In 1978, Micheal Moorcock wrote an essay Starship Stormtroopers
published in Anarchist Review
which said that most popular science-fiction and fantasy is deeply Reactionary
(authoritarian conservative right-wing themes), he mocked the notion of sci-fi being a "literature of ideas". But there is some "socialist" science fiction
, China Miéville put together a list of Fifty Fantasy & Science Fiction Works That Socialists Should Read
. [more inside]
Shuffle Literature and the Hand of Fate:
an article about aleatory literature— including mention of Marc Saporta’s Composition No. 1
; B. S. Johnson’s The Unfortunates
; Robert Grenier’s Sentences
and Herta Müller’s Der Wächter nimmt seinen Kamm
... [Thomas] Ligotti's stories tend to have a profound emotional impact. His vision is exceedingly dark, and it is possible for his stories to infect the reader with a mild-to-severe case of depression. It is even possible for them to effect a change in the reader's self-perception and view of the universe. This warning is not meant to be sensationalistic, nor is it meant to turn new readers away. It is simply a statement of fact based upon the experiences of actual readers. Ligotti writes about the darkest of themes with an amazing power, and he means what he says. Often his stories seem to communicate a message below their surface, a sort of subliminal statement that should not rightly be able to traverse the barrier of verbal language.
- Matt Cardin (previously) [more inside]
Readers of literature from "small" languages treasure their translators, who are rarely recognized and poorly compensated for their months and sometimes years of lonely labor.
Two of the best translators from Czech died in the last month or so. Michael Heim
translated not only from Czech but also Russian
, Croatian, Serbian
, German, French and Dutch. Less well-known and less polyglotish, Peter Kussi
translated Milan Kundera
as well as Jiri Grusa
, Karel Capek
, Josef Skvorecky
, Bohumil Hrabal
and others whose works might otherwise be lost to English readers. [more inside]
"You sit down and pull the visor over your head. The visor interior is soft and enveloping. You squeeze the drip tube between your teeth and sickly sweet fluid floods your mouth. Pulses fire into your retinas." howling dogs
is a work of interactive fiction by game designer Porpentine
. It is a strange story about a person who lives in a cell and imagines strange scenes for a living. Endorsed by Emily Short
, and made with Twine
. Takes about 10 to 15 minutes with multiple endings. Via.
A small piece of Truman Capote’s famously unfinished novel Answered Prayers has come to light. The six-page story, “Yachts and Things,” found among Capote’s papers in the Manuscripts and Archives Division of the New York Public Library, is published in the December issue of Vanity Fair, out now in New York and nationally next week. The story will be available online in mid-November. [more inside]
is a catalog of invented books, pictures and antiquities written by 17th Century Englishman Sir Thomas Browne. It is a fantastical and witty meditation on the ravages of time on literature and other works of man
. The Musæum Clausum is perhaps the finest example of the invented, or invisible, library, a genre which seems to have originated with Rabelais
. The genre has been of special interest to Beachcombing's Bizarre History Blog
), where he has written about the invisible libraries of writers such as Charles Dickens
, Neil Gaiman
, H. P. Lovecraft
and invisible libraries in video games
. The natural medium for invisible libraries might be pictures, and Musæum Clausum inspired a suite of etchings
by Erik Desmazieres.
Have literary journals lost their cultural relevance
? Ted Genoways
, former editor of the Virginia Quarterly
suggests they have, and are relegated to publishing masses of material, often submitted by waves of new MFA graduates, that few read. Others question the definition of relevance
. The journals do continue to proliferate
, generating constant fresh material for a review that reviews them
, a database that writers use to sort through them
, and agents who comb through them
looking for the next literary sensation. Perhaps only print journals are in real trouble
She sat zazen, concentrating on not concentrating, until it was time to prepare for the appointment. Sitting seemed to produce the usual serenity, put everything in perspective. Her hand did not tremble as she applied her make-up; tranquil features looked back at her from the mirror. She was mildly surprised, in fact, at just how calm she was, until she got out of the hotel elevator at the garage level and the mugger made his play. She killed him instead of disabling him. Which was obviously not a measured, balanced action--the official fuss and paperwork could make her late. Annoyed at herself, she stuffed the corpse under a shiny new Westinghouse roadable whose owner she knew to be in Luna, and continued on to her own car. This would have to be squared later, and it would cost. No help for it--she fought to regain at least the semblance of tranquillity as her car emerged from the garage and turned north. Nothing must interfere with this meeting, or with her role in it. "Melancholy Elephants,"
an enthralling, Hugo Award-winning short story by Spider Robinson about a disciplined operative, a powerful senator, and a crucial mission to preserve humanity's most precious resource. (some spoilers inside) [more inside]
Crime fiction is a magnifying glass that reveals the fingerprints of history
. From Holmes and Poirot to Montalbano and the rise of Scandi-noir, Mark Lawson investigates the long tradition of European super-sleuths and their role in turbulent times
. [more inside]
The universe (which others call The Twitter) is composed of every word
in the English language; Shakespeare's folios
, line-by-line-by-line; the Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
, exploded; Constantine XI
, in 140 character chunks; Sun Tzu's Art of War
, in its entirety; the chapter headings of JG Ballard
, in abundance; and definitive discographies
of Every. Artist. Ever...
