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23 (2)

Tozai Mystery Best 100

In 1985, the Mystery Writers of Japan (plus "508 people who love mystery novels") assembled two separate lists of the 100 best mystery novels: one each for the books of the East and West. A revised list came out in 2012. Both Western lists are remarkable for their comparative lack of overlap with the "100 best" lists produced by the American and British mystery writers associations. The Eastern lists are remarkable for the fact that fewer than a quarter of their entries have been translated into English. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jul 18, 2014 - 14 comments

Na Thing Left Unruinated

447 years ago this morning, the Provost's house at Kirk o' Field, Edinburgh, was annihilated in an explosion. Lord Darnley, king consort to Mary, Queen of Scots, had been staying in the house to recuperate from a bout of pox; his body was found in a nearby orchard, unburnt but asphyxiated. Rafael Sabatini recounts the possible course of events in his Historical Nights' Entertainment, a two volume anthology of murders, court intrigues, and scandals. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Feb 10, 2014 - 18 comments

A Very Beerbohm Christmas

Presenting A Christmas Garland woven through with festive stories and essays by H*nry J*m*s, R*dy*rd K*pl*ng, Th*m*s H*rdy, H.G. W*lls, G**rg* B*rn*rd Sh*w, and many other worthies from the Edwardian literary c*n*n! [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Dec 24, 2013 - 6 comments

A Christmas Offering

...They have got up among themselves a periodical called THE LOWELL OFFERING, "a repository of original articles, written exclusively by females actively employed in the mills," -- which is duly printed, published, and sold; and whereof I brought away from Lowell four hundred good solid pages, which I have read from beginning to end...Of the merits of the Lowell Offering as a literary production I will only observe, putting entirely out of sight the fact of the articles having been written by these girls after the arduous labours of the day, that it will compare advantageously with a great many English Annuals. It is pleasant to find that many of its Tales are of the Mills, and of those who work in them; that they inculcate habits of self-denial and contentment, and teach good doctrines of enlarged benevolence.
On an early leg of his 1842 American tour, Charles Dickens paid a visit to Lowell, Massachusetts, where he toured the famous river-powered textile mills and met some of the thousands of young women employed there. The literary journal he carried away, the Offering, inculcated certain of its benevolent doctrines through stories about Christmas, ghosts, mystic journeys through time and space, and mystic journeys through time and space with ghosts. Soon after his return to England, Dickens published A Christmas Carol. Coincidence? [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Dec 20, 2013 - 13 comments

The Readings of Elizabeth Klett

Librivox, the grand repository for free recordings of public domain literature, hosts quite a few fine readers. I'm partial to the Dickens interpretations of Czechchris and Mil Nicholson, and I've warmed to Chiquito Crasto's judicious renditions of classic ghost stories. But for my money, the best reader on Librivox is Elizabeth Klett, a trained actor and English professor whose many recordings unite range and insight. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Dec 4, 2013 - 34 comments

Whoomp

Slate's Ben Blatt "sat in a Barnes & Noble for three hours flipping through all seven Where’s Waldo books with a tape measure" and emerged with a method for finding Waldo with speed more than 50% of the time. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Nov 19, 2013 - 43 comments

Inspirational and Educational Reading

"In Advanced Readings in D&D, Tor.com writers Tim Callahan and Mordicai Knode take a look at Gary Gygax’s favorite authors and reread one per week, in an effort to explore the origins of Dungeons & Dragons and see which of these sometimes-famous, sometimes-obscure authors are worth rereading today." [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Nov 8, 2013 - 42 comments

How to Write

Writing advice from Oates, Wolfe, Levine, Pynchon, Stein, Welty, DeLillo, Chekhov, Gallant, and Elkin; Baldwin, Miller, Morrison, Vonnegut, Atwood, Nabokov, and Stein again; Maugham, Hughes, Duras, Orwell, Ashbery, Sontag, Creeley, and Steinbeck; O'Connor, Baxter, Didion, Yeats, Hejinian, Cocteau, du Plessix Gray, and Bolaño; Waldrop, Cary, Pessoa, Amis, Carroll, Atwood, and Le Guin; Vinge, Williams, Crane, Creeley once more, Gallant, Vargas Llosa, Mathews, and Wolfe again. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Sep 18, 2013 - 33 comments

