The Fantastic Ursula K. Le Guin - "Ursula Kroeber was born in Berkeley, in 1929, into a family busy with the reading, recording, telling, and inventing of stories. She grew up listening to her aunt Betsy’s memories of a pioneer childhood and to California Indian legends retold by her father. One legend of the Yurok people says that, far out in the Pacific Ocean but not farther than a canoe can paddle, the rim of the sky makes waves by beating on the surface of the water. On every twelfth upswing, the sky moves a little more slowly, so that a skilled navigator has enough time to slip beneath its rim, reach the outer ocean, and dance all night on the shore of another world."
Homeric Singing - An Approach to the Original Performance is the website of Professors Georg Danek and Stefan Hagel. There they have a five minutes of their educated best guess of how ancient Greek bards would have sounded like, singing the epics of Homer accompanying themselves on a phorminx. [via Open Culture]
Welcome Back, SPY. [Esquire] “Then came the last year: the withdrawal of Stewart and Colbert from Comedy Central, the death of Gawker, the return of Hillary, and especially the rise of Donald Trump. SPY pioneered the exposure and ridicule of Trump back in its day, of course, always referring to him as "short-fingered vulgarian Donald Trump"— and in this campaign, astonishingly, that epithet (and the general tiny-hand critique) resurfaced in a big way. As Trump became the Republicans' presumptive nominee, lots more people, pretty much every day, said to me, "SPY really needs to be rebooted, if only just for the election."” [more inside]
"Removed audio of a cat purring when headphone jack is plugged in" [via mefi projects] [more inside]
Banned Books Week Launches With Call to Read Books the 'Closed-Minded' Want Shut [The Guardian] ““But librarians would argue that the best way to guide your children’s reading is to read with them, and talk about what you read. For every parent convinced that a book is evil, there are two other parents who think it’s wonderful. So you have the right to guide your own children’s reading – but not to dictate or suppress someone else’s,” said LaRue. “The truth is, [these] issues are already a part of many children’s lives, and suppressing books about them doesn’t help anyone. In fact, these books may tell children that they are not alone, that what’s happening to them is not unique, and it can be survived. The world can be a dangerous place, but reading about it makes it less so.”” [more inside]
ARTS MacArthur Foundation Announces 2016 ‘Genius’ Grant Winners [The New York Times] This year’s winners of the MacArthur fellowships, awarded for exceptional “originality, insight and potential,” and publicly announced on Thursday, include writers, visual artists, scientists, nonprofit organization leaders and others, who are chosen at a moment when the recognition and money — a no-strings-attached grant of $625,000 distributed over five years — will make a difference. [more inside]
Build your very own house for books to plant in your front yard, and become your neighbourhood’s Street Librarian.
W.P. Kinsella, author of ‘Shoeless Joe,’ dead at 81 [Maclean's Magazine] W.P. Kinsella, the B.C.-based author of “Shoeless Joe,” the award-winning novel that became the film “Field of Dreams,” has died at 81. His literary agency confirms the writer had a doctor-assisted death on Friday in Hope, B.C. The agency did not provide details about Kinsella’s health. [more inside]
On Not Reading by Amy Hungerford [The Chronicle Review] “The activity of nonreading is something that scholars rarely discuss. When they — or others whose identities are bound up with books — do so, the discussions tend to have a shamefaced quality. Blame "cultural capital" — the sense of superiority associated with laying claim to books that mark one’s high social status. More entertainingly, blame Humiliation, the delicious game that a diabolical English professor invents in David Lodge’s 1975 academic satire, Changing Places. ”
No, Alan Moore Isn't a Recluse [Publishers Weekly] “Speaking in intimidatingly long and thoughtful sentences, Moore is affable, relaxed, and eager to talk about his new novel, Jerusalem [Amazon], to be published in September by Norton’s Liveright imprint in the U.S. and Knockabout in the U.K. It’s a 600,000-word opus that has been lurking, Cthulhu-like, behind his last decade of work. Remixing the most-reader-challenging tricks of writers such as James Joyce, Roland Barthes, and Mark Z. Danielewski, Jerusalem is an astonishing collection of words and ideas that weaves a hypnotic spell.” [Previously] [Previously] [more inside]
A nine hour radio adaptation of John Milton's Paradise Lost, starring Linus Roache as Adam and Ian McDiarmid (Dragonslayer, Return of the Jedi) as Satan. [more inside]
This year, Somaliland is celebrating its silver jubilee (though there are concerns and disappointments), and recently held its 9th annual Hargeysa International Book Fair in the (unrecognized) country's capital. The theme this year was leadership, and its connection to art, culture, and creativity. HIBF is the biggest annual event in Somaliland, drawing 11,000 attendees this year, it's an advertisement for a republic that showcases itself as a kind of "anti-Somalia." [more inside]
New York City's Karen Barbarossa is reading the Biblioteca Adelphi catalogue, in order, from 1965 through now. All of it. That's 653 titles, to date.
