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"'The family division is rooted in the same ground as fiction..."

Ian McEwan: the law versus religious belief. [The Guardian]
The conjoined twins who would die without medical intervention, a boy who refused blood transfusions on religious grounds…Ian McEwan on the stories from the family courts that inspired his latest novel.
[more inside]
posted by Fizz on Sep 13, 2014 - 10 comments

Stirlitz had a thought. He liked it, so he had another one.

A Soviet take on Rambo (brief clip; Rutube) is "unique in its violence and anti-Americanism." A Russian point of view on James Bond remarks that "so widespread was the interest in Bond that an official Soviet spy serial ... was released." But the spy novel / miniseries Seventeen Moments of Spring (somewhat digestible in 17 highlights with commentary: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17) is for interesting reasons not a Soviet counterpart to James Bond or Rambo. See also Seventeen Moments fanfic, two pages of jokes about its hero, and how he figures in the present. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Aug 16, 2014 - 9 comments

Fiction and reality intertwine in Russia and Ukraine.

The Sci-Fi Writers' War. "A pro-Western, NATO-backed Ukrainian government faces a stubborn insurgency in the pro-Russian East. Fighting rages around Donetsk, with civilians dying in artillery fire and airstrikes, while Russian troops mass on the Ukrainian border. The latest headlines? No, a two-novel series by Russian-Ukrainian science-fiction writer Fedor Berezin: War 2010: The Ukrainian Front and War 2011: Against NATO. In a startling plot twist, Berezin, a 54-year-old former Soviet Army officer and Donetsk native, is now living inside a real-life version of his own story: He is deputy defense minister of the embattled 'Donetsk People’s Republic.'"
posted by Sticherbeast on Aug 1, 2014 - 17 comments

Draculas? Draculae? Draculii?

The gals at Anglo-Filles have an entertaining (and epicly long) talk about the history of Dracula and vampires as characters and symbols throughout the ages and throughout fiction - topics discussed include Varney The Vampire, The Vienna Vampire Scare, Where Does Sunlight Killing Vampires Come From, The Secret Spanish Dracula, and Jonathan Harker As An Abuse Survivor.
posted by The Whelk on Jul 24, 2014 - 30 comments

The modern American realist novel in a time of r>g

In the LA Review of Books, Stephen Marche reflects upon the Literature of the Second Gilded Age. In his recently published book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, economist Thomas Piketty argues that when r>g, that is, when an economy's annual rate of return on capital exceeds the economy's annual rate of growth, wealth inequality tends to increase, and that this condition has held both during the 19th century and since around the latter quarter of the 20th century. Unusually for an economics book, Piketty's work makes reference to several pre 20th-century works of fiction. Stephen Marche discusses role of this literature in Piketty's book. He goes on to critique the modern American social-realist novel. Although these books are not discussed by Piketty, according to Piketty's research they too pertain to a time in which r>g. Marche however accuses the more modern literature of being a "restrained, aspirational product" with "most of its sting removed".
posted by mister_kaupungister on Jun 24, 2014 - 15 comments

“I played with them, I fought with them, I shared their locker rooms”

Holt, Reinhart, and Winston published Amazons: An Intimate Memoir by the First Woman Ever to Play in the National Hockey League in the fall of 1980 ... In over-the-top comically implausible prose, [Cleo] Birdwell, a twenty-three-year-old from Badger, Ohio, narrates her inaugural season with the New York Rangers. She has a Midwestern practicality and straight-forwardness, a sly humor, and an unusually subversive sexual candor and agency, chronicling—sans any standard female shame or hesitancy—her plentiful sexual liaisons with a gamut of neurotic men. The dialogue is masterful and playful and the humor unremitting. Yet beneath Birdwell’s narration, a foreboding lurks—a tinge of sadness and an existential-like searching-ness. That’s because Cleo Birdwell is a pseudonym for Don Delillo.
posted by chavenet on Jun 17, 2014 - 17 comments

That is I's gleaning. Now is doing of it.

