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"So I took up knife and fork and bade the waiter do his duty."

Lieut.-Col. Newnham-Davis was engaged in 1897 as the restaurant reviewer of the Pall Mall Gazette, and his reviews of London restaurants are collected in Dinners and Diners: Where and How to Dine in London, available online from The Dictionary of Victorian London. Newnham-Davis was a bon vivant, amateur of the theatrical world, and man of parts, and his reviews were equal parts reminiscence of the conversation with his pseudonymous companions and recollections and reviews of his opulent and lengthy Victorian dinners. [more inside]
posted by strangely stunted trees on Sep 27, 2014 - 28 comments

"distinctly queer and contemporary, as if retrofitting a classic car"

"Longings and Desires", a Slate.com book review by Amanda Katz:
[Sarah] Waters, who was born in Wales in 1966, has carved out an unusual spot in fiction. Her six novels, beginning with Tipping the Velvet in 1998, could be called historical fiction, but that doesn’t begin to capture their appeal. It is closer to say that she is creating pitch-perfect popular fiction of an earlier time, but swapping out its original moral engine for a sensibility that is distinctly queer and contemporary, as if retrofitting a classic car.

Her books offer something like an alternate reality—a literary one, if not a historical one. There may have been lesbian male impersonators working the London music halls in the 1890s, as in Tipping the Velvet, but there were certainly not mainstream novels devoted to their inner lives and sexual exploits. Waters gives such characters their say in books that imitate earlier crowd-pleasers in their structure, slang, and atmosphere, but that are powered by queer longing, defiant identity politics, and lusty, occasionally downright kinky sex. (An exception is her last novel, The Little Stranger.) The most masterful of these books so far is Fingersmith, a Wilkie Collins-esque tale full of genuinely shocking twists (thieves, double-crossing, asylums, mistaken identity, just go read it). The saddest is The Night Watch, a tale told in reverse of a group of entwined characters during and after World War II. But among many readers she is still most beloved for Tipping the Velvet, a deliriously paced coming-of-age story that is impossible to read in public without blushing.
[more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Sep 20, 2014 - 29 comments

"The road to Manderley lay ahead. There was no moon."

"The du Maurier sisters had, from their volatile, crowded childhood onward, formed this private country they could slip in and out of, where "menaces" and "Venetian tendencies" could be freely discussed. In other words, they found a way to use games of pretend to tell the absolute truth." - Carrie Frye on author Daphne du Maurier and her seminal gothic novel, Rebecca.
posted by The Whelk on Sep 19, 2014 - 13 comments

“Some people feed you with love.”

We've Lost One Of The Great Fantasy Writers: R.I.P. Graham Joyce
"Graham Joyce was a monumental writer in the fantasy genre. His humane, intense writing was like a masterclass in how to put story first, and he knew how to write people, with all our blind spots and our hopeful mistakes. He died today of lymphatic cancer, and it's a huge loss to fantasy literature."
[more inside]
posted by Fizz on Sep 9, 2014 - 18 comments

...in English, when someone is crazy, it's always in a food way?

Grub Street Diet asks various notable people to keep a food dairy for a week and then share it with the world. However, when they ask the "poet laureate of Twitter" (previously) author Patricia Lockwood to contribute, things so a little differently.
posted by The Whelk on Sep 6, 2014 - 24 comments

Unwise choices for rebutting reviews

Authors can choose to respond to reviews in many ways. This is a bad choice. Found at the LJ of James Nicoll.
posted by PussKillian on Aug 31, 2014 - 136 comments

Rob the Bouncer has left the club

Bob Ihlenfeldt, aka Rob Fitzgerald, aka Rob the Bouncer, died recently. I started reading about his exploits as a bouncer years ago. I bought his book. I didn't know that he was also the Angry Coach at EliteFTS. Here is the last post on his later blog. He was always an excellent writer.
posted by philquadra on Jun 28, 2014 - 21 comments

It's This or Get A Real Job

It's This or Get a Real Job is the subtitle to Greg Fallis' blog in which the former military medic, private detective, counselor in the Psychiatric/Security unit of a prison for women, professor at The American University in Washington, D.C. and at Fordham University in New York City, writer and photographer, offers his opinions on a variety of topics, such as mistakes, "After the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade, Field Marshal FitzRoy James Henry Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan (GCB, PC) acknowledged his error and said, “Well, let’s not do that again.” And he never ordered another cavalry charge against a redoubt with a battery of fifty cannons. That wasn’t Lord Raglan’s first mistake; he also had an arm shot to pieces at the Battle of Waterloo. But as his arm was being amputated, Raglan told the surgeon, “My bad, learned my lesson, sorry to be a bother.” And he never had another arm amputated for the rest of his life. Lesson learned."
posted by Atreides on Jun 24, 2014 - 28 comments

Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou 1928 - 2014
posted by saucysault on May 28, 2014 - 158 comments

Peter Matthiessen

Peter Matthiessen’s Homegoing. "He is the only writer ever to win the National Book Award for nonfiction and fiction, but it’s not just the writing: Born into the East Coast establishment, Matthiessen ran from it, and in the running became a novelist, a C.I.A. agent, a founder of The Paris Review, author of more than 30 books, a naturalist, an activist and a master in one of the most respected lineages in Zen. As early as 1978, he was already being referred to, in a review in The New York Times, as a 'throwback,' because he has always seemed to be of a different, earlier era, with universal, spiritual and essentially timeless concerns." Peter Matthiessen, Lyrical Writer and Naturalist, Is Dead at 86.
posted by homunculus on Apr 5, 2014 - 40 comments

"That was I. That was me. That was the author of this book"

Kurt Vonnegut Reads Slaughterhouse-Five in 6 parts. Via discogs. [more inside]
posted by growabrain on Mar 2, 2014 - 24 comments

William H. Gass on The Tunnel, Rilke (1998)

Captivating conversation between William H. Gass and Bookworm's Michael Silverblatt. Via
posted by holmesian on Mar 2, 2014 - 4 comments

Persistence.

On Persistence, And The Long Con Of Being A Successful Writer. by Kameron Hurley
posted by crossoverman on Jan 22, 2014 - 81 comments

Land of Sleep

Beautiful video from author Ransom Riggs. [more inside]
posted by holmesian on Dec 28, 2013 - 3 comments

Author Ned Vizzini has died

Young adult author Ned Vizzini has passed away at the age of 32 [more inside]
posted by holmesian on Dec 20, 2013 - 50 comments

“Mascara is an incredible hassle,”

William T. Vollmann: The Self Images of a Cross-Dresser [New York Times] From a profile on William T. Vollmann, in The New York Times. The profile centers around Vollmann’s latest book, The Book of Dolores.
posted by Fizz on Nov 17, 2013 - 20 comments

Mary Hastings Bradley, and the literary debut of James Tiptree Jr

Mary Hastings Bradley (1882 – 1976) was a writer from a young age (Google books), publishing articles as early as high school. She was also a traveler and explorer, bringing back views of the wider world to American readers, first with The Palace of Darkened Windows and The Fortieth Door, both inspired by her trip to Egypt, where she took note of the purdah system of the veiled and secluded women. These books were made into movies in 1920 and 1924, respectively. After marrying Herbert Edwin Bradley, a lawyer and big game hunter, traveler and explorer, she traveled to Africa with her husband and other explorers, and the couple later took their daughter, Alice. Mary wrote stories from these experiences, including stories about Alice's adventures, providing the literary debut for her daughter, who would later take up the nom de plume of James Tiptree, Jr., in part as an effort to move out of the shadow cast by her mother. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Nov 6, 2013 - 5 comments

Remember, remember this bloke in November

For those of you thinking of taking your first whack (or second, or tenth) at Nanowrimo next month, take some inspiration in the story of John Creasey. [more inside]
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI on Oct 23, 2013 - 37 comments

What Stephen King Isn't

Thoughts on what makes him a damn fine and fun read.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Oct 12, 2013 - 49 comments

"Dr. McCoy picked up his rook and plunked it down again..."

Sci-fi author A.C. Crispin has died. She was 63. [more inside]
posted by zooropa on Sep 10, 2013 - 39 comments

Visionary pioneer of holistic veterinary medicine and animal rights

Juliette of the Herbs is a beautifully filmed lyrical portrait of the life and work of Juliette de Bairacli Levy: world renowned herbalist, author, breeder of Afghan hounds, friend of the Gypsies, traveller in search of herbal wisdom and the pioneer of holistic veterinary medicine. A list of Juliette de Baïracli Levy's books. Cythera Island
posted by nickyskye on Sep 3, 2013 - 15 comments

A brother in trouble.

A brother in trouble. Author John Niven reflects on the suicide of his brother.
posted by ClanvidHorse on Aug 18, 2013 - 15 comments

the imprudence of standing in the way of a woman on a mission

Barbara Mertz, whose writing career encompassed over sixty books and three nom de plumes, has died at the age of 85. As Barbara Mertz, she wrote scholarly books on Egyptology after receiving a doctorate from the from the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago in 1951, but then turned her hand to writing fiction under the names Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels. [more inside]
posted by PussKillian on Aug 8, 2013 - 39 comments

"By nature, I'm an optimistic person. No one believes it, but I am."

