382 posts tagged with Literature and books.
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“may someday help in a more objective assignment of books...”

Scientists find evidence of mathematical structures in classic books. [The Guardian] James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake has been described as many things, from a masterpiece to unreadable nonsense. But it is also, according to scientists at the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Poland, almost indistinguishable in its structure from a purely mathematical multifractal.
“The absolute record in terms of multifractality turned out to be Finnegans Wake by James Joyce. The results of our analysis of this text are virtually indistinguishable from ideal, purely mathematical multifractals,” said Professor Stanisław Drożdż, another author of the paper, which has just been published in the computer science journal Information Sciences.
posted by Fizz on Jan 28, 2016 - 28 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

“A tear in this fabric is all it takes for a story to begin.”

Why the British Tell Better Children’s Stories by Colleen Gillard [The Atlantic] Their history informs fantastical myths and legends, while American tales tend to focus on moral realism.
If Harry Potter and Huckleberry Finn were each to represent British versus American children’s literature, a curious dynamic would emerge: In a literary duel for the hearts and minds of children, one is a wizard-in-training at a boarding school in the Scottish Highlands, while the other is a barefoot boy drifting down the Mississippi, beset by con artists, slave hunters, and thieves. One defeats evil with a wand, the other takes to a raft to right a social wrong. Both orphans took over the world of English-language children’s literature, but their stories unfold in noticeably different ways.
posted by Fizz on Jan 10, 2016 - 89 comments

How fortunate you’re not Professor de Breeze

Given that it's no longer widely taught in even the most prestigious high schools in the US and UK, and given the current economic climate, Why should Millennials Study the Classics?
posted by Potomac Avenue on Jan 5, 2016 - 47 comments

“So many books, so little time.”

The Great 2016 Book Preview [The Millions]
We think it’s safe to say last year was a big year for the book world. In addition to new titles by Harper Lee, Jonathan Franzen, and Lauren Groff, we got novels by Ottessa Moshfegh, Claire Vaye Watkins, and our own Garth Risk Hallberg. At this early stage, it already seems evident this year will keep up the pace. There’s a new Elizabeth Strout book, for one, and a new Annie Proulx; new novels by Don DeLillo, Curtis Sittenfeld, Richard Russo and Yann Martel; and much-hyped debut novels by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney and Callan Wink. There’s also a new book by Alexander Chee, and a new translation of Nobel Prize-winner Herta Müller. The books previewed here are all fiction. A non-fiction preview will follow next week. While there’s no such thing as a list that has everything, we feel certain this preview — at 8,600 words and 93 titles — is the only 2016 book preview you’ll need.
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Jan 4, 2016 - 45 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

“If creativity is the field, copyright is the fence.”

Public Domain Day: January 1, 2016 [Center for the Study of Public Domain] [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Jan 1, 2016 - 11 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

Sci Sci Fi

Scientists on their favourite science fiction
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Dec 30, 2015 - 60 comments

“Fiction is Truth's elder sister.”

An unexpected revival for the ‘bard of empire’. [The Guardian] ‘Vulgar rabble-rouser’, ‘rootless cosmopolitan’, ‘mouthpiece of the empire’ Rudyard Kipling has had his share of detractors. But, 150 years after his birth, interest in India’s greatest English-language writer is growing.
They are not alone. Kipling, the “bard of empire”, has always been difficult to place in the cultural pantheon. Britain, too, has done remarkably little to officially mark the sesquicentenary of its first winner (in 1907) of the Nobel prize for literature (and still the youngest ever from anywhere). Indian-born, yet British? We are already entering the muddy field of contradictions that sometimes bog down the reputation of this mild-mannered man. Yet it is these that make him uniquely appealing and that, belying top-level institutional indifference, are sparking an unexpected revival of interest in him, and in particular in his role as a commentator on the origins of an integrated global culture.
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Dec 26, 2015 - 90 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

NPR’s Book Concierge

Once again, NPR has organized their list of the year's best books into the Book Concierge, a recommendation engine with 29 categories - everything from It's All Geek to Me to The Dark Side to Eye-Opening Reads - available to mix, match, and sort.
posted by everybody had matching towels on Dec 8, 2015 - 11 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

When Popular Fiction Isn't Popular

Genre, Literary, and the Myths of Popularity: The massively popular books are very rarely among the best, whether shelved as “genre” or as “literary.” Want to know what the best-selling book of the year has been? Go Set a Watchmen, a cash-grab novel that many have argued was unethical to even publish. The second? Grey, another cash-grab where E. L. James rewrote 50 Shades from a male point of view. (And, yes, Hollywood “reboot” culture is absolutely coming to the literary world in the near future. I mean, hey, it’s popular.) (Lincoln Michel for Electric Lit) [more inside]
posted by frumiousb on Dec 3, 2015 - 24 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

“Why can't people just sit and read books and be nice to each other?”

