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The Contentious Legacy of William Gaddis

He also convincingly pitches Gaddis as an exemplar of what Thoreau called “the memorable interval” between “the language heard” and “the language read,” which he describes as “a reserved and select expression” that is “too significant to be heard by the ear, which we must be born again in order to speak.” This is a beautiful reiteration of how Gaddis’ novels, which sometimes contain nothing but dialogue for pages on end, echo the idea that “America itself can be regarded as nothing more, or less, than the speech of Americans.” --Jonathon Sturgeon reviews Joseph Tabbi's new biography of William Gaddis [more inside]
posted by chavenet on Jul 9, 2015 - 14 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

A Global Neuromancer

"I merely want to remind us that cyberspace is a literary invention and does not really exist, however much time we spend on the computer every day. There is no such space radically different from the empirical, material room we are sitting in, nor do we leave our bodies behind when we enter it, something one rather tends to associate with drugs or the rapture. But it is a literary construction we tend to believe in; and, like the concept of immaterial labor, there are certainly historical reasons for its appearance at the dawn of postmodernity which greatly transcend the technological fact of computer development or the invention of the Internet." - Fredric Jameson looks back on Neuromancer by William Gibson
posted by jammy on Jul 1, 2015 - 218 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

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

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

Grey day

I Read The New “Fifty Shades” Book (SLBuzzfeed) (NSFW)
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jun 18, 2015 - 121 comments

And what if when someone said “This is not okay,” we believed them?

This is a long, complicated story. I want to take a moment, here in the middle, to remind you that as Champion harassed, stalked, and threatened various members of the literary community, he was, still, interviewing prominent writers, receiving advanced copies of new books (perhaps even from Graywolf), attending industry meeting and parties, writing for national publications. Champion continued the work that, while he loved, put him in contact with people he had already, or would later, hurt.
The exile of Ed Champion: how one man could be both a celebrated member of the NY literary scene and a serial harasser and why he could get away with it. By Molly McArdle for Brooklyn Magazine.
posted by MartinWisse on Jun 14, 2015 - 68 comments

“It is a symbol of Irish art. The cracked lookingglass of a servant.”

Ulysses and Us by Declan Kiberd [Irish Times]
In some ways the fate of Ulysses reflects this openness, at least in the Dublin of today. It seems a work of high modernism, in the manner of a Proust or a Musil, yet it has become a signature element in the life of the city in which it is set. Each year hundreds, maybe thousands, dress as characters from the book – Stephen Dedalus with his cane, Leopold Bloom with bowler hat, Molly Bloom in her petticoats, Blazes Boylan in straw boater – as if to assert their willingness to become one with the text. They re-enact scenes on Eccles Street, on Ormond Quay and in the martello tower in Sandycove. It is impossible to imagine any other masterpiece of modernism having quite such an effect on the life of a city.
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Jun 13, 2015 - 22 comments

Hundreds of poems, introduced and interpreted by Carol Rumens

Poem of the Week is a series in The Guardian's books section, originally started by Sarah Crown but quickly taken over by poet, playwright and professor Carol Rumens. Every week she selects, introduces and interprets one poem. The archive has about four hundred poems, with only a few repeat poets, so here are a few favorites, ranging from English-language classics (John Donne, John Keats, Emily Dickinson), contemporary poets (Shazea Quraishi, Kei Miller, Katha Pollit) translated classics (Wang Wei, Horace, Rainer Maria Rilke), translated contemporary writers (Tua Forsström, Zeng Di, Aurélia Lassaque) the unfairly neglected (Adelaide Crapsey, Rosemary Tonks, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu), avant-garde (Gertrude Stein, Hugo Ball, John Ashbery) and anonymous (The Lyke-Wake Dirge, The Bridal Morn, This Endris Night). There are hundreds more on all kinds of subjects by all kinds of poets.
posted by Kattullus on Jun 9, 2015 - 6 comments

“Doubt makes a man decent.”

