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The Empathetic Camera

Frank Norris and the Invention of Film Editing: "At the heart of American author Frank Norris’ gritty turn-of-the-century fiction lies an essential engagement with the everyday shock and violence of modernity. Henry Giardina explores how this focus, combined with his unique approach to storytelling, helped to pave the way for a truly filmic style."
posted by Rumple on May 20, 2015 - 2 comments

The Master of the Apocalypse

László Krasznahorkai, the Hungarian author, wins the 2015 Man Booker International Prize. Awarded for his work, including the only recently available in English Satantango, and the The Melancholy of Resistance (1993 Book of the Year in Germany). Master of the long sentence his work has won praise from critics as a writer who is "fascinated by apocalypse, by broken revelations, indecipherable messages" [See New Yorker link above] and has been praised by many writers, including Susan Sontag, who described the apocalyptic vision of his writing as inviting comparisons to Melville and Gogol. He has collaborated extensively with Hungarian film director and master of the long take, Béla Tarr, including a 7 hour production of Satantango (SLYT) and Tarr's bleak, final work The Turin Horse (SLYT, Hungarian, turn sub-titles if required). Lovingly and expertly translated into English by British poet and Hungarian-born George Szirtes and more latterly by the Hungarian translator Ottilie Muzlet, Krashnorkai caused something of a literary sensation when he visited New York in 2012. As usual The Guardian has a useful summary of, and guide to, his work including many useful links. None are better than the author's own website. I would also recommend the interview with him in The White Review to read what the author has to say for himself. Previous love for Krasznahorkai on Metafilter can be found here and here.
posted by vac2003 on May 20, 2015 - 7 comments

A Broad Box Labeled "Beautiful Things"

For tens of thousands of years, wild horses have inspired humans - to nurture, to create, to slaughter - culminating in the past century of America’s legal and psychological battles over the horses we can’t own. [more inside]
posted by erratic meatsack on May 19, 2015 - 23 comments

Sex and gender doubleshot

17 Pathbreaking Non-Binary and Gender-Fluid Novels | You might be sexually fluid and not realize it — or even care
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on May 18, 2015 - 60 comments

Who is dying and why?

“It is the strangest of bureaucratic rituals,” write two New York Times reporters. “Every week or so, more than 100 members of the government’s sprawling national security apparatus gather, by secure video teleconference, to pore over terrorist suspects’ biographies and recommend to the president who should be the next to die.” In Washington, this weekly meeting has been labeled “Terror Tuesday.” Once established, the list of nominees is sent to the White House, where the president orally gives his approval to each name. With the “kill list” validated, the drones do the rest. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on May 17, 2015 - 55 comments

(there is sometimes cake and tarot readings)

On the Rebirth of Orlando: A Vibrant Literary Scene, in the Shadow of the Mouse (Ryan Rivas, Literary Hub)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on May 14, 2015 - 2 comments

Our Thing

“African Americans,” he wrote in one of his section introductions for Hokum, “like any other Americans, are an angry people with fragile egos. Humor is vengeance. Sometimes you laugh to keep from crying. Sometimes you laugh to keep from shooting … black folk are mad at everybody, so duck, because you’re bound to be in someone’s line of fire.” Paul Beatty on Satire, Racism and Writing for "Weirdos", from the Paris Review.
posted by chavenet on May 9, 2015 - 6 comments

The School of English: a story by Hilary Mantel

'Beneath those houses,' the butler said, 'you should see what goes on. No one suspects the half of it. The whole earth is dug out. Spaciousness beneath. The panic room is seven times the size of this one. The whole of London can fall down around them and yet their freezer is fully stocked. All showers are multi-jet steam cabinets, plus the kitchen has coffee machine built in, ice machine, temperature-controlled cabinet for wine storage, sous vide machine with vacuum sealer, and an air filtration system that is suitable for allergy sufferers.' [TW: rape]
posted by smcg on May 9, 2015 - 9 comments

Gene Wolfe: The Reliably Unreliable Author

Whether it is Alden Dennis Weer in Peace, Severian in The Book of the New Sun and The Urth of the New Sun, Patera Silk in The Book of the Long Sun, Horn in the The Book of the Short Sun, Mr. Green in There Are Doors, or perhaps most interestingly Latro in Soldier of the Mist and its sequels, the vast majority of Wolfe’s narrators and perspective characters are explicitly shown to be unreliable. [more inside]
posted by smcg on May 8, 2015 - 78 comments

“tales of ships and storms … and the Congo.”