The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2015 The year’s notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.
posted by Fizz on Nov 27, 2015 - 27 comments

“Some books are clearly disappointing, however.”

Betting Big on Literary Newcomers [The Wallstreet Journal] The publishing industry’s hunt for the next blockbuster has given rise to an elite new club: the million-dollar literary debut.
The need to secure one of the few must-read books of the year has given rise to an elite new club: the million-dollar literary debut. At least four literary debut novels planned for 2016 earned advances reported at $1 million or more, a number agents say is striking in the world of highbrow fiction. At least three such debuts were published this year, and two in 2014. “City on Fire,” by first-time novelist Garth Risk Hallberg, came out last month amid a flurry of publicity after receiving a nearly $2 million advance from Alfred A. Knopf, one of the largest ever for a literary debut.
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Nov 26, 2015 - 26 comments

“We actually met because of Russian literature.”

Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, The Art of Translation No. 4 [The Paris Review] [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Nov 21, 2015 - 20 comments

Literature of the Strange

The 10 Best Genre-Bending Books - PublishersWeekly
20 Strange and Wonderful Books - cartania.com
10 Ultra-Weird Science Fiction Novels that Became Required Reading - io9
10 Weirdest Science Fiction Novels That You've Never Read - also io9
China Miéville's top 10 weird fiction books - The Guardian
The Weird: An Introduction - Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, Weird Fiction Review
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Nov 14, 2015 - 53 comments

“Thou dids’t not know my gaze was fixed on thee,”

Unpublished Charlotte Brontë story and poem discovered. [The Guardian]
The short story features a public flogging, embezzling from the Wesleyan chapel, and a “vicious” caricature of the Reverend John Winterbottom – a religious opponent of the children’s father. Winterbottom is “in the middle of the night dragged from his bed” and then “by the heels from one end of the village to the other”, writes Charlotte in the story. The poem features Mary Percy, the lovesick wife of the king of Angria Zamorna, and “one of the leading Angria characters”, said Dinsdale.
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Nov 12, 2015 - 7 comments

“...the novella is not an immature or effeminate novel.”

The Novella Is Not The Novel’s Daughter: An Argument in Notes by Lindsey Drager [Michigan Quarterly Review] [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Nov 10, 2015 - 37 comments

Hell—Nothing Less—And Without End

“The uprising,” we told each other immediately, like everyone else in Warsaw. [more inside]
posted by hat_eater on Nov 3, 2015 - 3 comments

Perhaps she even wiggled her toes, just like Pippi.

Who was the woman behind Pippi Longstocking? Freshly released wartime diaries along with a new biography reveal Astrid Lindgren, author of some of the world's most beloved children's literature, to be as radical and determined as her best-known character.
posted by ellieBOA on Oct 22, 2015 - 21 comments

The master of slow-burning action.

"There’s a long and noble tradition of literary critics misunderstanding Joseph Conrad. Partly that’s because he is such a complicated, dense and fascinating writer. Far more words have been written about him than he ever wrote himself – and not everyone can get it right all the time. Especially when you throw combustible postcolonial issues into the mix." [Sam Jordison - The Guardian] [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Oct 14, 2015 - 34 comments

Where do you find out about Russian criminals?

Librarian Edith Edi Campbell posted to her Facebook page about “Large Fears,” a Kickstarter-funded children’s book for queer black boys, “I would say there are so few books for queer black boys, but there are too few books for all our marginalized young people.” Children’s writer Meg Rosoff responded: “There are not too few books for marginalised young people. There are hundreds of them, thousands of them. You don’t have to read about a queer black boy to read a book about a marginalised child. The children’s book world is getting far too literal about what ‘needs’ to be represented. You don’t read Crime and Punishment to find out about Russian criminals. Or Alice and Wonderland to know about rabbits. Good literature expands your mind. It doesn’t have the ‘job’ of being a mirror.” [more inside]
posted by touchstone033 on Oct 13, 2015 - 48 comments

What's the frequency, kid?

A Highly Irregular Children’s Story: David Gates reviews The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine, a children's book by Donald Barthelme. [Virginia Quarterly Review, Spring 1976]
posted by Lorin on Oct 9, 2015 - 5 comments

The winner will be revealed on November 10.

