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"That wasn't any act of God. That was an act of pure human fuckery."

Things That Don't Suck, Some Notes on The Stand
I recently reread The Stand for no particular reason other than I felt like it. I'm honestly not sure how many time[s] I've read it at this point, more than three, less than a half dozen (though I can clearly remember my first visit to that horrifyingly stripped bare world as I can remember the first reading of all the truly great King stories). It's not my favorite of King's work, but it is arguably his most richly and completely imagined. It truly is the American Lord of The Rings, with the concerns of England (Pastorialism vs. Industrialism, Germany's tendency to try and blow it up every thirty years or so) replaced by those of America (Religion, the omnipresent struggle between our liberal and libertarian ideals, our fear of and dependence on the military, racial and gender tension) and given harrowing size.

I'm happy to say that The Stand holds up well past the bounds of nostalgia and revisiting the world and these characters was as pleasurable as ever. But you can't step in the same river twice, even when you're revisiting a favorite book. Even if the river hasn't changed you have. This isn't meant as any kind of comprehensive essay on The Stand. Just a couple of things I noticed upon dipping my toes in the river this time.

[Spoiler alert: assume everything, from the link above to those below, contains SPOILERS.] [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Aug 19, 2014 - 155 comments

Amazon vs. Hachette, an Epic Battle Faught with Letters and Addresses

Best Selling author Douglas Preston, along with 907 other authors, signed a letter that ran as a double full-page ad in yesterday’s print edition of the New York Times, asking Amazon to stop blocking or delaying the sale of books on their site as a tactic to lower the e-book prices that Amazon is charged by the publisher Hachette.* The three month dispute between Hachette and Amazon previously prompted a response by Amazon’s self-published authors and readers, but it took an odd turn Saturday night when Amazon posted this letter on a site called ReadersUnited.com, after sending it as an email to all of its Kindle Direct Publishing authors. In that letter they include Hachette’s CEO’s email, and have asked their KDP authors to write to Hachette’s CEO telling him what they think about cheaper ebooks. [more inside]
posted by Toekneesan on Aug 11, 2014 - 146 comments

Trans Women's Lit

Trans women writers Jeanne Thornton, Imogen Binnie, Red Durkin and Casey Plett read from their recent works for Talks at Google. [more inside]
posted by emmtee on Jul 6, 2014 - 11 comments

Thanks to Paul F. Tompkins, for no particular reason.

The Dead Authors Podcast: Legendary time-traveling writer H.G. Wells (Paul F. Tompkins) welcomes literary giants to The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles for a lively discussion in front of a live audience. Unscripted, barely researched, all fun! [more inside]
posted by Room 641-A on Nov 2, 2013 - 23 comments

Monkey. Plane ticket. Dictionary. Go!

The Pen is Mightier than The Diving Elbow Drop Lucha Libre is Mexico's answer to wrestling. Fighters put on masks an duke it out in the ring. In Peru they have Lucha Libro where aspiring authors put on masks go on stage where they are given 3 random words with which they are given 5 minutes to write a short story. The loser has to take off his mask. The winner goes onto another round. The grand prize winner receives a book contract.
posted by 2manyusernames on Oct 5, 2013 - 22 comments

Sometimes it's lovely to be read a bedtime story, even as an adult.

A wonderful, generous and free selection of authors, collections and books online at Lit2Go for awake times or drowsy ones. The Count of Monte Cristo from the Adventure collection | or perhaps a Just So Story from the Fantasy collection | Beowolf from the Here Be Dragons! collection | Aladdin from Andrew Lang's Fairy Books of Many Colors or The Heart of Happy Hollow from the African American collection. Also practical for children. Previously. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Aug 5, 2013 - 9 comments

“I never attacked anyone weak."