"We know that Conrad was an admirer of Stevenson’s work, and in fact that he thought more highly of Stevenson’s South Seas nonfiction writings than of his novels, at least according to Colvin, who knew both men. To my knowledge, however, no one has connected the next set of dots, not just from Stevenson’s writing to Conrad’s, but from Stevenson’s Samoan persona to Kurtz. Why not consider whether Stevenson’s grandiose island life influenced Conrad’s masterpiece?" Where Did Kurtz Come From? [single page], Matthew Pearl for Slate. Related: Conrad’s 'Heart of Darkness' gets operatic treatment (SF Examiner) | reviews (with stage photos).
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on May 7, 2015 - 7 comments

"The knives of jealousy are honed on details."

Ruth Rendell, crime writer, dies aged 85. [The Guardian]
Ruth Rendell, one of Britain’s best-loved authors, who delighted fans for decades with her dark, intricately plotted crime novels, has died at the age of 85, her publisher has announced.
[more inside]
posted by Fizz on May 4, 2015 - 24 comments

Ten Things I Learned from Loving Anne of Green Gables

Realizing the gap between Anne and myself opened up a space for me, as a reader, to ask hard questions about even the books I cherish — and finally to move beyond these sorts of questions, realizing that expecting every character to be a role-model, a perfected version of myself, wasn’t the sort of feminist or reader I wanted to be.
[more inside]
posted by Sokka shot first on Apr 27, 2015 - 20 comments

Distinctly Emasculated

[F. Scott] Fitzgerald saw homosexuality as a weakness—less a sexual predilection than something one undergoes in times of emotional distress. [Ernest] Hemingway used fiction to broadcast his virility after a sexually confusing childhood. Both were more sexually fluid than their contemporary reputations suggest. Cody C. Delistraty in The Paris Review
posted by chavenet on Apr 26, 2015 - 38 comments

Why Has ‘My Struggle’ Been Anointed a Literary Masterpiece?

William Deriesiwicz takes a contrarian point of view on Knausgaard's critically lauded series of novels: The term “hyperrealism” derives from the visual arts, where it refers to paintings that are designed to look like photographs. To call writing like Knausgaard’s hyperrealistic, to enthrone it as the apotheosis of realism, is to cede reality to the camera. It is to surrender everything that makes literature distinct from the photographic and the televisual: its ability to tell us what things look like, not to the eye, but to the mind, to the heart...How sad it is to imagine that some of our most prominent novelists look at My Struggle and think, That’s the book I wish I could have written. How depressing to suppose that just as modernism culminated in Joyce, Proust and Woolf, the literature of our own time has been leading up to… Knausgaard.
posted by shivohum on Apr 23, 2015 - 43 comments

No, these oysters, they were purely oysters as a concept

A trio of Haruki Murakami's Advertorial Short Stories: In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Onward spent massive sums on advertising J. Press in the print media. The classic ad format, often seen on the back cover of lifestyle magazine Popeye, showed a Japanese or American man telling a colorful story about their favorite trad clothing item. In 1985, as Japanese pop culture went in more avant-garde directions, Onward came up with a new idea — asking up-and-coming novelist Murakami Haruki to write a very short story inside each month’s advertisement for magazines Popeye, Box, and Men’s Club. [more inside]
posted by byanyothername on Apr 22, 2015 - 2 comments

"Heh heh heh," everyone said.

The 2015 Lyttle Lytton results are in. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Apr 22, 2015 - 20 comments

Library of Congress Launches Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature

The Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature at the Library of Congress dates back to 1943, when Allen Tate was Consultant in Poetry. It contains nearly two thousand recordings—of poets and prose writers participating in literary events at the Library’s Capitol Hill campus as well as sessions at the Library’s Recording Laboratory. Highlights from the collection include: Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood, Ray Bradbury, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Mario Vargas Llosa, Rita Dove, Elizabeth Bishop, Gwendolyn Brooks, W.S. Merwin, Sandra Cisneros, Amy Clampitt, Robert Pinsky , and Miłosz, Czesław, among many others. [more inside]
posted by Toekneesan on Apr 16, 2015 - 7 comments

"History never really says goodbye. History says, 'See you later.'"