Harry Crews: Guilty As Charged [YouTube]
Examines the life and work of Harry Crews. Appearances by James Dickey, Byron Crews, Maggie Powell, Johnny Fieber and William Schafer. Music by Frank Schaap and Byron Crews. Associate Producers: Robert Morris and Latelle Lafollette. Camera and Lighting by Mike Brower and Arthur Rouse. Edited by Tom Thurman and Mike Brower.
posted by Fizz on Jun 9, 2015 - 10 comments

Women and Gender in the Middle Ages

Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index covers journal articles, book reviews, and essays in books about women, sexuality, and gender during the Middle Ages. [some pages may contain medieval nudity] [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Jun 8, 2015 - 6 comments

"Why do you have to talk about that stuff?"

David Sedaris talks about surviving the suicide of his sister Tiffany
posted by a lungful of dragon on Jun 2, 2015 - 78 comments

best books you can read in under an hour each

"For those who love books, but don’t have enough time for reading. Here are the best books you can read in under an hour each." 24 books to read in under an hour (infographic) by Piotr Kowalczyk at Ebook Friendly. (via Electric Literature) Previously: What to read when pressed for time
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on May 24, 2015 - 40 comments

That Whitsun, I was late getting away

Phillip Larkin was one of Britain's most famous twentieth century poets. He's probably most well known for 'This Be The Verse' (nsfw) but another notable poem was 'The Whitsun Weddings' based on a railway journey or journeys he undertook from Hull to London fifty years ago. Fellow poet Ian McMillan revisits that journey.
posted by fearfulsymmetry on May 24, 2015 - 14 comments

The Empathetic Camera

Frank Norris and the Invention of Film Editing: "At the heart of American author Frank Norris’ gritty turn-of-the-century fiction lies an essential engagement with the everyday shock and violence of modernity. Henry Giardina explores how this focus, combined with his unique approach to storytelling, helped to pave the way for a truly filmic style."
posted by Rumple on May 20, 2015 - 2 comments

The Master of the Apocalypse

László Krasznahorkai, the Hungarian author, wins the 2015 Man Booker International Prize. Awarded for his work, including the only recently available in English Satantango, and the The Melancholy of Resistance (1993 Book of the Year in Germany). Master of the long sentence his work has won praise from critics as a writer who is "fascinated by apocalypse, by broken revelations, indecipherable messages" [See New Yorker link above] and has been praised by many writers, including Susan Sontag, who described the apocalyptic vision of his writing as inviting comparisons to Melville and Gogol. He has collaborated extensively with Hungarian film director and master of the long take, Béla Tarr, including a 7 hour production of Satantango (SLYT) and Tarr's bleak, final work The Turin Horse (SLYT, Hungarian, turn sub-titles if required). Lovingly and expertly translated into English by British poet and Hungarian-born George Szirtes and more latterly by the Hungarian translator Ottilie Muzlet, Krashnorkai caused something of a literary sensation when he visited New York in 2012. As usual The Guardian has a useful summary of, and guide to, his work including many useful links. None are better than the author's own website. I would also recommend the interview with him in The White Review to read what the author has to say for himself. Previous love for Krasznahorkai on Metafilter can be found here and here.
posted by vac2003 on May 20, 2015 - 7 comments

A Broad Box Labeled "Beautiful Things"

For tens of thousands of years, wild horses have inspired humans - to nurture, to create, to slaughter - culminating in the past century of America’s legal and psychological battles over the horses we can’t own. [more inside]
posted by erratic meatsack on May 19, 2015 - 23 comments

Sex and gender doubleshot

17 Pathbreaking Non-Binary and Gender-Fluid Novels | You might be sexually fluid and not realize it — or even care
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on May 18, 2015 - 61 comments

Who is dying and why?

