1588 posts tagged with Literature.
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“...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

You do unbend your noble strength, to think/ So brainsickly of things.

Why 'MacBeth' seems to play better onscreen than onstage.
posted by shakespeherian on Nov 29, 2015 - 18 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

“...[F]ull of conversations, ready to launch into the world.”

So Amazon opened a new bookstore, and Paul Constant covered it for the Seattle Review of Books and ended up writing an eloquent defense of independent bookstores. [more inside]
posted by touchstone033 on Nov 23, 2015 - 37 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

“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

Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World

René Girard, literary theorist and religious historian, has died at the age of 91. The French-born academic and Immortel of the Académie Française first became famous for developing the idea of mimetic rivalry as a predominant theme in modern literature. Later, and more controversially, he argued for the centrality of violence and scapegoating in ancient religions, by which the sacrifice of a chosen victim restores peace in society. Most controversially of all, he argued that the Judeo-Christian tradition is unique in exposing and refuting this scapegoating mechanism. (Previously, previously)
posted by Cash4Lead on Nov 5, 2015 - 8 comments

"Will you walk a little faster?" said a whiting to a snail.

"Do you know the young lady?" I asked.
"My Mary? Impossible!"
"Witness: I should prefer not to answer.
"Let us
"I have heard of you, Mr. Holmes."
"I trust that I am not intruding." I am well acquainted with the accused.
Well, she was just a-biling.
"Was you in my Room?"
"I always give too much to ladies." I am!
'Hold your tongue!' said the Queen, turning purple.

--I asked a computer to write a novel that it thought was similar to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Nov 4, 2015 - 25 comments

They want to murder you in a well

In late December of 1895, the writer Stephen Crane—nervous, shabby, and all of twenty-three—attended the first annual dinner of the Society of the Philistines as its guest of honor. He little dreamed he was walking into one of history's first celebrity roasts.
posted by Iridic on Nov 4, 2015 - 8 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

Eyebrow game strong!

Charlotte Brontë sketch identified as self-portrait. [The Guardian]
A sketch of a woman’s head by Charlotte Brontë, previously thought to be of another pupil drawn while the author was at boarding school in Brussels, has been identified as a self-portrait. The literary biographer Claire Harman said the drawing, which she suggests shows Brontë looking into a mirror, preceded the novel Jane Eyre, in which the protagonist also draws herself in a similar fashion. The sketch dates from 1843, four years before Brontë published Jane Eyre, one of English literature’s great masterpieces, and when the young writer was suffering the agonies and insecurities of unrequited love.
posted by Fizz on Oct 27, 2015 - 13 comments

“That one is ridiculed by its fellow-birds for its stupidity”

The improbable emergence of Nell Zink.
posted by holmesian on Oct 25, 2015 - 9 comments

Digital poetry - Leaving the ivory tower

The challenge: if people would only know, hear, and see what poets did, then at least some of them would realize too how cool literature can actually be. - Three projects which engage in popularizing, mediating, and digitally archiving contemporary Hungarian poetry. [more inside]
posted by Wolfdog on Oct 25, 2015 - 0 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 ideal often clashes violently with the truth”

Visual Literacy in the Age of Open Content by Allana Mayer [JSTOR]
We have similar stories all throughout history: the moment when a perception—whether a literal way of seeing or a figurative mode of thinking—is assaulted and fundamentally shifts, a non-reversible alteration, a displacement from one’s old ways. Western society has seen plenty of moments like these, moments where a perceptive or critical threshold has been crossed.
posted by Fizz on Oct 20, 2015 - 5 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

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

Obama and Marilynne Robinson

President Obama & Marilynne Robinson: A Conversation in Iowa. "It seems to me as if democracy is the logical, the inevitable consequence of this kind of religious humanism at its highest level. And it [applies] to everyone. It’s the human image. It’s not any loyalty or tradition or anything else; it’s being human that enlists the respect, the love of God being implied in it."
posted by leesh on Oct 13, 2015 - 30 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

“What's past is prologue.”