Eduardo Galeano, Uruguayan chronicler of Latin American history, politics, and football, has died at the age of 74 today in his hometown, Montevideo. [more inside]
posted by maskd on Apr 13, 2015 - 21 comments

"The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open."

Günter Grass, German Novelist and Social Critic, Dies at 87 [New York Times]
Günter Grass, the German novelist, social critic and Nobel Prize winner whom many called his country’s moral conscience but who stunned Europe when he revealed in 2006 that he had been a member of the Waffen-SS during World War II, died on Monday. He was 87.
Previously. [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Apr 13, 2015 - 36 comments

I was not part of that crowd that he was talking about

Larry Kramer’s The American People: Volume 1: Search for My Heart: A Novel (previously) is now on the shelves. [more inside]
posted by mandolin conspiracy on Apr 10, 2015 - 2 comments

"Failure is what writers do."

Falling short: seven writers reflect on failure is a collection of seven short essays on failure by writers Diana Athill, Margaret Atwood, Julian Barnes, Anne Enright, Howard Jacobson, Will Self and Lionel Shriver. These range from the meditative to the funny. Essays reflecting on literary failure are legion, but let me point you towards a couple more, the brief Failure Is Our Muse by Stephen Marche and the longer Fail Better by Zadie Smith.
posted by Kattullus on Apr 9, 2015 - 15 comments

Tolerable, I suppose.

The 5 Dreamiest Mr. Darcy’s In TV And Film | The Definitive Ranking of the Best Mr. Darcy Ever (Spoiler: Colin Firth) | Mr. Darcy Love (pinterest) | Can Mr. Darcy Ever Be Rude Enough? | 17 Reasons Mr. Darcy Isn’t Actually That Great | Mr Darcy vs Mr Thornton
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Apr 8, 2015 - 64 comments

"tell that I was loved by the Muses and that the Locrian land bore me"

12 short poems is all that remains of the work of Nossis, one of the most beloved of the Ancient Greek poets. Exactly when she lived is uncertain, but it's certain that she was from Locri, which was on the "toe" of Italy. You can read about what archaeologists have found out about the ancient city on the website Locri Epizephyrii, Welcome To Magna Graecia. Scholars have tried to use Nossis' poetry to explain the particulars of life in Locri, looking for support for claims that noble status descended matrilineally. Marilyn B. Skinner looks at the status of women and explores the "unusual aspects of religious practice at Locri" in her essay Nossis and Women's Cult at Locri. You can read different translations of some of Nossis' poems, three by Skinner and two by Diane Rayor.
posted by Kattullus on Apr 7, 2015 - 5 comments

Reddy, Peter, Chatterer...

The Burgess Animal Book for Children - text, illustrations, and audio. Thornton W. Burgess previously.
posted by Wolfdog on Apr 6, 2015 - 6 comments

Jumpin' Jehosaphat

Why Frogs Have Taken Over Passover: a comprehensive and captivating survey of frogs in legend and literature, just in time for everybody's plague-ridden holiday remembrance. [via mefi projects]
posted by Johnny Wallflower on Apr 2, 2015 - 8 comments

“Every person is a half-opened door leading to a room for everyone.”

Tomas Transtromer, Nobel-Winning Poet, Dies at 83 [New York Times] Previously.
posted by Fizz on Mar 29, 2015 - 13 comments

"There is something maddeningly attractive about the untranslatable"

Variations on the Right to Remain Silent is an essay by poet and classicist Anne Carson about translation, cliché, divine language and the way some words violently resist being explained. She touches on Homer, Sappho, Joan of Arc, Friedrich Hölderlin, and the painter Francis Bacon.
posted by Kattullus on Mar 28, 2015 - 6 comments

"She often condescends to drive by in her little phaeton and ponies."

A handy single-page explanation of horse-drawn carriage varieties, with pithy descriptions and occasional photographs of the barouche, the brougham, the cabriolet, the calash, the char-a-banc, the char-de-cote, the curricle, the dog-cart, the gig, the governess cart, the jaunting car, the landau, the Ralli car, the sociable, the sulky, the waggonette, and others. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Mar 23, 2015 - 34 comments

Fear of a Muslim Planet

The micro-genre of “Islamophobic futurism” in fiction unites Western liberals and conservatives. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Mar 22, 2015 - 39 comments

The Hunter of Doves

Are-you-in-trouble?—Do-you-need-advice?—Write-to-Miss-Lonelyhearts-and-she-will-help-you
Miss Lonelyhearts, The Day of the Locust, A Cool Million, and The Dream Life of Balso Snell, all by Nathanael West [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Mar 20, 2015 - 11 comments

“Thou hast seen nothing yet.”