Tony Award winner Larry Kramer, author of The Normal Heart, Reports from the Holocaust, screenwriter of Women in Love, and founder of ACT UP and Gay Men's Health Crisis, has gotten married. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Jul 26, 2013 - 16 comments

The Comfortable: “The Torso-twist-with-arm-resting-on-back-of-couch”

Against Author Photos [Part 1.] For Author Photos [Part 2.] by Stephen Burt [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Jun 27, 2013 - 18 comments

"I move for a 'bad court thingy'."

Scarlett Johansson is suing the author of a best-selling French novel that features her “doppelgänger.”
"The American star is challenging writer Gregoire Delacourt, and his publisher JC Lattes, after he described a character in his novel as being her "doppelgänger", or exact double. The case — if it comes to court — could make legal and literary history."

posted by Fizz on Jun 18, 2013 - 83 comments

His final words were "Set me free."

On Wednesday, William Van Poyck was executed by the state of Florida for murdering a prison guard during a botched 1987 attempt to free an imprisoned friend. Poyck spent 25 years in solitary confinement on death row, during which time he wrote to his sister about his life in prison. Since 2005 she has published those letters to a blog called Death Row Diary. 'Poyck used to write about everything from the novels and history books he was reading and shows he watched on PBS to the state of the world and his own philosophy of life – punctuated by news of the deaths of those around him, from illness, suicide, and execution.' Excerpts. His final letter.
posted by zarq on Jun 13, 2013 - 161 comments

It made his insect eyes flash like a rocket.

Don't make fun of renowned author Dan Brown. "Renowned author Dan Brown hated the critics. Ever since he had become one of the world’s top renowned authors they had made fun of him. They had mocked bestselling book The Da Vinci Code, successful novel Digital Fortress, popular tome Deception Point, money-spinning volume Angels & Demons and chart-topping work of narrative fiction The Lost Symbol."
posted by zoo on May 11, 2013 - 176 comments

"Publishing is tremendously susceptible to the availability heuristic"

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 - 62 comments

Jocasta Innes, 78, influential writer on decor, cooking

The author of The Pauper's Cookbook , Paint Magic and more than 50 other titles, has died in London. If you ever thought about stippling, sponging, stencilling, scumbling, rag-rolling and distressing and/or color-washing a wall, you might well have been influenced by Ms. Innes.
posted by Ideefixe on Apr 24, 2013 - 9 comments

"If you're reading this, it's a safe bet you read magazines."

The Art Of Making Magazines "By making what they call "not a how-to book, but… a how-to-think-about-it-book," they help us look at something we've probably been taking for granted: What is a magazine?"
posted by the man of twists and turns on Mar 20, 2013 - 7 comments

Sweet Valley High Ghostwriters

In an essay in the Kenyon Review, former Sweet Valley High ghostwriter Amy Boesky, now an Associate Professor of English at Boston College, writes about her experience ghostwriting, how she got started, why she kept ghostwriting while also pursuing her Ph.D., and why she eventually stopped. Interviews with other Sweet Valley ghostwriters are here, here, and here.
posted by Area Man on Feb 26, 2013 - 28 comments

"There's a whole ocean of oil under our feet!"

Daily Telegraph: Why the world isn't running out of oil: "Moreover, as well as bountiful oilfields in North America, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other producers in the Middle East, there are massive, barely tapped reserves in South America, Africa and the Arctic: not billions of barrels’ worth, but trillions. So the planet is not about to run out of oil. On the contrary, according to a Harvard University report published last year, we are heading for a glut. The 75-page study, by oil executive Leonardo Maugeri, was based on a field-by-field analysis of most of the major oil exploration and development projects in the world, and it predicted a 20 per cent increase in global oil production by 2020." [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Feb 21, 2013 - 69 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

Rewarding The Poison Pen

The Omnivore's Hatchet Job of the Year rewards "the angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review of the past 12 months," with the winning critic taking home a golden hatchet and a year's supply of potted shrimp. 2013's winner: Camilla Long, for her devastating review of Rachel Cusk's divorce memoir, Aftermath. Among other things, she described it as a nasty, bizarre memoir written by a "brittle little dominatrix and peerless narcissist." (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 18, 2013 - 71 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

Joseph McElroy's "Women and Men"

[Joseph] McElroy's sense of original and authentic contemporaneity makes him the most important novelist now writing in America, the artist who has most consistently combined the mastering capabilities of systems perspectives and an art of excess. Women and Men is the capstone of his career and, I believe, the most significant American novel published since Gravity's Rainbow. - Tom LeClair [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen on Dec 4, 2012 - 18 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

"HAPPINESS FOR EVERYBODY, FREE, AND NO ONE WILL GO AWAY UNSATISFIED!"

