"From a comic standpoint, anyone who’s every been to a cocktail party with university colleagues knows that even at the best of times it’s an ongoing comedy of manners, a ballet of awkwardness. There exist in university settings the following: Competition, ego, eccentric personalities. Sartorial affectation (berets, tweed blazers, brightly colored silk scarves, Trotsky-style beards, all manner of glasses). Bureaucracy and Machiavellian maneuvering. Snubs and indignities and inappropriate flirtations.[more inside]
"All, as they say, ripe for satire."
To say that Asians cannot be superheroes because of “Asian values” erases traditional and contemporary Asian superheroes, assumes all Asians are the same, and echoes a long history of racist oppression. It tells Asians that we can only be part of someone else’s story, and never make our own stories. Having Asian superheroes is a way of changing all that.In response to their compatriot Umapagan Ampikaipakan's New York Times piece about the "oxymoron of Asian superheros", fellow Malaysian writers Amanda Ng Yann Chwen and Louise Tan speak of the importance of having relatable role models in fiction.
Two recent essays explore the way our expectations and our language interact in fiction: First, at The Toast, Brittany K. Allen deals with what "urban" means in "urban romance," and how hewing to the genre affected her writing, in "I Wrote the Accent." Next, Andrew Piper and Richard Jean So use sentiment analysis to determine whether pop fiction is more sentimental than its literary cousin, in "Quantifying the Weepy Bestseller."
What would have happened if Harry Potter had been a squib? How might the story of the books gone differently? Well. Perhaps Arabella Figg noticed something first.
Chad W. Post at Three Percent recently linked to World Literature Today's 75 Notable Translations of 2015 and went on a list-making tear to provide more structure and commentary: 7 books by women, 6 water-cooler fiction books, 6 university press books, 3 'funny' books, 4 books from underrepresented countries, and the best poetry I should read. The commentary often leads to further matters of interest, e.g. the Women in Translation Tumblr or Marianne Fritz and the translation challenges (scroll down) in her work.
Gabriel García Márquez began writing Cien Años de Soledad—One Hundred Years of Solitude—a half-century ago, finishing in late 1966. The novel came off the press in Buenos Aires on May 30, 1967, two days before Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released, and the response among Spanish-language readers was akin to Beatlemania: crowds, cameras, exclamation points, a sense of a new era beginning. In 1970 the book appeared in English, followed by a paperback edition with a burning sun on its cover, which became a totem of the decade. By the time García Márquez was awarded the Nobel Prize, in 1982, the novel was considered the Don Quixote of the Global South, proof of Latin-American literary prowess. [...] How is it that this novel could be sexy, entertaining, experimental, politically radical, and wildly popular all at once? Its success was no sure thing, and the story of how it came about is a crucial and little-known chapter in the literary history of the last half-century.The Secret History of One Hundred Years of Solitude
George Saunders reads short short stories by Grace Paley and Barry Hannah and discusses them with Deborah Treisman, fiction editor of The New Yorker. The podcast is less than 40 minutes long and each of the stories fit on a single page of the magazine.
Four-day marathon public reading of War and Peace begins in Russia. [The Guardian]
A marathon four-day Russian public reading of Leo Tolstoy’s vast classic novel War and Peace kicked off on Tuesday morning, with more than 1,300 people in more than 30 cities preparing to make their contributions to the record-breaking project. Coordinated by Tolstoy’s great-great-granddaughter Fekla Tolstaya, and featuring a number of cultural luminaries including the Polish film director Andrzej Wajda, the readings are being streamed by Russian state television channel Kultura. One volume of Tolstoy’s fictionalised history of Russia during the Napoleonic campaign will be read each day.
The Economics of Neko Atsume -- Nicole Dieker meditates on a cat-gathering future for The Billfold in a story tagged NEKO ATSUME, ONLINE GAMES THAT SUGGEST HORRIBLE DYSTOPIAN FUTURES, SERIOUSLY NEKO ATSUME IS THE CUTEST GAME I HAVE FED SO MANY CATS. If you're looking for hard economic analysis of the sardine-to-gold exchange rate, move on: this is a slice of life story in a world where gathering cats is all that matters. (And if adding a layer of "horrible dystopia" would negatively affect your gathering of cats, you might want to skip this one.) [more inside]
Debate erupts as Hanya Yanagihara's editor takes on critic over bad review of A Little Life. [The Guardian] The editor of Hanya Yanagihara’s bestselling novel A Little Life has taken to the pages of the New York Review of Books to defend his author from a review that claimed the novel “duped” its readers “into confusing anguish and ecstasy, pleasure and pain”. [more inside]
Marlon James, winner of this year’s Man Booker prize, believes that writers of color are “pandering to the white woman.” [The Guardian]
The 2015 Man Booker prize winner Marlon James has slammed the publishing world, saying authors of colour too often “pander to white women” to sell books, and that he could have been published more often if he had written “middle-style prose and private ennui”.[more inside]
The 2015 The Nebula Awards Suggested Reading List, selected collaboratively by the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in the run up to the Nebula Award. Categories include novella, novellete and short story, within which most entries have links full stories.