“It is the strangest of bureaucratic rituals,” write two New York Times reporters. “Every week or so, more than 100 members of the government’s sprawling national security apparatus gather, by secure video teleconference, to pore over terrorist suspects’ biographies and recommend to the president who should be the next to die.” In Washington, this weekly meeting has been labeled “Terror Tuesday.” Once established, the list of nominees is sent to the White House, where the president orally gives his approval to each name. With the “kill list” validated, the drones do the rest. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on May 17, 2015 - 55 comments

(there is sometimes cake and tarot readings)

On the Rebirth of Orlando: A Vibrant Literary Scene, in the Shadow of the Mouse (Ryan Rivas, Literary Hub)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on May 14, 2015 - 2 comments

Our Thing

“African Americans,” he wrote in one of his section introductions for Hokum, “like any other Americans, are an angry people with fragile egos. Humor is vengeance. Sometimes you laugh to keep from crying. Sometimes you laugh to keep from shooting … black folk are mad at everybody, so duck, because you’re bound to be in someone’s line of fire.” Paul Beatty on Satire, Racism and Writing for "Weirdos", from the Paris Review.
posted by chavenet on May 9, 2015 - 6 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

Gene Wolfe: The Reliably Unreliable Author

Whether it is Alden Dennis Weer in Peace, Severian in The Book of the New Sun and The Urth of the New Sun, Patera Silk in The Book of the Long Sun, Horn in the The Book of the Short Sun, Mr. Green in There Are Doors, or perhaps most interestingly Latro in Soldier of the Mist and its sequels, the vast majority of Wolfe’s narrators and perspective characters are explicitly shown to be unreliable. [more inside]
posted by smcg on May 8, 2015 - 78 comments

“tales of ships and storms … and the Congo.”

"We know that Conrad was an admirer of Stevenson’s work, and in fact that he thought more highly of Stevenson’s South Seas nonfiction writings than of his novels, at least according to Colvin, who knew both men. To my knowledge, however, no one has connected the next set of dots, not just from Stevenson’s writing to Conrad’s, but from Stevenson’s Samoan persona to Kurtz. Why not consider whether Stevenson’s grandiose island life influenced Conrad’s masterpiece?" Where Did Kurtz Come From? [single page], Matthew Pearl for Slate. Related: Conrad’s 'Heart of Darkness' gets operatic treatment (SF Examiner) | reviews (with stage photos).
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on May 7, 2015 - 7 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

Ten Things I Learned from Loving Anne of Green Gables

Realizing the gap between Anne and myself opened up a space for me, as a reader, to ask hard questions about even the books I cherish — and finally to move beyond these sorts of questions, realizing that expecting every character to be a role-model, a perfected version of myself, wasn’t the sort of feminist or reader I wanted to be.
[more inside] posted by Sokka shot first on Apr 27, 2015 - 20 comments

Distinctly Emasculated

[F. Scott] Fitzgerald saw homosexuality as a weakness—less a sexual predilection than something one undergoes in times of emotional distress. [Ernest] Hemingway used fiction to broadcast his virility after a sexually confusing childhood. Both were more sexually fluid than their contemporary reputations suggest. Cody C. Delistraty in The Paris Review
posted by chavenet on Apr 26, 2015 - 38 comments

Why Has ‘My Struggle’ Been Anointed a Literary Masterpiece?

William Deriesiwicz takes a contrarian point of view on Knausgaard's critically lauded series of novels: The term “hyperrealism” derives from the visual arts, where it refers to paintings that are designed to look like photographs. To call writing like Knausgaard’s hyperrealistic, to enthrone it as the apotheosis of realism, is to cede reality to the camera. It is to surrender everything that makes literature distinct from the photographic and the televisual: its ability to tell us what things look like, not to the eye, but to the mind, to the heart...How sad it is to imagine that some of our most prominent novelists look at My Struggle and think, That’s the book I wish I could have written. How depressing to suppose that just as modernism culminated in Joyce, Proust and Woolf, the literature of our own time has been leading up to… Knausgaard.
posted by shivohum on Apr 23, 2015 - 43 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

"Heh heh heh," everyone said.

The 2015 Lyttle Lytton results are in. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Apr 22, 2015 - 20 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

"History never really says goodbye. History says, 'See you later.'"

Eduardo Galeano, Uruguayan chronicler of Latin American history, politics, and football, has died at the age of 74 today in his hometown, Montevideo. [more inside]
posted by maskd on Apr 13, 2015 - 21 comments

"The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open."