One Third of Parents Avoid Reading Children Scary Stories, Study Finds [The Guardian] “A survey of 1,003 UK parents by online bookseller The Book People found that 33% would steer clear of books for their children containing frightening characters. Asked about the fictional creations they found scariest as children, a fifth of parents cited the Wicked Witch of the West from L Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, with the Child Catcher from Ian Fleming’s Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang in second place. Third was the Big Bad Wolf, in his grandmother-swallowing Little Red Riding Hood incarnation, fourth the Grand High Witch from Roald Dahl’s The Witches, and fifth Cruella de Vil, from Dodie Smith’s The Hundred and One Dalmatians.”
VictorianSerialNovels.org is a project by Dr. Robyn Warhol and her student Colleen Morrissey that helps you read Victorian novels in serial, as they would have been experienced by readers at the time. The site currently covers three time periods: 1846 - 1848, 1859-1861, and 1864-1866. Texts are sourced from project Gutenberg and Librivox (when available).
A series of pictures of food as eaten in world famous scenes in literature. Charles Roux creates these fictitious meals, photographs them and then eats them. His goal is to collect the photographs in a book, putting the meals back on paper, where they belong.
One hundred years ago, a soldier named Hector Hugh Munro was shot in the head as he crossed no-man’s-land. The night had been dark. Some of the soldiers accompanying him had lit up when they stopped to rest, and the glowing cigarettes attracted a German sniper’s attention. His last words were reported to be: ‘Put that bloody cigarette out!’ The soldier was perhaps the wittiest writer Britain had; his other name was Saki.–Ferrets can be gods, a short essay by Katherine Rundell on the Edwardian short story writer Saki. His stories are available online.
President Obama's Summer Reading List [The Guardian] The White House released [whitehouse.gov] Barack Obama’s summer reading list on Friday as the first family vacationed in Martha’s Vineyard. It’s a mix of prize-winning novels and the memoir of a surfer who spent much of his childhood in Hawaii, something the president can appreciate. [Previously.] [more inside]
Of Thee I Read: The United States in Literature [The New York Times] Reporters and editors on the National Desk of The New York Times were asked to suggest books that a visitor ought to read to truly understand the American cities and regions where they live, work and travel. There were no restrictions — novels, memoirs, histories and children’s books were fair game. Here are some selections. Recommend a book that captures something special about where you live in the comments, or on Twitter with the hashtag #natbooks. [more inside]
The Misanthropic Genius of Joy Williams [The New York Times] The writer’s new story collection establishes her as one of the greatest chroniclers of humanity’s insignificance. [more inside]
A letter of thanks for an unusual gift, a poem about a dying queen (with audio of the poet reading it), and a short story about a devoted couple with a shocking secret (with an introduction by Edith Pearlman): all are from the pen of the English novelist, short-story writer, poet, musicologist, translator & biographer; feminist, lesbian & communist Sylvia Townsend Warner (1893-1978). [more inside]
The Deaf Poets Society is an online literary journal that publishes poetry, prose, cross-genre work, reviews of disability-focused books, interviews/miscellany, and art by writers and artists with disabilities. Founded in 2016, our mission is to provide a venue for disability literature and art, as well as to connect readers with established and emerging talent in the field. [more inside]
When I became pregnant four years ago, I was writing a book about 19th-century British poetry and war while teaching classes about the history of war literature. I began to think about the discrepancy between how we narrate these experiences. We have a rich, challenging, and complex canon of war literature...The same cannot be said about a literature of pregnancy or childbirth or parenting, though these are also extreme experiences that stretch our understanding and push us beyond comfort or even comprehension. [more inside]
