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]
"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.
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]
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.
Authors can choose to respond to reviews in many ways. This is a bad choice.
Found at the LJ of James Nicoll.
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.
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."
“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
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
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
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
, 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]
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]
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
A brother in trouble.
Author John Niven
reflects on the suicide of his brother.
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]
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."
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.
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."
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]
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.
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?"
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
, and here
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]
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?"
'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]
[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]
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]
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.
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]
... [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]
"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]
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
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
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]
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."
"How a fatwa changed a writer's life." A third-person autobiographical essay, by Salman Rushdie. [more inside]