Describing Dame Muriel Spark's oeuvre as "a body of work singular in its violence, formal inventiveness, and scorching opening lines," Parul Sehgal's What Muriel Spark Saw
examines the enduring appeal and the mystery of Spark's fiction, particularly the "monstruous" women: "What hash Spark's characters make of those eternal debates over unlikable characters or unlikable women." [more inside]
posted by mixedmetaphors
on Jul 1, 2014 -
The drama issues from the assailability of vital, tenacious men with their share of peculiarities who are neither mired in weakness nor made of stone and who, almost inevitably, are bowed by blurred moral vision, real and imaginary culpability, conflicting allegiances, urgent desires, uncontrollable longings, unworkable love, the culprit passion, the erotic trance, rage, self-division, betrayal, drastic loss, vestiges of innocence, fits of bitterness, lunatic entanglements, consequential misjudgment, understanding overwhelmed, protracted pain, false accusation, unremitting strife, illness, exhaustion, estrangement, derangement, aging, dying and, repeatedly, inescapable harm, the rude touch of the terrible surprise — unshrinking men stunned by the life one is defenseless against, including especially history: the unforeseen that is constantly recurring as the current moment. Philip Roth on his life as a writer
posted by shivohum
on Mar 4, 2014 -
In February 1963
, a new publication
took advantage of the New York City printers strike and launched with a daring editorial
: It does not, however, seek merely to fill the gap created by the printers’ strike in New York City but to take the opportunity which the strike has presented to publish the sort of literary journal which the editors and contributors feel is needed in America.
The New York Review of Books
is now 50
. [more inside]
posted by mattbucher
on Oct 21, 2013 -
, Joyce's famously unreadable masterpiece (read it online here
), was considerably more
readable in one of its earlier drafts.
Watch Joyce cross out decipherable words and replace them with less decipherable ones! Watch him end, not with a whimper, but with a slightly less impressive whimper
! Sadly, Shem's schoolbook
, which in the finished version is a House of Leaves
-esque compendium of side columns and footnotes, was not written until much later
(according to the footnotes of that section). The introduction to this draft by David Hayman, who assembled it, is worth a read
posted by Rory Marinich
on May 20, 2013 -
Claire Messud: “A woman’s rant” [National Post]
"Over the last week, discussion surrounding Claire Messud’s new novel, The Woman Upstairs, has shifted from the book to an interview
its author recently gave to Publishers Weekly, in which Messud took issue with the following question: “I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you? Her outlook is almost unbearably grim.” [more inside]
posted by Fizz
on May 10, 2013 -
What Is the Business of Literature?
Publishing is a word that, like the book, is almost but not quite a proxy for the “business of literature.” Current accounts of publishing have the industry about as imperiled as the book, and the presumption is that if we lose publishing, we lose good books. Yet what we have right now is a system that produces great literature in spite of itself. We have come to believe that the taste-making, genius-discerning editorial activity attached to the selection, packaging, printing, and distribution of books to retailers is central to the value of literature. We believe it protects us from the shameful indulgence of too many books by insisting on a rigorous, abstemious diet. Critiques of publishing often focus on its corporate or capitalist nature, arguing that the profit motive retards decisions that would otherwise be based on pure literary merit. But capitalism per se and the market forces that both animate and pre-suppose it aren’t the problem. They are, in fact, what brought literature and the author into being. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Apr 27, 2013 -
Happy Thomas Pynchon rumor day! [LAtimes.com]
"What's that, you say? America's most reclusive author, Thomas Pynchon, appeared in the news Friday -- not once but twice? Why, yes, yes, he has, surfacing in two unconnected rumours. Conspiracy? Pynchonian? Maybe we should henceforth designate Jan. 4 as Thomas Pynchon Rumor Day." [more inside]
posted by Fizz
on Jan 5, 2013 -
Just when you thought it was safe to open a book... it's the Literary Review's annual Bad Sex Award
) This year's nominees include works by Tom Wolfe
, Ben Masters
, Nicola Barker
, Paul Mason
, Nancy Huston
, Craig Raine
, Nicholas Coleridge
, and Sam Mills
. Not on the list? J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy
--despite "a couple of queasy moments," in the words
of TLR senior editor Jonathan Beckman--and E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey, since the award "is not intended to cover pornographic or expressly erotic literature." Snippets from the nominated books can be found at the Guardian link.