In 1909, Julian Hawthorne (Nathaniel H.'s dashing, reckless son) released a wildly eclectic anthology called The Lock and Key Library: ten shotgun blast volumes of mystery, detection, horror, suspense, crime, decadence, and romance, comprised of stories, novel excerpts, folktales, and memoirs gathered from Russia, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Japan, China, Tibet, Iran, the Ottoman Empire, India, Arabia, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Germany, France, England, Ireland and the United States. [more inside]
Man Booker Prize Announces 2016 Longlist: The longlist, or ‘Man Booker Dozen’, for the £50,000 Man Booker Prize is announced today. This year’s longlist of 13 books was selected by a panel of five judges: Amanda Foreman (Chair); Jon Day; Abdulrazak Gurnah; David Harsent and Olivia Williams. It was chosen from 155 submissions published in the UK between 1 October 2015 and 30 September 2016. The Man Booker Prize for Fiction, first awarded in 1969, is open to writers of any nationality, writing originally in English and published in the UK. [more inside]
On June 27 Google disabled Dennis Cooper's long-running blog and the associated Gmail account. The Blogger site, which Cooper has been frequently updating since 2002, was a gathering space for fans of experimental literature. [more inside]
The Strand Bookstore (NYC) has included a literary matching quiz in its job application form since the 1970s. Here are some quizzes from years past. Can you match the authors and titles? Beware of trick questions.
The Best Time I Pretended I Hadn’t Heard of Slavoj Žižek is a humorous essay by Rosa Lyster about driving people mad by pretending she doesn't know a common cultural touchstone, such as Žižek, Twin Peaks or The Beatles. This is her second essay for The Hairpin, after My Dad Reads ‘Wuthering Heights’ For The First Time, which is how her dad rediscovered a love for reading fiction. Her essays have been published here and there, and she writes an essay a week on her website. The latest essay is about Peanuts and being an older sister.
The Forbidden Words Of Margaret A. is a science fiction story by L. Timmel Duchamp, first published in 1990, describing a journalist's heavily-vetted meeting with a woman whose words have been declared illegal by the American government. [more inside]
"Oscar Wilde’s long-suffering wife is supposed to be buried in Italy. So what’s her gravestone doing in a cemetery in Spain, and who lies under it?" [more inside]
Caesar, now: a man angry, valourous, fair, bulky, madly-bold, high-spirited, very difficult, haughty, dour and grievous, vehement-natured, firm, strong, contemptuous, self-willed, unsimple, severe, keen, unloved, famous, wrathful, cunning, eloquent, unashamed, indefatigable, venomous, hostile. A king in kingship and a soldier in deeds of valour and bravery, a battle-tower in courage, a soldier in activity. In the floodtide of his grace and his age was he then.In Cath Catharda is a medieval Irish epic about the Roman civil wars. [more inside]
Ning Ken's 4000-word essay translated by Thomas Moran. In the 1980s, when China was starting to open up to the world, Latin American literature, with Gabriel García Márquez as the representative, poured into China. When we read “magic realism,” it seemed familiar, it seemed close to us, and that is because in their suffering and their difficult, incredible histories, Chinese people and Latin Americans have a lot in common. Indeed, in the 1980s we often spoke of China as a place of “magic realism.” But since the 1990s, and especially in the past dozen years or so, China is no longer that place; it is now a place of the “ultra-unreal.” [more inside]
"The personal essay format demands that women reveal everything, often to the point of absurdity, while also allowing men to get away with vague metaphors and platitudes. On one end of the spectrum you have “I’m Glad My Friend Killed Herself,” and on the other end you have, "I Did Some Bad Shit, But All You Need To Know Is That I’m Dealing With It, Manfully."
Michael Herr, author of Dispatches, dies aged 76. [The Guardian] Michael Herr, the American writer and war correspondent famous for writing Dispatches, described as “the best book I have ever read on men and war in our time” by John le Carré, has died aged 76. Born in 1940, Herr was one of the most respected writers of New Journalism, the novelistic reportage pioneered by the likes of Tom Wolfe and Truman Capote, where the journalist is as much part of the story as their subject. He practised this most famously in his book Dispatches, about his time working as a war correspondent for Esquire magazine in Vietnam between 1967 to 1969.