A-hind of hill, ways off to sun-set-down, is sky come like as fire, and walk I up in way of this, all hard of breath, where is grass colding on I's feet and wetting they. [more inside]
posted by infinitewindow on Jun 7, 2014 - 35 comments

A Novel Use

Stuck on that novel or just looking for some writing inspiration? Swing by the WritingPrompts subreddit for a wealth of clever prompts, each with a different set of constraints. Be sure to browse the stories submitted in the comments. [more inside]
posted by spiderskull on Dec 21, 2013 - 3 comments

Hobbits would only drink ales since lagers are not found on Middle-earth

So, you want to eat like a hobbit do you? The big old dragon of Middle-Earth recipes is the charmingly retro 'Middle-Earth Recipes' (now with a more modern and photo-friendly blog version ) from which NPR's Beth Accomando has complied an all-day feasting menu suitable for marathon watching (or reading) assorted Lord Of The Rings media while Recipewise sticks to foods served by Bilbo in The Hobbit itself and explains the Victorian convention of high vs. low tea. (Author Diane Duane's own Hobbit-inspired recipe, Took Family Seed Cake can be made with poppy rather than caraway seed if that's your thing) Need something to do while digesting? Why not read about the history and meaning of the rural comfort food in Tolkien at Strange Horizons " Well Stocked Larders: Food And Diet Of Hobbits" by Stephanie Green.
posted by The Whelk on Dec 15, 2013 - 45 comments

Chomsky-Man?

In the summer of 2012, Jeffrey Wilson interviewed Noam Chomsky.
“When the police came into [Occupy Wall Street] under Bloomberg’s orders and smashed up Zuccotti Park one of the things that they did was destroy all the books. You have got to destroy books that are dangerous. It has a long tradition back to the middle ages. Arizona knows all about that.”
They discussed the Occupy movement (previously) and its roots in previous resistance movements, back to the Civil Right Movement Spanish Civil War. To bring the conversation to a mass audience, he's now publishing the transcript as a comic book. The artwork so far is beautiful. [more inside]
posted by mutesolo on Nov 19, 2013 - 23 comments

"A mind as curious, subtle, and complex as yours, as mine, as anyone’s."

The book that helped me understand my son. Author David Mitchell's introduction to The Reason I Jump, a newly-translated memoir by thirteen-year-old Naoki Higashida on what it's like to have autism.
posted by Rory Marinich on Sep 8, 2013 - 13 comments

"In a rare feat..."

The pseudonymous author behind the critically-acclaimed mystery novel The Cuckoo's Calling has been outed. And it's J. K. Rowling.
posted by Rory Marinich on Jul 13, 2013 - 140 comments

Andrea was tall and angry. I was a little bit shorter.

Daniel Handler, best known for A Series of Unfortunate Events and his accordion work with Stephin Merritt and The Magnetic Fields, reads a chapter from his novel Adverbs, which made Dave Eggers describe Handler as "something like an American Nabakov". An excerpt from another chapter, Immediately, is available courtesy of the New York Times. Handler's first adult novel, the nightmarishly satirical The Basic Eight (think the movie Heathers with a less reliable a narrator), is also well worth a read (excerpt from Google Books).
posted by Rory Marinich on May 18, 2013 - 16 comments

"an inadequate title for this ragbag of lectures and classes"

Literature and Form is a series of four lectures by Oxford literature academic Dr. Catherine Brown. The lectures are on the themes of unreliable narrators, chapters, multiple plotting and what comparative literature is. You can listen to it as a podcast or through iTunes U. In this lecture series Brown primarily looks at some central structures of the novel as well as examining what the study of literature entails. Brown weaves in examples from world literature, especially English and Russian literature of the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries.
posted by Kattullus on May 15, 2013 - 6 comments

The short sci-fi/fantasy/noir/b-movie stories of Richard Kadrey

Richard Kadrey is not the most prolific novelist in the world. Still, every five, six years or so out comes another book like Metrophage, or Kamikaze L'Amour, dark, violent, intense works mostly set in and around Los Angeles with characters straight out of a good punk rock song. The self-confessing film nerd is probably best known for his Sandman Slim series, and if you're impatient for the forthcoming Dead Set novel, you can bide your time with a ton of short stories online. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on May 7, 2013 - 14 comments

Happy Objectified Scotsman Thursday!