Oregon Shakespeare Festival Launches Three-Year Shakespeare Translation Commissioning Project [Oregon Shakespeare Festival]
OSF is commissioning 36 playwrights and pairing them with dramaturgs to translate 39 plays attributed to Shakespeare into contemporary modern English between now and December 31, 2018. By seeking out a diverse set of playwrights (more than half writers of color and more than half women), we hope to bring fresh voices and perspectives to the rigorous work of translation. Play on!
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Oct 9, 2015 - 52 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

The 2015 Nobel Laureate in Literature is Svetlana Alexievich

Svetlana Alexievich is the latest recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature: "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time". Alexievich is a Belarusian writer and is unusual among Nobel laureates in that she is primarily a non-fiction writer. Her most famous book is Voices from Chernobyl, and you can read an extract in The Paris Review. You can read more about her books on her website and read excerpts in English. John Lloyd wrote a long review of her book Zinky Boys for the London Review of Books. And you can read an interview with her on the home page of her American publisher, Dalkey Archive.
posted by Kattullus on Oct 8, 2015 - 24 comments

Sleep Aid

"It’s late, and you’re still awake. Allow us to help with Sleep Aid, a series devoted to curing insomnia with the dullest, most soporific texts available in the public domain." [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Oct 7, 2015 - 49 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

“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

“Nobody ages like anybody else.”

What old age is really like. Getting beyond "Generic Old Man" and "Eccentric Old Woman" by examining literature by 'natives' of old age.
posted by BuddhaInABucket on Oct 2, 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

Are Women Funny?

"For men, it is a tragedy that the two things they prize the most—women and humor—should be so antithetical," wrote Christopher Hitchens in a 2007 Vanity Fair article. But the evidence against this view mounts. This year, for example, the three finalists for the Thurber Prize for American Humor are all women, guaranteeing that a woman wins the award for the first time. [more inside]
posted by touchstone033 on Sep 25, 2015 - 63 comments

The Ballad of Steinbjørn Jacobsen

I Sing for You an Apple is an account by writer and translator Eric Wilson of "escorting a Faroese poet-hero around the USA" in 1978. The poet-hero from the Faroe Islands was Steinbjørn Berghamar Jacobsen, who wrote fiction, poetry, plays and children's books in the language of his North-Atlantic archipelago. His works have not been translated into English, but they have been set to music. On Tinna og Tám he reads his own poems, accompanied by Kristian Blak and Heðin Ziska Davidsen (YouTube: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 ). And after his passing in 2012, two of his children, Kári and Eyð Jacobsen, made an album, Tungl, where they turned his poems into indie songs (YouTube: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).
posted by Kattullus on Sep 24, 2015 - 3 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

“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

The Democracy of Difficult Fiction

The value of fiction was clear to Virginia Woolf, who argued that nonfiction consists of half-truths and approximations that result in a "very inferior form of fiction." In Woolf's terms, reading ambitious fiction isn't comfortable or easy. Far from it: "To go from one great novelist to another—from Jane Austen to Hardy, from Peacock to Trollope, from Scott to Meredith—is to be wrenched and uprooted; to be thrown this way and then that." The illuminations that fiction offers are gained only with considerable effort. "To read a novel is a difficult and complex art," Woolf wrote. "You must be capable not only of great fineness of perception, but of great boldness of imagination if you are going to make use of all that the novelist—the great artist—gives you."
The Virtues of Difficult Fiction by Joanna Scott. She was interviewed by Larry Mantle on public radio show AirTalk about her essay. In the passage above Scott's quoting Woolf's How Should One Read a Book?
posted by Kattullus on Sep 7, 2015 - 16 comments

"What do you think of Joyce?" "Joyce who?"

Stephen Colbert Reading Flannery O'Connor's "The Enduring Chill" (SLSoundCloud).
posted by Cash4Lead on Sep 5, 2015 - 7 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

Women geeking out about geeky women

Reclaiming the Nerdiverse [NSFW audio] is a fascinating hour-long discussion about women in science fiction and fantasy on the late night edition of the venerable BBC radio show Woman's Hour (podcast link). The host is Lauren Laverne, and her guests are author and game designer Naomi Alderman, journalist Helen Lewis, sociologist Linda Woodhead, fantasy novelist Zen Cho, and cosplayer and writer Lucy Saxon. The discussion takes in everything from 70s feminist writers to alpha/beta/omega slash fiction to cosplay etiquette to geek sexism. The Late Night Woman's Hour has been the topic of some discussion in Britain.
posted by Kattullus on Sep 3, 2015 - 33 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

The Beat Generation

The Word is Beat: Poetry, Jazz, Literature and the Beat Generation "It is the aspiration of much literature that it wants to change the way we look at the world, but few authors and poets have been as influential as the group of writers labeled the Beat Generation. They saw a lot that they did not like about American society in the fifties when they came of age, and they did their best to change it through their literature and a new practice of living."
posted by Seekerofsplendor on Aug 26, 2015 - 4 comments

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