Cult writer Renata Adler, whose novel Speedboat has been reissued by NYRB Classics, sits down for an interview with The Believer. [more inside]
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Mar 29, 2013 - 6 comments

BBC Radio 4 Book Club: 179 episodes now available online

Book Club. This 30-minute programme's been on Radio 4, the BBC's premier speech radio station, since 1998. Books are announced a month in advance, giving listeners a chance to read the chosen title before the discussion. James Naughtie then interviews the book's author about it in front of an audience of his (or her) readers, who also put questions of their own. My favourites from the programme's archive include Alan Bennet (Writing Home), Clive James (Unreliable Memoirs), Douglas Adams (a 1 hour special on Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), Elmore Leonard (Rum Punch), James Ellroy (Black Dahlia), PJ O'Rourke (Holidays in Hell) and Stephen Fry (The Hippopotamus). No doubt you'll have your own. [more inside]
posted by Paul Slade on Feb 12, 2013 - 8 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

The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books

The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books catalogs the top ten favorite books of over 140 major authors and growing, including Louis D. Rubin, Jim Harrison, David Foster Wallace, David Leavitt, Paul Auster, Michael Chabon, and many more. Here's the list of books rank-ordered by frequency and here are other lists compiled from the statistics.
posted by shivohum on Jul 28, 2012 - 40 comments

Author interviews

"Book TV's After Words features the author of a recently published hardback non-fiction book interviewed by a guest host with some knowledge, background, or connection to the subject matter of the book." There's also a podcast version (link goes to XML feed), for those who'd rather listen. Many more non-fiction author interviews can be found at Booknotes (transcripts and streaming video). If your tastes run to interviews with authors of fiction, check out the BBC's Modern Writers archive. (BookTV (but not specifically After Words) previously, Booknotes (but before the series ended) previously.)
posted by cog_nate on Jun 22, 2012 - 7 comments

Smart Authors and Designers Discuss Their Covers

Talking Covers: authors and designers talk about the ideas behind their book covers. [more inside]
posted by mattbucher on Jun 13, 2012 - 9 comments

What becomes a legend most?

In 1929, John Galsworthy won a Guardian poll as the novelist most likely to still be read in 2029. Three years later, he won the Nobel Prize, and the prices of his first editions skyrocketed. His reputation has since been on a 80-year wane that shows no signs of abating. The New Yorker asks Why is Literary Fame So Unpredictable? And who will they be teaching in literature class a century from now?
posted by Horace Rumpole on May 22, 2012 - 65 comments

"...for the next tour, I’ll either be calm and collected or nervous with a dangerously out-of-control boner."

The Awl: Nine Writers and Publicists Tell All About Readings and Book Tours
posted by zarq on Apr 12, 2012 - 18 comments

"I’m curious about what will happen next."

"I always knew that Sugar was Cheryl, and that the anonymity was just a temporary experience, and it wasn’t going to be really who Sugar was in the end. I revealed myself to you. I only withheld one piece of pretty meaningless information: my name. But I showed myself to you." Dear Sugar of The Rumpus is revealed to be author Cheryl Strayed. [more inside]
posted by mokin on Feb 15, 2012 - 17 comments

Read twice, pass to your left.

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

Tales for Little Rebels

Was your favorite childhood book written by a radical lefty? Scholars reveal the socialist history of 20th century American children's literature. Discover the myriad connections between midcentury American socialism and Crockett Johnson (Harold and the Purple Crayon), Syd Hoff (Danny and the Dinosaur), and the authors of many of the Little Golden Books and I Can Read Books.
posted by Miko on Sep 20, 2011 - 55 comments

Bill, your beard is ridiculous.

Insulted by Authors. Book lover Bill Ryan had the clever idea to start asking his favorite authors to insult him instead of simply signing their books. (Via)
posted by shakespeherian on Mar 29, 2011 - 24 comments

Cheese sandwiches required.

The anchovies are restless. Margaret Atwood, grand dame of Canadian letters, addresses the future of publishing. [more inside]
posted by CheeseDigestsAll on Feb 22, 2011 - 44 comments

"We are already experts at lying to ourselves"

Clancy Martin is the chair of the philosophy department at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He's also an unabashed liar, a recovering alcoholic, and was once suicidal. He's surprisingly honest, and has written extensively about all three of these things. Prior to becoming a professor, he dropped out of grad school, made a small fortune in the murky world of luxury jewelry sales, and nearly became the world's leading dealer of counterfeit Fabergé eggs along the way. He occasionally writes an advice column about lying, and even wrote a few books about it. [more inside]
posted by schmod on Jan 4, 2011 - 29 comments