A Summer Reading List for Wretched Assholes Who Prefer to Wallow in Someone Else’s Misery by Claire Cameron [The Millions] “By some secret law of lists, “summer reads” often settle on books that are light and fluffy and happy. Like a marshmallow, they are usually too sticky and sweet for my taste. What about a list for us wretched assholes who prefer to spend the summer wallowing in a someone’s else’s misery? On holiday, I cut myself off from my regular writing regime to focus on the people I’m with — I understand this is called “relaxing.” As my real life is relatively drama free, this means I have dangerous spare capacity to obsess over…what? While a happy book might distract me temporarily, it’s far easier to become completely consumed by an epic novel full of anguish.” [more inside]
"You can tell you’re reading a Sad Boner Confessional when a man is describing the worst trauma of a woman’s life purely in terms of what it means about him. " After the Huffington Post picked up "self-described "Media Activist" Ian MacKenzie's blog post "Love Will be the Death of Us" (warning: Huffpo), author Alexandra Erin (previously, previously) had some thoughts on the narcissistic and self-serving genre of author confessional.
The Westminster Detective Library plans to "to catalog and make available online all the short fiction dealing with detectives and detection published in the United States before Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 'A Scandal in Bohemia' (1891)." (This includes fiction originally published in the UK and Europe but reprinted in the USA.) Title, author, date, and full-text searches are all available. At present, the earliest tale available is from 1824. [more inside]
Author Jim C. Hines (previously, previously, previously, previously) once again takes a look at sexism in Science Fiction and Fantasy, this time looking at the written word.
What if you swapped the genders in classic SF&F novels?
What if you swapped the genders in classic SF&F novels?
Voltaire’s Luck by Roger Pearson [Lapham's Quarterly] “It was once said of Voltaire, by his friend the Marquis d’Argenson, that “our great poet forever has one foot on Mount Parnassus and the other in the rue Quincampoix.” The rue Quincampoix was the Wall Street of eighteenth-century Paris; the country’s most celebrated writer of epic and dramatic verse had a keen eye for investment opportunities. By the time d’Argenson made his remark, in 1751, Voltaire had amassed a fortune. He owed it all to a lottery win. Or, to be more precise, to several wins.”
How are we to understand the last line of James Wright's famous "Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota?" [more inside]
"T’Challa emerged as the fictional representation of those countless dreams denied; the unbroken manhood that Ossie Davis famously invoked after the assassination of Malcolm X. Wakanda symbolized the dreams of black utopias like Ethiopia and South Africa that had grown as the Black Freedom Struggle grew over the twentieth century. In this moment when superheroes become a way to explore contemporary anxieties about activism and authority, the Black Panther provides an opportunity for global audiences to study the traditions of black nationalism, Pan-Africanism, and the variety of African indigenous cultures. Dr. Walter Greason (Monmouth University) took a few minutes to suggest a collaborative exploration of these influences" in the Wakanda Syllabus.
The true author of Borges’ fictions was the third man: the broken, middle-aged Borges, the pencil-pusher who toiled away in the basement of a municipal building. He was a working stiff trying to support his family—just like anyone else—trapped in a labyrinth, feeling that his life was somehow a mistake. He is inseparable from the financial struggle he tried so hard not to write about. An essay by Elizabeth Hyde Stevens
(All links very NSFW.) From audiobook mashup artist Tootleg Boy (previously), who brought you The Lord of the Books of the 55 Arse-Hymens of Stone and Pride and Prejudice and 367 Pages of Balls and Young Men, comes the inspirational, patriotic, and incredibly juvenile American Soldier (With A Sniper)
This Week In Fiction: Discovering An Unpublished Story by Langston Hughes [The New Yorker] “Seven People Dancing” is a story by Langston Hughes that was written, most likely, in the early sixties, but was never published. [more inside]
"None of that for the Boxcar Children, who are so Puritan that Henry worries, out loud, that building a pool on Sunday would be amoral—before Jessie justifies the activity by saying that the pool will help them keep clean. " The Spirit Of Capitalism and 'The Boxcar Children' - Jia Tolentino for the 'New Yorker'