Remains in Madrid Are Believed to Be Those of Cervantes [New York Times]
Spanish investigators said they had reason to believe that bones found at the Convent of the Discalced Trinitarians were those of the “Don Quixote” author.

posted by Fizz on Mar 18, 2015 - 24 comments

So what if Camus had made it to the cafe where Orwell was waiting?

One day in February 1945, in Paris, George Orwell waited at the café Deux Magots, where he was to meet Albert Camus for the first time.
"The Meeting That Never Was", an essay by Matthew Lamb in the LA Review of Books. [more inside]
posted by Celsius1414 on Mar 13, 2015 - 16 comments

The Great 2015 Indie Press Review

"The feature began originally as an idea born from a discussion online with a number of indie press editors, authors, and readers about the deluge of 'best-of' and 'most anticipated' features and how the majority of these articles continue to be disproportionately favorable to the larger publishing houses. A lot gets lost in transit among the smaller presses, and I wondered why this was the case; the question I asked had been, Why wasn’t there a comprehensive gathering of what the indie community has to offer?" [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Mar 10, 2015 - 4 comments

“...characters arise out of our need for them.”

From Jamaica to Minnesota to Myself by Marlon James [New York Times] [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Mar 10, 2015 - 5 comments

"a tomb in miniature for our souls”

The death of writing – if James Joyce were alive today he’d be working for Google: [Guardian Books]
There’s hardly an instant of our lives that isn’t electronically documented. These days, it is software that maps our new experiences, our values and beliefs. How should a writer respond? Tom McCarthy on fiction in the age of data saturation.

posted by Fizz on Mar 7, 2015 - 11 comments

Indifference helps me across all the mountains of rubbish.

Thomas Bernhard's correspondence with his publisher. [more inside]
posted by kenko on Mar 5, 2015 - 5 comments

The humble quest to read all things lesbian

The Lesbrary - "The humble quest to read everything lesbian: a lesbian book blog." Also see sidebar for links to other lesbian book blogs, websites, and online resources. [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Mar 3, 2015 - 27 comments

Either I'm a sexual deviant, or they're wrong

Did Amazon Sink the Queen of Online Erotica? - Phoebe Reilly, Vulture
"Engler is an underappreciated pioneer, a self-proclaimed feminist in furry-cat slippers. To put her crowning achievement demurely, she challenged the book-publishing industry's denial of women's appetite for sexually explicit books. She wrote tawdry, lowbrow novels, and published hundreds of others, that freed romance from its lame euphemisms well before Fifty Shades of Grey, and she did so in a digital format long before the Kindle and the iPad allowed e-books to flourish.

"To put it less demurely: There were readers out there, lots of them, who didn't want to read about thick manroots. They wanted hard cocks. So that's what Ellora's Cave gave them. Easily and often."

posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Mar 2, 2015 - 52 comments

"Gender, blah, blah, blah"

It’s happened to me several times at a literary event — sometimes one at which I’m reading or speaking — that a kindly, affable chap, after regaling me with a long account of his next book, smiles generously and asks me what I do at Penguin, or how long I’ve been working for the venue. When I say, Oh, actually I’m a writer, a spasm of embarrassment comes over his face. As it should. Not, of course, because of any career’s merit over another’s, but because he’s revealed his inability to see me as a writer. A flustered flash of insight has taken place.
Katherine Angel on the problems of gender representation in literature. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Feb 27, 2015 - 114 comments

Quotas can work if you set them yourself

I wanted to do the same for people of colour. I feel as if my decision brought home just how white my reading world was. For whatever the reason and context, it took me until I was 30 years old to learn that Octavia E. Butler existed – how embarrassing! I’m not blaming anyone or anything for this travesty, and we all know late is better than never … but I think we can do better. I shouldn’t have needed to undertake a 12-month project to discover world class authors.
In 2014 Sunili Govinnage set herself the challenge to read only authors of colour for a year.
posted by MartinWisse on Feb 23, 2015 - 17 comments

"I sat in the middle of a catastrophe."