I [heart] Librarians

Libraries are, for many of us, the public places where we bring our most private selves, our fears and our dreams, so long buried and so studiously unspoken. The librarian checking out a stack of books may be for many of us, the equivalent of the first person we’ve told a secret to. Which brings me to the real reason I chose the profession that I did for my narrator: Even more than libraries, I love librarians.
As Others See Us: An Author On Why She Loves Librarians
posted by carsonb on Nov 24, 2010 - 30 comments

LeVar Burton never saw it coming

Modern drinking games are often crafted around movies or television, leaving dry those with literary ambitions. Now you avid readers can get in on the fun! (via) [more inside]
posted by Korou on Aug 7, 2010 - 95 comments

My pen is mightier than your pen!

The Top 10 Literary Feuds Of The Aughts, as compiled by Toronto journalist and author Shaun Smith. [more inside]
posted by The Card Cheat on Dec 21, 2009 - 52 comments

(not-so) Real Housewives of Lancaster County

A new subgenre is rising to meet the significant demand for romance novels that won't corrupt the flesh: Amish Romances. The relatively chaste romances, mostly written by non-Amish authors, the books are selling well, with Cindy Woodsnall's Sisters of the Quilt trilogy leading the pack on the New York Times bestseller list, and many new authors jumping into the game.
posted by Miko on Sep 10, 2009 - 34 comments

Let's Go To Pommeroy's And Have Toast To Rumpole

John Mortimer, creator of Rumpole of the Bailey died today.
posted by Xurando on Jan 16, 2009 - 26 comments

Yukio Mishima 14 January 1925 - 25 November 1970

"There's something very shabby about a noble grave... Political power and the power of wealth result in splendid graves. Really impressive graves, you know. Such creatures never had any imagination while they lived, and quite naturally their graves don't leave any room for imagination either. But noble people live only on the imaginations of themselves and others, and so they leave graves like this one which inevitably stir one's imagination. And this I find even more wretched. Such people, you see, are obliged even after they are dead to continue begging people to use their power of imagination." - Yukio Mishima via Kashiwagi in The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. On this, the anniversary of Mishima's transformation into a headless god, a collection of video links. [more inside]
posted by eccnineten on Nov 25, 2008 - 11 comments

In case you were wondering

Joyce explained. (via)
posted by kliuless on Nov 15, 2008 - 23 comments

Moby Dick? Middlemarch? Jane Eyre?

Humiliation: Which book are you most embarrassed to admit that you have never read? Several "respectable" authors answer the question at the Ways With Words festival. (single-link Telegraph post)
posted by fiercecupcake on Jul 28, 2008 - 260 comments

No more posts until Matt starts paying up

Home taping downloading is killing music authorship. The Society of Authors warns that authors will simply stop writing if they aren't compensated for piracy of their work (as unlikely as that seems). Perhaps they should follow the example of Jim Griffin, newly hired at Warner Music to persuade broadband providers to attach a $5 per month surcharge for the benefit of the major labels, in exchange for halting the lawsuits that have thus far been their mainstay weapon against piracy.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Apr 2, 2008 - 88 comments

Nicholson Baker on Wikipedia

Nicholson Baker, who in his book, Double Fold, argued for saving newspaper collections, explores "The Charms of Wikipedia" with insightful and hilarious results. He also has a new book, Human Smoke, coming out (excerpt)
posted by ed on Feb 29, 2008 - 25 comments

Ideas in the Air

To The Best Of Our Knowledge is one of the most wide-ranging and literate public radio shows in the US, a two-hour "radio salon" featuring leisurely exploration of weekly themes like No Smoking, Identity Crisis, Weekend, and The Mind, Music, and Math. Host Jim Fleming approaches these big ideas through the works of authors - journalists of all stripes, memoirists, poets, fiction writers, essayists. Five years' worth of shows are available on audio archives; you can also search the impressive list of authors by name, or subscribe to the podcast. [more inside]
posted by Miko on Feb 27, 2008 - 17 comments

Photographs of Authors

Pictures of writers in a thread on I Love Music. Lots and lots of pictures of lots of writers. Another thread from the same board with more pictures (some duplicates). Author photos are most often seen on dust jackets or in the back of books, a practice Frances Wilson wishes to see abolished. One famous connoisseur of pictures of writers is Javier Marías who wrote a whole book on the subject, Written Lives. Here are a few excerpts from the book: William Faulkner, Isak Dinesen (pen name of Karen Blixen) and an edited extract covering a whole lot of authors. [more inside]
posted by Kattullus on Dec 24, 2007 - 11 comments

"turn to page 69 of any book and read it. If you like that page, buy the book."