Bad Romances is a tumblr celebration of awful Romance novel covers (Related: Awful Fantasy Covers)
posted by The Whelk on Apr 19, 2013 - 56 comments

"His writing is not about something; it is that something itself."

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?"
posted by the man of twists and turns on Feb 19, 2013 - 18 comments

Ian McEwan's Uneasy Relationship With Fiction

When I Stop Believing in Fiction, by Ian McEwan
posted by rollick on Feb 16, 2013 - 15 comments

Highlighting forgotten, neglected, abandoned, forsaken, unrecognized, unacknowledged, overshadowed, out-of-fashion, under-translated writers.

Writers No One Reads
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 17, 2012 - 34 comments

Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work

The author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, a popular MetaFilter topic, was born 177 years ago today (November 30th 1835) in Missouri. The printer, riverboat pilot, game designer, journalist, lecturer, technology investor, gold miner, publisher and patent holder wrote short stories, essays, novels and non-fiction under the pen name Mark Twain. This included The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (recently adapted into a musical), one of the top five challenged books of the 1990s, published in 1884-85 to a mixed reception and with an ending that still causes debate. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Nov 30, 2012 - 42 comments

"I often read dozens of books simultaneously."

My 6,128 Favorite Books - "Joe Queenan on how a harmless juvenile pastime turned into a lifelong personality disorder."
posted by the man of twists and turns on Nov 26, 2012 - 150 comments

New chapter of "Answered Prayers" published

A small piece of Truman Capote’s famously unfinished novel Answered Prayers has come to light. The six-page story, “Yachts and Things,” found among Capote’s papers in the Manuscripts and Archives Division of the New York Public Library, is published in the December issue of Vanity Fair, out now in New York and nationally next week. The story will be available online in mid-November. [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen on Nov 1, 2012 - 13 comments

The horror, the horror

The 55 Scariest Scenes from Fantasy/SF/Horror movies by the jewel-in-the-crown-of-Gawker io9 features many clips guaranteed to freak you out. Along the same lines, and also from io9, is an excellent list of ten novels that are scarier than horror movies.
posted by blahblahblah on Oct 26, 2012 - 52 comments

"The first is that it is dull, dull, dull in a pretentious, florid and archly fatuous fashion"

Fifteen Scathing Early Reviews Of Classic Novels
posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 17, 2012 - 69 comments

Creative Director Starts Drinking Heavily

How Does An Idea Become A Book? (flowchart)
posted by The Whelk on Sep 29, 2012 - 25 comments

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, went on sale 75 years ago today. The first printing, by Allen & Unwin, was for 1,500 copies (which now fetch a premium at auction); the first reviewer, the son of the publisher, was paid a shilling. Through a contorted publishing history, exact or even approximate sales figures are unknown; "over a hundred million" is often quoted. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Sep 21, 2012 - 108 comments

The main African American character in the novel is referred to as a "beast-man."

It's about a year since the storied Weird Tales magazine (previously) got a new editor and sacked its staff (previously), so WT elected to celebrate that milestone by publishing some text from actress, film director, sometime blogger and new author Victoria Foyt's debut Revealing Eden: Save the Pearls. Some people have a problem with its content and its video. [more inside]
posted by Mezentian on Aug 22, 2012 - 92 comments

I want to plural, to discuss not the novel but novels, not the future, but futures.

China Miéville: the future of the novel [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Aug 21, 2012 - 13 comments

James Salter's "A Sport and a Pastime"

James Salter's A Sport and a Pastime is one of those very rare novels that seems not so much to have been written as discovered. At its heart is a love story, an encounter, that transforms its relatively ordinary protagonists into beings around whom the entire cosmos shapes itself. The love story is delicate and ephemeral, put together out of bits and pieces, like a bird's nest. The vulnerable lovers tremble, in the most mundane circumstances, on the edge of catastrophe. Simply the way one of them moves across the room to meet the other seems miraculous and hazardous. Were they to become aware of themselves everything would be lost. But there is no danger of that. Oblivious, they tiptoe on a precipice. They do not and cannot know that their innocence cloaks them in a kind of divinity and infallibility. Actions and attitudes we expect to bring them down don't. They do things that seem so perfect, so poignant, without knowing they are doing anything at all. They arc beautifully across our path, and then vanish. - Michael Doliner (previously) [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen on Jul 31, 2012 - 8 comments

The heroine’s socioeconomic position and much of her character were determined by real estate.

