posted here. [previously]
"We fall into genre wars, of literature versus science fiction, and I don't think it's a real war." - Lauren Beukes
The Guardian interviewed four science fiction authors on the theme of the current state of SF. These authors are, in order, Lauren Beukes, Michael Moorcock, Alistair Reynolds and Jeff Noon, the latter two being interviewed together. Opinion ranges from bullish to crotchety, with plenty of shades and nuances.
Twelve Tales of Christmas is a podcast just launched by The Guardian featuring notable modern authors, such as Jeanette Winterson, Ali Smith, Colm Toíbin and Julian Barnes, reading one of their favorite short stories, by authors including JG Ballard, Katherine Mansfield, Italo Calvino, Ernest Hemingway and Raymond Carver. A story will be posted daily for the next 12 days. The first author and story is Philip Pullman reading The Beauties by Anton Chekhov (mp3). [rss, iTunes]
this petty-bourgeois uptightness, this terror of not being in control, this schoolboy desire to boast and to shock
The 2010 Booker longlist is out, and it seems that most of the buzz in the UK is about who's not on the list. The Guardian article "Amis-free Booker prize longlist promises to 'entertain and provoke'" introducing the list of 13 nominees actually devotes its headline, subhead, and most of the first four paragraphs to the subject of who's missing in action: Amis, McEwan, Rushdie. Elsewhere in the Guardian Books section, research professor Gabriel Josipovici pulls no punches in including these (former?) darlings of the glitterati in his assertion that Feted British authors are limited, arrogant and self-satisfied, compares them to "prep-school boys showing off," calls them "virtually indistinguishable from one another in scope and ambition," and muses that the fact that they have won so many awards is "a mystery." [more inside]
Back to the Hugos is a series by Sam Jordison of the Guardian Books blog where he reads and reviews old Hugo Award winners. He was once skeptical of the literary quality of science fiction but then started to examine the validity of the critical orthodoxy and is now a firm convert, as this review of The Man in the High Casle demonstrates, and now even goes to science fiction events. Among the other books he's covered so far are A Case of Conscience by James Blish, Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner and the latest review is of The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin. It's not all sunshine and roses though, The Big Time and The Wanderer by Fritz Leiber don't appeal to him and the dreadfulness of They'd Rather Be Right by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley makes Jordison doubt the value of democracy, at least when it comes to selecting litearary award winners.
1000 novels worth reading [about], from the Guardian. Part of its ongoing 1000 series: 1000 albums, 1000 films, 1000 artworks. More than a list, it includes sub-articles and paragraph long write-ups of each.
anonymity is often a sure route to notoriety. An article on anonymous authors from The Guardian.
The Digested Read at The Guardian reduces popular books to 400 words and a conclusion. Recent notables include Belle du Jour ("Sometimes I lie about my age to clients. Sometimes I even lie to my friends. I guess you must be wondering whether I'm lying now.") Crichton's State of Fear ("Author's note: I'm very, very clever and have read a lot and you're all stupid wishy-washy liberals.") and Tom Wolfe's I am Charlotte Simmons ("At least it covered her breasts, whatever they were. Charlotte knew men might want to touch them, but she didn't know why as she had never read Cosmopolitan.") Possibly NSFW if you have an employer with no sense of humor. On preview: Individual Digested Reads have been linked in previous discussions on Henry James and Camille Paglia.
10 Books to Feed the Imagination. Just in time for World Book Day, Lady Georgia Byng offers her favorite tomes for sparking a child's fancy. The usual suspects are here (Roald Dahl, J.K. Rowling, Philip Pullman) with a couple of welcome surprises (Yann Martel and Jostein Gaarder). But tell me, MeFites ... which others did she miss?
Salman Rushdie defends fellow writer Michel Houellebecq, the autonomy of the literary text and its right to be considered on its own terms with characters of every sort.
Who's the Best-Read MeFite? The 100 best works of fiction (as chosen by Norwegian Book Clubs) (via Archipelapogo via rebeccablood). Sure, it's arbitrary, but there's a lot of great writing here. Bragging rights awarded (unless someone cares to sweeten the pot). How many have you read?