The Page 69 Test --inspired by Marshall McLuhan's suggestion to readers for choosing a novel, a new blog, inviting authors to describe what's on page 69. One says: Not the best, but not the worst. If my pages were presidents, I’d put page 69 somewhere in the James K. Polk range.
posted by amberglow on Dec 11, 2007 - 28 comments

Tax in the Age of Amazon

New York State goes after Amazon "affiliates." So if you, as a New Yorker, link to your book on Amazon, you are now an independent contractor and shall be taxed accordingly (PDF). [more inside]
posted by mattbucher on Nov 13, 2007 - 32 comments

Frankenhand is alive ... meet LongPen

LongPen from inventor (pdf) Margaret Atwood
posted by phoque on Aug 11, 2007 - 37 comments

Gotta Catch Em All!

Booktribes is a new site from the creators of writing site Abctales where bibliophiles can compile lists of every book they've ever read. Replete with a simple, intuitive interface, compiling your life's reading list becomes strangely addictive, and for the whole of March, the best comment of the day on this as-yet underpopulated site wins a copy of David Mitchell's Black Swan Green, with the best comment of the month winning the entire 21 volume Sceptre Collection. And if you're worried your reading list isn't up to scratch, don't panic - you can always cheat.
posted by RokkitNite on Mar 3, 2007 - 20 comments

(some) books are for girls

Gender differences in literary taste - The Guardian (inter alia) has been reporting two English professors' studies of reading habits and feelings about books by gender. Others (newest to oldest): most revelatory books by reader gender (for men), (for women), author gender by reader gender. The methodology may not be unassailable but the findings are interesting and plausible. [viaduct vianochicken]
Sidenote: I did a little research following a comment on MR and reached a non-obvious conclusion: women hate Akira Kurosawa (check out those charts; for comparison). Theories welcome.
posted by grobstein on Apr 10, 2006 - 36 comments

"My instincts in publishing are very much a gut reaction"

In those days, he could do no wrong. In the Sixties, he was the man who published Catch-22, Portnoy's Complaint and Hemingway's A Moveable Feast; he put John Lennon's doodles into cold print, launched the careers of John Fowles and Gabriel García Márquez, looked after Thomas Pynchon and Kurt Vonnegut and later, in the early 1980s, was the godfatherly mentor of Amis fils, Julian Barnes, Ian McEwan and Salman Rushdie. He was equally adept at commissioning inspired non-fictions such as The Naked Ape, Desmond Morris's zoological inspection of human behaviour.
The Independent profiles Tom Maschler, publisher, founder of the Booker Prize. (via Bookslut)
posted by matteo on Mar 17, 2005 - 7 comments

R.I.P. Will Eisner

Will Eisner Dies at age 86 The father of the modern Graphic Novel and hugely influential comics figure has died today from heart surgery complications. His concept of Sequential Art helped move comics out of the idea of being solely "kid's stuff" and was seen as a cannon in the comic art world. He was working on a book called "The Plot" due out later this year. He will be missed. More info and Eisner Bio at Newsarama
posted by Jeffy on Jan 4, 2005 - 54 comments

Wow! All the crusts of bread I can eat!

How much money do first-time novelists make? Author and upcoming first-time novelist Justine Larbalestier is constantly asked by aspiring writers what first-time novelists should expect in advance payment for their beloved texts. So she asked some of her author friends what they got for their first novels. The responses ranged in time from 1962 to 2004. What didn't change in all that time was the basic amount: Not much. Quoth Larbalestier: "The life of a novelist is, financially speaking, a mug's game. Enter at your own peril."
posted by jscalzi on Dec 24, 2004 - 66 comments

3 young writers achieve acclaim years after their deaths from cancer

Although cancer got these three young writers before their books were published, their now-acclaimed work -- from children's inspirational to humorous fantasy to coming of age (book and movie) -- was brought to life by the efforts of parents or a brother or friends.
posted by escorter on Dec 14, 2004 - 1 comment

Fascism in America?