In 1963 novelist Doris Lessing took in a fifteen year old former schoolmate of her son she had never met who couldn't live at home anymore. This teenage girl later grew up to be a writer herself, Jenny Diski (formerly of this parish), and has written a couple of essays in the London Review of Books about her relationship with Lessing. The first, What to Call Her?, was an obituary published shortly after Lessing's death. The second, Doris and Me, is a part of Diski's longer reckoning with her own life following her diagnosis with terminal cancer. [The last essay has been linked previously as part of a megapost.]
posted by Kattullus on Feb 22, 2015 - 19 comments

An Answer to the Novel’s Detractors

"The world exists. Why recreate it?" Adelle Waldman explains why.
posted by shivohum on Feb 21, 2015 - 28 comments

"John Williams’s resurrection from the boneyard of obscurity"

In 2010 Alan Prendergast wrote a long article about the life of novelist John Williams and how he was beginning, at long last, to find a sizable audience. How true that turned out to be, as Williams' 1965 novel Stoner subsequently became a bestseller all over Europe, first in French translation, but later elsewhere in Europe, and it has begun to get glowing notices in his native US. Williams is not around to enjoy the success, as he passed away in 1994. Now another of his novels, Augustus, has also begun its rise from obscurity. The New York Review of Books republished it last year on the occasion of the 2000th anniversary of the first Roman Emperor's death. On the NYRB website you can read Daniel Mendelsohn's fine introduction to the book.
posted by Kattullus on Feb 20, 2015 - 15 comments

"Oh, how I mourn her passing"

Traces of Mavis. David MacFarlane writes about the life and work of Mavis Gallant for Canadian magazine The Walrus.
...an aspiring novelist once pressed Gallant for advice, which she stubbornly refused to give. She could have said something—anything, almost—to satisfy the would-be writer. But she wasn’t the kind of person who did that. ... How to write? This was not, as far as Gallant was concerned, an uncomplicated question. It was also a question that, were it to be answered meaningfully, would require more soul-searching, more thought, more self-analysis than she would want to undertake in front of a stranger. It’s easy to imagine how the question could come across as rude or impossible to answer—or both. Besides, she firmly believed that writing could not be taught. But the young author persisted. “All right,” Gallant finally said. “Here’s some advice: never drink cheap wine.”

posted by jokeefe on Feb 18, 2015 - 5 comments

Go obscure, out-of-print, feminist, progressive, female authors!!! Woot!

Drinking My Way Through the Literary 1930's : "The backbone of this blog is the amazing and unfortunately out-of-print book, So Red the Nose. To this 1935, somewhat tongue-in-cheek recipe book, thirty bestselling contemporary authors submitted original cocktails, based around their own original works ... My mission, then, is to recreate 29 of these cocktails ... and combine them with their namesakes, ... discovering which books are classics tragically forgotten and which are better left to collect dust in library basements." [via mefi projects] [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Feb 14, 2015 - 11 comments

The first science fiction anthology to focus on the immigrant experience

The first science fiction anthology to focus on the immigrant experience [via mefi projects]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Feb 12, 2015 - 8 comments

Heroic Devices

The University of Glasgow's French Emblems project hosts thousands of 16th century woodcuts and etchings. The archive boasts an unusually thorough metadata scheme, allowing you to browse cryptic images of beards, birds in cages, pointed fingers, triumphal conquerors, and fabulous animals, among many other categories. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Feb 9, 2015 - 6 comments

The Shapes of Stories

How many plots are there? Matthew Jockers says six.
posted by the man of twists and turns on Feb 6, 2015 - 61 comments

The making of "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek"

When Annie Dillard wrote Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, she didn't think anyone would want to read a memoir by a "Virginia housewife". So she left her domestic life out of the book - and turned her surroundings into a wilderness. The Thoreau of the Suburbs.
posted by paleyellowwithorange on Feb 5, 2015 - 21 comments

Do you read Sutter Cane? No? Oh, he's good, check him out. Well, bye

The Wall Street Journal celebrates the 20th anniversary of John Carpenter's In The Mouth of Madness. Meanwhile, at VICE, John Carpenter wouldn't explain his new album, so they got a bunch of artists to each provide their own interpretation.
posted by Sticherbeast on Feb 4, 2015 - 27 comments

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