"The underground bad place is always in the present, whether literally or in memory, and it is always about the past." Bernadette Lynn Bosky on underground and secret spaces in Peter Straub’s fiction.
"It isn’t easy to discover new podcasts. There are just SO many out there. Sometimes the best approach is to simply turn to a friend and say, 'Hey, what are you listening to these days?'" So, NPR has created earbud.fm, a "friendly guide to great podcasts."
Blue Monday - a sci-fi short story by Laurie Penny for Motherboard all about cats, Internet videos, and emotional contagions.
Jezebel ran a Scary Story contest this year, here's the wonderful (though sometimes badly edited) results. Need more? Then check out last year's winners, especially the one titled "Look at Me".
Facebook, funeral homes and the feeding of our lives as we fade away. A horror story by Andrew F. Sullivan for Hazlitt.
At the end of a quiet road, behind a veil of twisted black oak trees, there was a house. A woman lived there. On bitter nights like this one, she sat by the fire and read until she grew tired enough for sleep. But on this night, as her lids grew heavy, she was startled by a sound. A sound she wasn’t accustomed to hearing these days. Who could be calling, she wondered? And this late? She rose from her chair and picked up the phone. “Hello?” [more inside]
The film Alien Nation was a hit in 1988, so the fledgling Fox Network figured building off its success with a human-alien buddy cop show was a can’t-miss concept.... [more inside]
Zack Parsons, Something Awful's resident writer of much weirdness (oldest articles in that listing may be misattributed) has resumed his beloved series with Steve Sumner (the Max to his Sam), WTF D&D. While Zack still writes for Something Awful, he and Steve's reviews of weird pen-and-paper RPG sourcebooks and art, and their rollicking RPG campaigns, have resumed on Zack's new site, The Bad Guys Win, which also features other new articles from Zack (all of the new WTF D&D, currently a two-part adventure in the Ravenloft setting starring Steve as an idiot monk, is collected under Games). [more inside]
Camus' Web. by Jacob Eugene Horn [McSweeney's Internet Tendency]
Wilbur the pig was unhappy. In the two short months that he had been alive, Wilbur was certain he experienced the peaks and valleys of happiness and despair. When he was but a runt, he was free to prance about, but now that he was under the care of Farmer Zuckerman he was confined to a simple pig pen.
History v Historical Fiction by Jane Smiley [The Guardian] Historical fiction is not a secondary form – I was condescended to by a conservative historian who cannot see that he too constructs stories.
“The condescender was Niall Ferguson, a conservative historian about 15 years younger than me, who wanted to be sure that I understood that the historical novel is all made up, but that historical non-fiction, written by historians is truth. He referred to his research. I referred to my research. He wasn’t convinced. I suggested that the demands of history and fiction are slightly different – that since a novel is a story, it must be complete, and since a history must be accepted by the reader as accurate, it must be incomplete.”
The Wheel of Time Reread by Leigh Butler [TOR.COM]
Hello! Welcome to the introductory post of a new blog series on Tor.com, The Wheel of Time Re-read. This is in preparation for the publication of the next and last book in the series, A Memory of Light, which is[more inside]
scheduled to bepublished this fall. My name is Leigh Butler, and I’ll be your hostess for the festivities. I’m very excited to be a part of this project, and I hope you will enjoy it as well.
Henning Mankell, Dean of Scandinavian Noir Writers, Dies at 67 [The New York Times]
Henning Mankell, the Swedish novelist and playwright best known for police procedurals that were translated into a score of languages and sold by the millions throughout the world, died Monday morning in Goteborg, Sweden. He was 67. Mr. Mankell was considered the dean of the so-called Scandinavian noir writers who gained global prominence for novels that blended edge-of-your-seat suspense with flawed, compelling protagonists and strong social themes. The genre includes Arnaldur Indridason of Iceland, Jo Nesbo of Norway and Stieg Larsson of Sweden, among others.[more inside]
This is the way the world ends: not with a bang but a bronchial spasm. That is, at least, according to William Delisle Hay’s 1880 novella The Doom of the Great City. It imagines the entire population of London choked to death under a soot-filled fog. The story is told by the event’s lone survivor sixty years later as he recalls “the greatest calamity that perhaps this earth has ever witnessed” at what was, for Hay’s first readers, the distant future date of 1942. -- Brett Beasley in the Public Domain review on one of the first modern urban apocalypse stories.