posted by Cash4Lead
on Nov 21, 2012 -
Steven Pinker is apparently writing a science/academic writing style guide of sorts based on insights from psychology. Here is an hour-plus long video
of Pinker discussing the book at MIT.
posted by AceRock
on Nov 21, 2012 -
What I wrote was unquestionably fiction — was fantasy. Among Others has magic and fairies. But I was writing fantasy about a science fiction reader who had a lot of the same things happen to her that happened to me. It’s set at the end of 1979 and the beginning of 1980, and it’s about a fifteen year old just when I was fifteen, and from a family like mine and in the time and place and context where I was. I was using a lot of my own experience and memories. But this is Mori, not me, and she lives in a world where magic is real.
Jo Walton, who as editor for tor.com revisisted the Hugos 1953-2000
, now has one of her own, taking home the 2012 Best Novel Award
for Among Others
. Other winners include Kij Johnson
for her Novella The Man who Bridged the Mist
(excerpt) and io9 regular Charlie Jane Anders
for her novellete Six Months, Three Days
. The Best Graphic Story award went to the webcomic Digger
by Ursula Vernon
. E Lily Yu took home the Bets New Writer award (technically not a Hugo) and was also nominated for her short story The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees
. A couple of TV shows you have heard of also got awards. Links to many of the nominated stories here
posted by Artw
on Sep 3, 2012 -
Cynthia Ozick on Henry James: The Lesson of the Master: ...in earlier days I felt I had been betrayed by Henry James. I was like the youthful writer in “The Lesson of the Master” who believed in the Master’s call to live immaculately, unspoiled by what we mean when we say “life”—relationship, family mess, distraction, exhaustion, anxiety, above all disappointment.
posted by shivohum
on Aug 21, 2012 -
“[...] it took more than a dozen calls to work out the details of her zombie contagion. “After about the 17th time,” says McGuire, “I called and said, ‘If I did this, this, this, this, this, this and this, could I raise the dead?’ And got, ‘Don’t … don’t do that.’ And at that point, I knew I had a viable virus
posted by batmonkey
on Jun 27, 2012 -
In reflecting on the project, McAllister feels “caught between the intimacy of each individual response, and the pattern of the cumulative replies.” The question remains: Why did they answer? McAllister claims no credit, describing his survey form as “barely literate.” He recalls that in his cover letter (no examples of which exist) he misused the word precocious—he meant presumptuous—and in hindsight he sees that he was both, though few writers seemed to mind. “The conclusion I came to was that nobody had asked them. New Criticism was about the scholars and the text; writers were cut out of the equation. Scholars would talk about symbolism in writing, but no one had asked the writers.” Sixteen year old boy dislikes English homework, goes outside the chain of command.
posted by villanelles at dawn
on Dec 5, 2011 -
In which "the author tries—and fails—to cash in on a big idea"
. Warning: skippable full-screen ad alert. Behind it is an article in the Atlantic (the magazine, not the ocean). Of possible interest to fans and critics of the popular science genre of books, Wikipedians, and underdog/failure sympathisers.
posted by nthdegx
on Nov 18, 2011 -
British Fantasy Award winner returns prize; Sam Stone hands back award after criticism of judging process. [The Guardian]
"Controversy has riven the 40-year-old British Fantasy Awards, with the winner of the best novel prize handing her award back just three days after it was bestowed.
But the organisation and presentation of the awards has been drawing criticism since then, culminating in Sam Stone, the winner of the best novel award – named after American writer and editor August Derleth – announcing yesterday that she is giving it back.
The biggest attack on the awards was delivered by editor and anthologist Stephen Jones, who on Tuesday posted a lengthy blog
decrying the organisation of the BFAs and making several allegations against awards co-ordinator and British Fantasy Society chairman David Howe."
posted by Fizz
on Oct 6, 2011 -
Enclyclopedia Brown is a children's fiction series written by Donald J. Sobol since 1963 and still very popular today. These are the 10 most ridiculously difficult mysteries
in the series and baffling as to how a child is supposed to be able to solve them.
posted by rozomon
on Aug 30, 2011 -