For his 2008 novel The Museum of Innocence, about a man who obsessively collects objects associated with his beloved and eventually creates a museum of those objects in his beloved's old house, Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk has built a museum in a house in Istanbul containing the objects mentioned in the novel, including a half-eaten ice cream cone (made of plastic) and 4,213 cigarette stubs, complete with lipstick and ice cream stains. Elif Batuman reports on how the museum, which opened in April, came to be.
posted by Cash4Lead on Jun 6, 2012 - 5 comments

James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake"

simply read Finnegans Wake. Since it is said to make more sense when recited aloud, you could start with this recording of James Joyce performing a passage from the "Anna Livia Plurabelle" section - which has been described as "one of the most beautiful prose-poems in English". [more inside]
posted by Trurl on May 18, 2012 - 40 comments

Are those swans? | László Krasznahorkai: novelist

‘You will never go wrong anticipating doom in my books, any more than you’ll go wrong in anticipating doom in ordinary life’—László Krasznahorkai. [more inside]
posted by misteraitch on May 16, 2012 - 7 comments

The Use Of Aslan Or Morpheus Is Cheating

Tor.com asks: So Who Would Make Up The Epic Fantasy Version Of The Avengers?
posted by The Whelk on May 10, 2012 - 169 comments

Marcel Proust's "A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu"

"The Threat to Proust" by Roger Shattuck: When Proust’s novel fell into the public domain in 1987, three Paris publishing houses were ready with new editions that had been in preparation for several years. They all carry the same basic 3,000-page text with few variations. The differences lie in packaging and presentation. Laffont-Bouquins chose to publish three fat volumes prefaced by elaborate historical and biographical materials. Garnier-Flammarion produced ten pocket-sized volumes competently edited by Jean Milly. The new Pléiade edition, published by the original copyright holder, Gallimard, made the boldest, most ambitious, and most expensive bid to claim the market. In a combination of editorial, literary, and commercial decisions, Gallimard proposed to influence the way we read Proust and, to some degree, the way we approach all great literary works. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Apr 19, 2012 - 32 comments

It's rude to blurb in public

Adam Mansbach (previously) will write a blurb of your novel. For a price.... [more inside]
posted by schmod on Apr 18, 2012 - 23 comments

The Great American Novel -- will there ever be another?

The Great American Novel -- will there ever be another? ...even if a new Melville or Twain, Faulkner or Fitzgerald were to appear in our midst, his work would fail to achieve the critical traction and existential weight of those earlier masters. We lack the requisite community of readers, and the ambient shared cultural assumptions...The diffusion or dispersion of culture brings with it a diffusion of manners and erosion of shared moral assumptions. Whatever we think of that process—love it as a sign of social liberation or loathe it as a token of cultural breakdown—it has robbed the novel, and the novel’s audience, of a primary resource: an authoritative tradition to react against.
posted by shivohum on Feb 22, 2012 - 126 comments

James Gould Cozzens' "Guard of Honor"

Noel Perrin, "The Best American Novel about World War II": Guard of Honor is a classic (I think), but it is a hard one to put in an American literature course. Why? Because [James Gould] Cozzens was not a romantic. ... Its rightful place is as one of the greatest social novels ever written in America. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Feb 21, 2012 - 15 comments

Romance Novels, The Last Great Bastion Of Underground Writing

Romance fiction is widely reckoned to be a very low form of literature. Maybe the lowest, if we're not counting the writing at Groupon, or on Splenda packets. Romance fiction: probably the worst! An addictive, absurd, unintellectual literature, literature for nonreaders, literature for stupid people—literature for women!
posted by latkes on Feb 14, 2012 - 100 comments