Character Writings of the 1600s

The Corranto-Coiner, the Huffing Courtier, the Prater, the Squire of Dames, the Braggadocio Welshman, the Droll, the Pot Poet, the Ingrosser of Corn, the Duke of Bucks, the Drunken Dutchman Resident in England, the Factious Member, the Common Singing Men in Cathedral Churches, the Wittol, the Knight of the Post, and many more neglected stereotypes of 17th century England. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Sep 5, 2013 - 20 comments

Lit Lists and Ranked Ratings

Christopher Pound combines and weights lists and ratings from Project Gutenberg, Goodreads, and elsewhere to produce novel sortings of familiar dataShakespeare's plays by popularity, for example. The most successful fiction writers at Gutenberg, and the top thousand most popular works of fiction found there. The most highly rated films of 2012 and 2011. The most popular Sci-fi and fantasy sub-genres at Goodreads. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on May 30, 2013 - 25 comments

Dhcmrlchtdj!

The Library of Babel is online! Recently digitized classics include Rtvcdg Lxcxahssds Qgflvab mge Bjbpd Orrq, Dgqqjv Iqfold xpx Ljg vjd Vapdophr, and Vmcyogxmvyrnle Lgjmyqsh Hfmni Lyvvdahec Bajvp Hlibiov, which appears by the gracious permission of Lbtddnbdqh Pjnghbdtvmi. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on May 29, 2013 - 42 comments

"Each animal reminds one terribly of certain men."

Next to a beautiful, elegant woman, between the silky spirals of her train, on the back of a chair, in a dark angle in the background, he accurately painted, although almost invisible, the animal that recalled the face of the protagonist. He thus had a series of ladies and gentlemen from the squirrel, from the lizard, from the sea horse, etc.
From "The Real Face," by Guido Gozzano, "first and finest representative of the Crepuscolari, the poets of the Twilight." [more inside]
posted by Iridic on May 23, 2013 - 1 comment

Inventions of the Monsters

"It was John Polidori's misfortune to be comic without having a sense of humor, to wish to be a great writer but to be a terrible one, to be unusually bright but surrounded for one summer by people who were titanically brighter, and to have just enough of an awareness of all of this to make him perpetually uneasy. Also, he couldn't jump."
posted by Iridic on Mar 18, 2013 - 107 comments

We are for the dark

Robert Aickman wrote some of the best ghost stories of the last fifty years. He also edited one of the finest genre anthology series of his time: The Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories. Between 1964 and 1972, he curated eight volumes of horror fiction without repeating an author, favoring always the subtle, the psychological, the poetic, the rare, the neglected. 59 of his selections can be found online. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Oct 25, 2012 - 21 comments

Machado de Assis

Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (1839-1908) is the greatest of Brazilian writers, an ironist, realist, and fabulist in the leauge of Chekhov, Flaubert, and Borges. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Sep 10, 2012 - 4 comments

Language of Origin

"You are a junior spelling champion. Your parents have been teaching you at home since you were four." Bee: a choose-your-own-bittersweet-coming-of-age novella by Emily Short. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jun 5, 2012 - 36 comments

O'Sullivan: Master of the Fallen Years

"As the Nazis approached Paris, the American Colony broke camp & abandoned the city like rats from a sinking ship. Behind them they left a frail, elderly, impoverished, homeless Irish-American who, as a young man, had been an heir to wealth, a close friend to Beardsley & Wilde, & the only important American in the 1890s Aesthetic movement of England & France. He was Vincent O'Sullivan, one of the world's great authors of horror fiction..." [more inside]
posted by Iridic on May 7, 2012 - 9 comments

"The Dead"

Lily, the caretaker's daughter, was literally run off her feet...
Today is the feast of Epiphany, the last day of the traditional Christmas season; the day also when the Misses Morkan held that grand affair, their annual dance, in James Joyce's "The Dead." [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jan 6, 2012 - 71 comments

"Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels—bring home for Emma."

A Canticle for Leibowitz (1981, NPR); an audio adaptation of Walter Miller's 1960 history of the Albertian Order of Leibowitz in the centuries after the Flame Deluge. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jul 19, 2011 - 69 comments

Josephine Tey

Someone used to great responsibility, and responsible in his authority. Someone too-conscientious...He had that incommunicable, that indescribable look that childhood suffering leaves behind it; less positive than the look on a cripple’s face, but as inescapable. This the artist had both understood and translated into terms of paint...He turned the portrait over to look for a caption. On the back was printed: Richard the Third.
From Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time, "a book of singular originality, ingenuity and humanity" often cited as one of the best of all mystery novels. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jul 1, 2011 - 31 comments

On First Looking into Lovecraft's Homer

A Cyclops' cave the wanderers brave
And find much milk & cheese
But as they eat, foul death they meet
For them doth Cyclops seize.