The Scotiabank Giller Prize presents its 2015 shortlist. The five titles were chosen from a longlist of 12 books announced on September 9, 2015. One hundred and sixty-eight titles were submitted by 63 publishers from every region of the country. [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Oct 8, 2015 - 7 comments

Novel geography

The Map of Literature. Martin Vargic, creator of the Map of the Internet 1.0, has created an insanely detailed "National Geographic" map of Literature, where "Jurassic Park is located between 1984 and Clear and Present Danger on the continent of Thrillers, a stone's throw away from H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds." [more inside]
posted by storybored on Oct 6, 2015 - 6 comments

Banned Book Week is a Crock...?

Ruth Graham, in a Slate piece entitled, Banned Books Week is a Crock, argued that censorship is no longer a problem in the United States. Censorship laws are nearly extinct, and if your local library doesn't have the book...well, you can always find it online. "This Banned Books Week," writes Graham, "instead of hand-wringing about a nonexistent wave of censorship, let’s celebrate the obvious: The books won." But have they? [more inside]
posted by touchstone033 on Sep 29, 2015 - 94 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

“the best example in all of American poetry of a wolf in sheep’s cloth”

The Most Misread Poem in America by David Orr [The Paris Review]
“And almost everyone gets it wrong. This is the most remarkable thing about “The Road Not Taken”—not its immense popularity (which is remarkable enough), but the fact that it is popular for what seem to be the wrong reasons. [...] Frost’s poem turns this expectation on its head. Most readers consider “The Road Not Taken” to be a paean to triumphant self-assertion (“I took the one less traveled by”), but the literal meaning of the poem’s own lines seems completely at odds with this interpretation. The poem’s speaker tells us he “shall be telling,” at some point in the future, of how he took the road less traveled by, yet he has already admitted that the two paths “equally lay / In leaves” and “the passing there / Had worn them really about the same.” So the road he will later call less traveled is actually the road equally traveled. The two roads are interchangeable.”
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Sep 12, 2015 - 71 comments

Does Thomas Pynchon have a new book out?

Did Thomas Pynchon publish a novel under the pseudonym Adrian Jones Pearson?
posted by holmesian on Sep 11, 2015 - 40 comments

“We are thrilled when fragments of reality become utterable.”

The Mysterious, Anonymous Author Elena Ferrante on the Conclusion of Her Neapolitan Novels [Vanity Fair]
Passions run high when you’re talking about Elena Ferrante and her work, particularly her sensational, highly addictive Neapolitan novels, which paint a portrait of a consuming female friendship against the backdrop of social and political upheaval in Italy from the 1950s to the present day. My Brilliant Friend,The Story of a New Name, and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay have made Ferrante, an enigmatic figure who writes under a pseudonym, and is widely regarded as the best contemporary novelist you’ve never heard of, a worldwide sensation.
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Sep 3, 2015 - 17 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

A Critical Library

What books should a critic own? "Each week, the National Book Critics Circle will post a list of five books a critic believes reviewers should have in their libraries." Here are all the lists, from 2007-2011. [more inside]
posted by thetortoise on Aug 29, 2015 - 14 comments

“So you have put your hope in something else.”

Living in the Age of Permawar by Mohsin Hamid [The Guardian]
You see from your nook that humanity is afflicted by a great mass murderer about whom we are encouraged not to speak. The name of that murderer is Death. Death comes for everyone. Sometimes Death will pick out a newborn still wet from her aquatic life in her mother’s womb. Sometime Death will pick out a man with the muscles of a superhero, pick him out in repose, perhaps, or in his moment of maximum exertion, when his thighs and shoulders are trembling and he feels most alive. Sometimes Death will pick singly. Sometimes Death will pick by the planeload. Sometimes Death picks the young, sometimes the old, and sometimes Death has an appetite for the in-between. You feel it is strange that humanity does not come together to face this killer, like a silver-flashing baitball of 7 billion fish aware of being hunted by a titanic and ravenous shark. Instead, humanity scatters. We face our killer alone, or in families, or in towns or cities or tribes or countries. But never all together.
posted by Fizz on Aug 23, 2015 - 7 comments

nothing I can do except die or, I suppose, retire and never write again.