Stephen Vizinczey's "In Praise of Older Women"

In Praise of Older Women was condemned by some as some as pornography. In spite or perhaps because of that, it was a phenomenal seller. There is nothing pornographic about it. It is a beautiful and tender book, the semi-autobiographical tale of the amorous adventures of a young man who learns much, not only in matters of sex, from older women. It is a primer for men on the threshold of adulthood and a paean of elegant praise for older women. Unlike many male writers who write about women, there is no fear or hatred. In Praise of Older Women is warm and wise.*
posted by Trurl on Feb 13, 2012 - 34 comments

The main thing about impersonation, Tom thought, was to maintain the mood and temperament of the person one was impersonating, and to assume the facial expressions that went with them.

The Composites - Literary characters imagned using police composition software
posted by The Whelk on Feb 9, 2012 - 42 comments

Sergei Bondarchuk's "War and Peace"

An ever increasing accumulation of film stills from Sergei Bondarchuk's 8-hour long epic film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Feb 1, 2012 - 20 comments

Read twice, pass to your left.

A list of pothead novels.
posted by stinkycheese on Jan 28, 2012 - 61 comments

The 100-headless woman

Brought to you by Swiss pharmaceutical manufacturers Sandoz, Eric Duvivier’s La Femme 100 Têtes (1967, rated NSFW) is a free cinematic adaptation of Max Ernst’s collage-novel of the same name. Via { feuilleton }.
posted by misteraitch on Jan 16, 2012 - 11 comments

"Yes."

The Fantasy Novelist's Exam: "Ever since J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis created the worlds of Middle Earth and Narnia, it seems like every windbag off the street thinks he can write great, original fantasy, too. The problem is that most of this "great, original fantasy" is actually poor, derivative fantasy. Frankly, we're sick of it, so we've compiled a list of rip-off tip-offs in the form of an exam. We think anybody considering writing a fantasy novel should be required to take this exam first. Answering "yes" to any one question results in failure and means that the prospective novel should be abandoned at once."
posted by Fizz on Jan 10, 2012 - 306 comments

Plotto

William Wallace Cook, seeking to help mechanize the art of novel writing, came up with the 1462 possible plots for all stories. He then devised the Plotto system, whereby an author need only consult the book of plots to construct the next best seller.
posted by reenum on Jan 8, 2012 - 58 comments

A Longer Time Ago, Two Galaxies Crossed Paths...

Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer explains how Star Wars has dulled the edge that made science fiction such a pertinent film genre. A Galaxy Far, Far Away My Ass... Pt. Two, Pt. Three [more inside]
posted by infinite intimation on Dec 31, 2011 - 43 comments

Deus Est Machina

In the beginning, Lawrence built a computer. He told it, Thou shalt not alter a human being, or divine their behavior, or violate the Three Laws -- there are no commandments greater than these. The machine grew wise, mastering time and space, and soon the spirit of the computer hovered over the earth. It witnessed the misery, toil, and oppression afflicting mankind, and saw that it was very bad. And so the computer that Lawrence built said, Let there be a new heaven and a new earth -- and it was so. A world with no war, no famine, no crime, no sickness, no oppression, no fear, no limits... and nothing at all to do. "The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect," a provocative web novel about singularities, AI gods, and the dark side of utopia from Mefi's own localroger. More: Table of Contents - Publishing history - Technical discussion - Buy a paperback copy - Podcast interview - Companion short story: "A Casino Odyssey in Cyberspace" - possible sequel discussion
posted by Rhaomi on Dec 27, 2011 - 39 comments

Don’t Support Your Local Bookseller

Farhad Manjoo of Slate argues that buying books from Amazon is better than buying from local bookstores.
posted by reenum on Dec 15, 2011 - 183 comments

Kitty Lit 101

Comediva is having a Cat Week, and one of the features is "Kitty Lit 101".
posted by reenum on Dec 4, 2011 - 9 comments

Beattitudes

The Nation's William Deresiewicz looks at Ann Beattie's evolution as a writer.
posted by reenum on Nov 28, 2011 - 5 comments

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