Fascism in America? It Can't Happen Here is a masterful satire in which a popular, dimwitted politician rises to dictatorial power on the backs of radio evangelists, opponents of urban, yacht-owning, college professor liberalism, common people, and the Rotary Club. America is pushed into a manufactured war by all-powerful corporate interests, liberties are restricted in the name of national emergency, and all is coordinated by a behind-the-scenes political maestro sometimes called "the brain." Sound familiar? It's nothing new: the book was written by Sinclair Lewis in 1935.
posted by socratic on Nov 29, 2004 - 50 comments

Give a hoot

Enter a world where friendship is king and smiles abound. Owly is continuing graphic novel series created by Andy Runton. The series uses no words to tell the stories, instead relying solely on the art (which recalls classic cartoons), creating something fun and cute to read for pretty much any age. But don't take my word for it.
posted by drezdn on Nov 1, 2004 - 2 comments

Congratulations to Austria

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2004: Elfriede Jelinek, probably best known for the story behind Michael Haneke's La Pianiste.
posted by mr.marx on Oct 7, 2004 - 22 comments

Connolly 100 updated

100 key books “Cyril Connolly chose 100 key books from England, France and America first published between 1880 and 1950 to represent ‘The Modern Movement’.”

This site asks: “How does the list look now, in the first decade of the 21st Century?” “an additional list of key books is needed for 1950 to 2000. What should be included and why? Does Connolly's selection criteria need adjusting [just England (when so many of the books are from Ireland), France and America!] and if so how should this be done, remembering that Connolly was very precise in delineating the list as Key books, not best books?”
posted by Grod on Sep 17, 2004 - 18 comments

His books are required reading for the rest of your life

The Greatest War Protestor of All Time --Wise, hilarious, and kind words from Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. If you don't know who he is, fake it.
posted by chinese_fashion on Sep 15, 2004 - 7 comments

Critique Magazine's On Writing III

Critique Magazine's On Writing III - Each year, Critique Magazine's staff compiles essays by and interviews with writers, teachers, and translators of merit for inclusion in the special anniversary edition "On Writing".

Basically, a shitload of authors provide thoughts on, ahem, writing. {Both sites are worth a look, imo.}
posted by dobbs on Sep 15, 2004 - 18 comments

Gulp, type, gulp, type

Two Writers Drinking, Sitting Around, Talking About Stuff. That about says it! Two online veterans get drunk and exchange e-mails. (An ongoing series. The above link is part one. Part two is here, and part three can be found right here). (Via Maud)
posted by braun_richard on Aug 22, 2004 - 4 comments

...as in the Dreyfus Affair, stay with me people!

Kinsley goes Zola on Brooks "In his writing and on television, he actually seems reasonable. More than that, he seems cuddly. He gives the impression of being open to persuasion. Like the elderly Jewish lady who thinks someone must be Jewish because ''he's so nice,'' liberals suspect that a writer as amiable as Brooks must be a liberal at heart. Some conservatives think so too." via A&L Daily
posted by leotrotsky on May 22, 2004 - 6 comments

The Adventure of the Wooden Spoon

"If this was Jane Austen or Charles Dickens, there would be a national outcry". Thousands of personal papers belonging to Sherlock Holmes creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, fetched $1.7 million at an auction Wednesday, with many items sold to private U.S. collectors. The auction was a great disappointment to scholars who had hoped the papers would be donated to a public institution. The archive also became entwined in a mystery worthy of Conan Doyle's fictional detective: the bizarre death of a leading Holmes scholar. Lancelyn Green, 50, was found dead in his bed on March 27, garroted with a shoelace tightened by a wooden spoon, and surrounded by stuffed toys. (more inside)
posted by matteo on May 19, 2004 - 11 comments

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