Why Five Friends Stopped Watching the NFL and Started a Book Club
Instead of watching the NFL, we’re launching Football Book Club. And you know what: No one ever got concussed reading The Goldfinch. No one ever suffered a career-ending cervical spine injury curling up with his Kindle. No one’s mind was every slowly destroyed by books — the effect is really quite the opposite — despite what some social conservatives would have you believe. And, best of all: There is no way Roger Goodell can ruin this — he’s not even invited. Every week, we’re exchanging one love for another: Instead of turning on the TV, we’ll read a new book — great works of fiction and nonfiction, poetry and graphic novels — and then we’ll share our thoughts about the current title and what our lives are like without the NFL.[more inside]
For nine seasons, (1995-2004) comedienne and actress Kathy Kinney played Mimi Bobeck, the "outrageously made-up, flamboyantly vulgar, and vindictive nemesis" of Drew Carey on the sitcom The Drew Carey Show. Lately, she's been busy with a new role: professional children's storyteller. Welcome to Mrs. P's Magic Library. [more inside]
The Simpsons title credits sequence is one of the most delightfully surreal animations in recent history. But when Yoann Hervo recorded it to VHS back in the 90's he must have turned the surreality setting up to 11.
Life After A Total Hack. "A short story about the biggest fear you don’t even know you have," by Jon Methven. LinkedIn, eHarmony and Last.fm were all "hacked wide open this week [June 6, 2012] .. But what would happen to us if everything got compromised?" [more inside]
Morrissey’s debut novel List of the Lost is published today. The author has explained that “The theme is demonology … the left-handed path of black magic. It is about a sports relay team in 1970s America who accidentally kill a wretch who, in esoteric language, might be known as a Fetch … a discarnate entity in physical form.” The initial reviews have not been kind: “an unpolished turd of a book” reckons Michael Hann at The Guardian; “a bizarre misogynistic ramble” opines Nico Hines of The Daily Beast. [more inside]
Franz Kafka meets Charlie Brown. Revisiting R. Sikoryak’s "Good ol’ Gregor Brown." The 100th Anniversary of The Metamorphosis, previously.
Germany’s famous unit of immortal soldiers pose with their heads in their hands, 1921. The Immortals, ordinary men resurrected from death by a process as yet unknown, served with honour in the First World War until they were liquidated (by being burned to death, the only way they could be killed) by the Weimar Republic in 1924. [more inside]
"Here are some books that will not only make you want to quit doing the thing that is killing you, but also offer an interesting narrative structure for writers because they flout the conventional hero journey template. Instead of a reluctant hero emerging from an ordinary world to delve into the tricky landscape of magic and tests, these heroes begin in chaos and emerge from the grungy ashes of last call and plunge into sober, or at least peaceful, life earned by one’s ability to overcome hurdles associated with addiction." (Antonia Crane at Electric Literature) [more inside]
The 51 Best Fantasy Series Ever Written [Buzzfeed]
Whether you’re a Swords and Sorcery type of fantasy reader, a fan of battles and betrayal, or you just want a few more goddamn elves in your life, there’s something for you here. These are the truly great fantasy series written in the last 50 years.
"Since I was a little girl I’ve been afraid of monsters. I’d put garlic on my window ledge to ward off vampires and sage in the corners to protect me from zombies. Even as a young adult I lay on my ratty futon surrounded by library books terrified someone or something would break into my apartment. After my daughter was born, my fear escalated. I’d check the front door several times a day to make sure the deadbolt was secure and the chain latched. At night I lay in the dark, my mind sending out waves of panic."
What the mainstream would seem to want from black writers are only stories of blackness written from a marginal position, on one hand to serve as witness and on the other to affirm for mainstream readers that they remain white, and so privileged. They want affirmation that the inner life of black folks is more or less the way black folks exist in the white imagination."Color Blind: A Pocket Guide to Race in America," by Calvin Baker, author of Grace [.pdf excerpt] and Dominion
"I’ve been infected by a parasite. I won’t tell you what because I don’t want you to search for it. By the time this reaches you it won’t matter much, anyway. In fact, I’m forbidding you right now from looking for anything or asking anyone. Apparently I have about twelve hours as myself. They won’t say what happens next, because it’s kind of unpredictable. There are lots of animals who’ve had it, but only two people. They won’t tell me." -- The Glad Hosts, a SF short story by Rebecca Campbell
The Best Books of 2015 (So Far) By Christian Lorentzen at Vulture. "These ten stand out as having made an especially remarkable impression on the past half-year." [more inside]
100 thoughts on Kafka's "Metamorphosis" to mark the 100th anniversary of its publication. (via) [more inside]
Gamasutra: “TV host Stephen Colbert has jumped onto [Twine] with a new, free game: Escape from the Man-Sized Cabinet.”