Jonathan Franzen 'considered adopting Iraqi orphan to figure out young people'. [The Guardian]
In a setup that would not look out of place in fiction, Jonathan Franzen, the bestselling American novelist, has said he once considered adopting an Iraqi war orphan to help him understand young people better, but was persuaded against it by his editor. Franzen said he was in his late 40s at the time with a thriving career and a good relationship but he felt angry with the younger generation. “Oh, it was insane, the idea that Kathy [his partner] and I were going to adopt an Iraqi war orphan. The whole idea lasted maybe six weeks.”
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Aug 21, 2015 - 98 comments

“This is the literature of Louisiana.”

Patter and Patois by Walter Mosley [New York Times] Walter Mosley writes about his relationship to the literature of Louisiana.
“Louisiana flowed in that blood and across those tongues. Louisiana — a state made famous by Walt Whitman and Tennessee Williams, Ernest Gaines and Arna Bontemps, Kate Chopin and Anne Rice. These writers, from many eras, races and genres, took the voices of the people and distilled them into the passionate, almost desperate, stories that opened readers to a new kind of suffering and exultation.”
posted by Fizz on Aug 8, 2015 - 1 comment

“I write and that way rid myself of me and then at last I can rest.”

A Passion for the Void: Understanding Clarice Lispector’s Strange and Surreal Fiction. [The New Republic]
Plenty of writers inspire fierce devotion in their readers—the David Foster Wallace acolytes, with their duct-taped copies of Infinite Jest, come to mind, as do the smug objectivists dressed in tech-world casual who owe their entire world view to Ayn Rand. But no one converts the uninitiated into devout believers as suddenly and as vertiginously as Clarice Lispector, the Latin-American visionary, Ukranian-Jewish mystic, and middle-class housewife and mother so revered by her Brazilian fans that she's known by a single name: "Clarice."
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Aug 5, 2015 - 8 comments

Poor Anne.

If this is a real picture of the Brontës, then I'm Heathcliff! [The Guardian] A collector is convinced that the £15 photograph he snapped up on eBay is of the Brontë sisters. It’s highly unlikely, but the story is a mark of our enduring fascination with the literary family. Plus, a Brontë Society expert gives her verdict. Could this be the only photograph of the three Brontë sisters? asked Seamus Molloy [Daily Mail], who picked the photograph up for 15 quid on eBay.
posted by Fizz on Jul 26, 2015 - 9 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

Obsessively Detailed Map of American Literature's Most Epic Road Trips

Obsessively Detailed Map of American Literature's Most Epic Road Trips
"The...map is the result of a painstaking and admittedly quixotic effort to catalog the country as it has been described in the American road-tripping literature. It includes every place-name reference in 12 books about cross-country travel...and maps the authors' routes on top of one another. You can track an individual writer's descriptions of the landscape as they traveled across it, or you can zoom in to see how different authors have written about the same place at different times."
[more inside] posted by kirkaracha on Jul 23, 2015 - 22 comments

“always surprised people are surprised that people haven’t read things.”

From Steinbeck to Cervantes: Confessing Our Literary Gaps by Sarah Galo, Elon Green [Hazlitt] Authors, journalists, and assorted literary stalwarts tell us why they’ve missed the famous books they’ve missed. [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Jul 22, 2015 - 78 comments

📕

Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview [The Millions]
If you like to read, we’ve got some news for you. The second-half of 2015 is straight-up, stunningly chock-full of amazing books. The list that follows isn’t exhaustive — no book preview could be — but, at 9,100 words strong and encompassing 82 titles, this is the only second-half 2015 book preview you will ever need. Scroll down and get started.
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Jul 6, 2015 - 39 comments

Southern Gothic’s global appeal

"Although it has been said that every person is the hero of their own life story, it is more accurate to say that every person is the underdog of their own life story." Why southern gothic rules the world [SLGuardian], MO Walsh
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Jul 4, 2015 - 8 comments

the paradigmatic fantasy of the Age of Aquarius

Dune, 50 years on
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jul 3, 2015 - 100 comments

Titty, Cock, Intercourse and Ejaculation

In more innocent days, you could write about cocks and not be misunderstood. Unintentional double entendres.
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jun 26, 2015 - 52 comments

Almosting a Joycean Listicle

"In keeping with James Joyce’s own love of lists, here’s a terribly subjective list of ten books published in this century that are in different ways as inventive as Ulysses was in 1922. These novels aren’t necessarily inspired by Ulysses, except insofar as it has affected every subsequent novel, but like Joyce’s masterpiece they challenge us in ways we never knew to expect. If nothing else, Bloomsday should remind us to pick up some books not despite their difficulty but because of it." (Electric Literature) [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Jun 22, 2015 - 32 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

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