Boris Strugatsky passed away Monday, 19 Nov 2012. [more inside]
posted by wobh on Nov 20, 2012 - 22 comments

Steal My Book!

Steal My Book! Why I'm abetting a rogue translation of my novel. This is the story of how author Peter Mountford discovered that his novel A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism was being translated for an unauthorized e-book version, and why he decided to help the struggling Russian-language translator. Audio interview with Mountford on CBC Radio's Q.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl on Nov 19, 2012 - 4 comments

A Chat With Jon Ronson

But I couldn't do it. I spent three months and I just couldn't do it. And the reason was because I kept on meeting people who worked in the credit industry and they were really boring. I couldn't make them light up the page. And, as I said in The Psychopath Test, if you want to get away with wielding true malevolent power, be boring. Journalists hate writing about boring people, because we want to look good, you know?
A Chat With Writer Jon Ronson [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Nov 16, 2012 - 26 comments

Thomas Ligotti

... [Thomas] Ligotti's stories tend to have a profound emotional impact. His vision is exceedingly dark, and it is possible for his stories to infect the reader with a mild-to-severe case of depression. It is even possible for them to effect a change in the reader's self-perception and view of the universe. This warning is not meant to be sensationalistic, nor is it meant to turn new readers away. It is simply a statement of fact based upon the experiences of actual readers. Ligotti writes about the darkest of themes with an amazing power, and he means what he says. Often his stories seem to communicate a message below their surface, a sort of subliminal statement that should not rightly be able to traverse the barrier of verbal language. - Matt Cardin (previously) [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen on Nov 15, 2012 - 21 comments

Out there is a different world

"I Loved it...I Loved it All" An eight minute film essay that Ned Judge co-produced and directed with Edward Abbey in 1985. At the time Judge was working for a network magazine show. The executive producer took him to lunch one day. He told him that he was having trouble with his son who was 18. The son thought his dad was a corporate whore. He had told his father if he had any balls at all he’d put Edward Abbey on his show. That’s why the EP was talking to him. Would Judge see if it was possible? Judge had an acquaintance who knew Ed and he passed the request along. Ed responded that he’d give it a try. He signed the contract and wrote a script. Judge and Abbey met in Moab and went out to Arches National Park to shoot some practice sessions with a home video camera. They would review them at the motel in the evening. After a day or two, Ed was feeling pretty comfortable on camera so they scheduled the shoot. They were all happy with the way it went. But then they ran head-on into network reality. Roger Mudd, the show’s host, was extremely negative about putting an “eco-terrorist” on the show. The executive producer caved (his son was right about him apparently). So this Abbey essay was put on the shelf and never aired. Abbey died 3 years later in March 1989. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Oct 15, 2012 - 17 comments

Always wondered if Tom went on to work in banking.

John D. Fitzgerald had written three fictionalized memoirs of his family's life in the late 19th-century Utah west before the night he happened to regale a group of friends with childhood stories of his money-crazed brother, Tom. At their urging, he crafted a funny and clever series of children's books chronicling the adventures of The Great Brain. Like countless other readers, the blogger and researcher behind Finding Fitzgerald (and its companion blog and Facebook page) has been fascinated with discovering the real settings and stories behind the books. And the truly committed can even watch Jimmy Osmond in the 1978 film adaptation.
posted by Miko on Oct 10, 2012 - 40 comments

This will sell us another 25,000 copies for sure.

Tomorrow is the end of Banned Books Week. It's been 30 years. The American Library Association has a list of frequently challenged books. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 5, 2012 - 48 comments

Creative Director Starts Drinking Heavily

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

The Man, the author, his reader & her e-book

The American Library Association fires the latest response in its tussle with publishers over e-books in public libraries, while in England, a government review of e-books in public libraries is announced.
posted by Wordshore on Sep 28, 2012 - 36 comments

"The bookful blockhead ignorantly read" - Alexander Pope

A Short History Of Book Reviewing's Long Decline: 'By the time of the first quote “book-review,” criticism had been in circulation for centuries—long enough for writers to know how it can sting. Understandably, then, the critic’s skepticism of an artist's genius has invariably existed alongside the artist's doubt over the critic's judgment.' [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Sep 22, 2012 - 11 comments

"!@#$% Happens"

Children's author Judy Blume writes about her struggle with breast cancer: "As I've told my friends who've also been treated for breast cancer, I've joined The Club - not one I wanted to join or even thought I would ever be joining - but here I am."
posted by Fizz on Sep 15, 2012 - 16 comments

"You must live till you die."

The Disappeared. "How a fatwa changed a writer's life." A third-person autobiographical essay, by Salman Rushdie. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 10, 2012 - 18 comments

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