From The Young Folks' Ulysses [PDF], by H. Lovecraft, poet, aged seven. One of the "freely available editions of obscure, outlandish and otherwise outré works of semi-fine literature" from the electric publishing wing of kobek.com.
posted by Iridic on Mar 28, 2011 - 8 comments

Clear your dance card

A Dance With Dragons, the fifth book in George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, will arrive on July 12. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Mar 3, 2011 - 163 comments

"Take a step or two forward, lads. It will be easier that way."

Robert Erskine Childers was the creator of the modern spy novel, a loyal son of Empire, a fierce exponent of Irish Home Rule, an excellent sailor, a gunrunner, an Anti-Treaty partisan. He died by firing squad in 1922.
posted by Iridic on Dec 15, 2010 - 11 comments

"An organization of the disorganized..."

The University of Washington's Vienna: 1900 collects a number of pieces from the height of Austrian café society. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Dec 8, 2010 - 8 comments

Chris Stangl's Exploding Kinetoscope

This may only occur to the obsessive student of The Parent Trap, but once the subtleties are noticed, hints start stacking up, and a creeping sense of the mythic pervades the film...
Join Chris Stangl, King of the Beanplaters, as he obsessively studies The Parent Trap, Little Shop of Horrors, Beetlejuice, Teen Wolf, the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and more.
posted by Iridic on Oct 28, 2010 - 33 comments

"Biped. Omnivorous. 20 major works, namely, ten monthly serials, five weekly serials, five novellas..."

Dickens' novels ranked. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jul 20, 2010 - 49 comments

Saving Face

Dahlia Lithwick (previously) is trying to write a chick-lit novel in nineteen days.
posted by Iridic on Sep 11, 2009 - 63 comments

Fauxbituaries

i dream of a world without you: death notices for the nonexistent. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jul 13, 2009 - 12 comments

Interviews with Venturous Writers

Dalkey Archive conversations with William Burroughs, Angela Carter, Robert Creeley, William Gaddis, William H. Gass, Danilo Kis, Harry Mathews, Richard Powers, Raymond Queneau, Hubert Selby, William T. Vollman, David Foster Wallace, and many other writers.
posted by Iridic on Oct 12, 2008 - 9 comments

The Apparition of Enoch Soames

In the summer of 1897, the Devil transported a minor Decadent poet named Enoch Soames one hundred years into the future to see what posterity would make of his work. The only witness to the affair was the parodist Max Beerbohm, whose account of Soames and his journey ensured that at 2:10 P.M. on June 7, 1997, some dozen pilgrims waited in the Round Reading Room of the British Museum to see the poet appear...
posted by Iridic on Jul 22, 2008 - 26 comments

Invisible and Redoubtable Beings

"The Great God Pan," by Arthur Machen. "The Beckoning Fair One," by Oliver Onions. "Green Tea," by J. Sheridan LeFanu. "The Boarded Window," by Ambrose Bierce. "The Horla," by Guy de Maupassant.
posted by Iridic on Oct 31, 2007 - 15 comments

The Prix Jack Trevor Story

The Jack Trevor Story Memorial Prize "is generally awarded for a work of fiction or body of work which, in the opinion of the committee, best celebrates the spirit of Jack Trevor Story. The conditions of the prize are that the money shall be spent in a week to a fortnight and the author have nothing to show for it at the end of that time." The 2006 winner of the prize is Steve Aylett.
posted by Iridic on Dec 11, 2006 - 6 comments

"Love in the Time of Cholera:" 8.6% "Harry Potter:" 45.6%

Put a little commerce in your art with Lulu's Titlescorer, a widget that analyzes your book title's chances of gracing the top of the New York Time's bestseller list.
posted by Iridic on Nov 26, 2006 - 69 comments

FLA FUR BIS FLE

"Oh, Whistle, And I'll Come to You, My Lad," "Casting the Runes," and other stories by M.R. James, the master of the ghost story.
posted by Iridic on Oct 31, 2006 - 22 comments

Sorry, but I can't find "Story of Your Life"

Here are four stories by the great Ted Chiang.
posted by Iridic on Sep 2, 2006 - 15 comments

Why isn't Interstellar Pig a movie yet?

Hopefully this will put an end to the interminable AskMe questions: Adam Cadre has written a complete retrospective and review of William Sleator’s young adult science fiction.
posted by Iridic on Aug 15, 2006 - 16 comments

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