Günter Grass, German Novelist and Social Critic, Dies at 87 [New York Times]
Günter Grass, the German novelist, social critic and Nobel Prize winner whom many called his country’s moral conscience but who stunned Europe when he revealed in 2006 that he had been a member of the Waffen-SS during World War II, died on Monday. He was 87.
Previously. [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Apr 13, 2015 - 36 comments

I was not part of that crowd that he was talking about

Larry Kramer’s The American People: Volume 1: Search for My Heart: A Novel (previously) is now on the shelves. [more inside]
posted by mandolin conspiracy on Apr 10, 2015 - 2 comments

"Failure is what writers do."

Falling short: seven writers reflect on failure is a collection of seven short essays on failure by writers Diana Athill, Margaret Atwood, Julian Barnes, Anne Enright, Howard Jacobson, Will Self and Lionel Shriver. These range from the meditative to the funny. Essays reflecting on literary failure are legion, but let me point you towards a couple more, the brief Failure Is Our Muse by Stephen Marche and the longer Fail Better by Zadie Smith.
posted by Kattullus on Apr 9, 2015 - 15 comments

Tolerable, I suppose.

The 5 Dreamiest Mr. Darcy’s In TV And Film | The Definitive Ranking of the Best Mr. Darcy Ever (Spoiler: Colin Firth) | Mr. Darcy Love (pinterest) | Can Mr. Darcy Ever Be Rude Enough? | 17 Reasons Mr. Darcy Isn’t Actually That Great | Mr Darcy vs Mr Thornton
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Apr 8, 2015 - 64 comments

"tell that I was loved by the Muses and that the Locrian land bore me"

12 short poems is all that remains of the work of Nossis, one of the most beloved of the Ancient Greek poets. Exactly when she lived is uncertain, but it's certain that she was from Locri, which was on the "toe" of Italy. You can read about what archaeologists have found out about the ancient city on the website Locri Epizephyrii, Welcome To Magna Graecia. Scholars have tried to use Nossis' poetry to explain the particulars of life in Locri, looking for support for claims that noble status descended matrilineally. Marilyn B. Skinner looks at the status of women and explores the "unusual aspects of religious practice at Locri" in her essay Nossis and Women's Cult at Locri. You can read different translations of some of Nossis' poems, three by Skinner and two by Diane Rayor.
posted by Kattullus on Apr 7, 2015 - 5 comments

Reddy, Peter, Chatterer...

The Burgess Animal Book for Children - text, illustrations, and audio. Thornton W. Burgess previously.
posted by Wolfdog on Apr 6, 2015 - 6 comments

Jumpin' Jehosaphat

Why Frogs Have Taken Over Passover: a comprehensive and captivating survey of frogs in legend and literature, just in time for everybody's plague-ridden holiday remembrance. [via mefi projects]
posted by Johnny Wallflower on Apr 2, 2015 - 8 comments

“Every person is a half-opened door leading to a room for everyone.”

Tomas Transtromer, Nobel-Winning Poet, Dies at 83 [New York Times] Previously.
posted by Fizz on Mar 29, 2015 - 13 comments

"There is something maddeningly attractive about the untranslatable"

Variations on the Right to Remain Silent is an essay by poet and classicist Anne Carson about translation, cliché, divine language and the way some words violently resist being explained. She touches on Homer, Sappho, Joan of Arc, Friedrich Hölderlin, and the painter Francis Bacon.
posted by Kattullus on Mar 28, 2015 - 6 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

Fear of a Muslim Planet

The micro-genre of “Islamophobic futurism” in fiction unites Western liberals and conservatives. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Mar 22, 2015 - 39 comments

The Hunter of Doves

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

“Thou hast seen nothing yet.”

Remains in Madrid Are Believed to Be Those of Cervantes [New York Times]
Spanish investigators said they had reason to believe that bones found at the Convent of the Discalced Trinitarians were those of the “Don Quixote” author.
posted by Fizz on Mar 18, 2015 - 24 comments

So what if Camus had made it to the cafe where Orwell was waiting?

One day in February 1945, in Paris, George Orwell waited at the café Deux Magots, where he was to meet Albert Camus for the first time.
"The Meeting That Never Was", an essay by Matthew Lamb in the LA Review of Books. [more inside]
posted by Celsius1414 on Mar 13, 2015 - 16 comments

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