All this, I repeat
, is true, but one hundred forty characters of inalterable wwwtext
cannot correspond to any language, no matter how dialectical or rudimentary it may be. [more inside]
, pioneering cultural historian and author of From Dawn to Decadence
, has died at the age of 104
. [more inside]
During the reign of Constantine the Great, the Roman senator and poet Publilius Optatianus Porphyrius was sent into exile for crimes unknown. He succeeded in regaining favor and his good name by composing a series of poems in praise of the emperor which looked
like nothing else
. His poetry was an evolution of the Greek tradition of pattern poetry
, but he took it a much more complex level, as Arrigo Lora Totino explains
. In an illustrated article, John Stephan Edwards goes through the poetry of Porphyrius
, showing the evolution of his craft.
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]
Flannery O'Connor Soundboard.
Based on audio snippets of O'Connor reading from "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" (previously
) and from her lecture "Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction."
Wickets and Wonders: Cricket’s Rich Literary Vein
- a meditation on the literary history of cricket, and a few of the more well-known books surrounding gigaioggie
On the day he turned thirty-eight, Michel Eyquem de Montaigne
retired from public life to the tower of the Château de Montaigne
, there to spend the next ten years composing an assay
of his life's experience. That his mind might thrive, he turned the tower into a "Solitarium"
and its top floor into a sumptuous library
, lining its round walls with some 1,500 books
. Even the roof beams were made to bear his thoughts: on them he inscribed 46 quotations, here
collected and translated.
has been awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature
. A Chinese novelist, born as Guan Moye, his pen name means "don't speak." His most famous novel, Red Sorghum: A Novel of China
, was turned into an acclaimed film
in 1987. Here are some interviews with Mo Yan: Granta
, National Endowment for the Humanities
and Paper Republic
. Speculation was rife in China before the announcement whether Mo Yan would receive it, and the matter was controversial
. For people who haven't read any books by Mo Yan, the Swedish Academy recommends Garlic Ballads [NYT]
. For more news over the day, keep an eye on The Literary Saloon
and The Guardian's liveblog
John D. Fitzgerald
had written three fictionalized memoirs
of his family's life in the late 19th-century Utah west before the night he happened to regale a group of friends with childhood stories of his money-crazed brother, Tom. At their urging, he crafted a funny and clever
series of children's books
chronicling the adventures of The Great Brain
. Like countless other readers, the blogger and researcher behind Finding Fitzgerald
(and its companion blog
and Facebook page
) has been fascinated with discovering the real settings and stories behind the books. And the truly committed can even watch Jimmy Osmond in the 1978 film adaptation
It was on a Monday, April second - I was cruising in the vicinity of Betelgeuse - when a meteor no larger than a lima bean pierced the hull, shattered the drive regulator and part of the rudder, as a result of which the rocket lost all maneuverability. [more inside]
Pity the Billionaire
(YT): Thomas Frank
discusses how the American right pulled off a massive coup and successfully branded itself the party of rebellion and protest in the wake of the financial crisis.
Tapes on Books:
Mixtape soundtracks for beloved classics. Some obvious ("Runaway" by Del Shannon for Ralph Macchio's escape after stabbing Johnny Cade in The Outsiders
), some clever ("If You Got the Money" by Lefty Frizzell as Daisy Buchanan's theme song in The Great Gatsby
), with witty rationales throughout ("If Sauron's evil flaming eye was actually a evil flaming mouth, then it would sing with Lemmy’s voice").
They were alive and they spoke to me! That is the simplest and most eloquent way in which I can refer to those authors who have remained with me over the years.
- Henry Miller, The Books In My Life [more inside]
. "I hope you may enjoy these glimpses at some of the long-gone poets and literary figures, etc., in the form of scratchy old movies, as if they had been filmed by candle light."
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]
In [a series of notes to Noel Moore, the oft-sickly son of her former governess], Potter punctuates her words with small, sweet illustrations: 'I have come a very long way in a puff-puff …' (next to a train), a straightforward, 'Here are some rabbits throwing snow balls,' and, of course, Peter’s debut in a special dispatch from 1893.
- Beatrix Potter’s Picture Letters, The Birthplace Of Peter Rabbit [more inside]
An “Infinite Jest” atlas.
The Infinite Atlas Project is an independent research and art project seeking to identify, place and describe every possible location in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. The project includes: Infinite Map
- a cartographic infographic poster identifying 250 of the most interesting locations from the novel. Infinite Boston
-a ruminative travelogue and photographic tour of key locations in and around Boston, Massachusetts. [Previously]
The Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure
: poignant tales of the justly obscure. The entry on Hans Kafka
is a good starting point.
The only authenticated photgraph of Emily Dickinson
is of a 16 year old girl. Amherst College now believes that a privately owned daguerrotype shows the poet as a 28 year old woman
- about the time she wrote the "Master" letters
Historical versions of Aesop's fables - text and pictures -
collected by Laura Gibbs. She gives thousands of historic texts in English, Latin, and Greek, but even better, has Flickr sets of the historic illustrations
(that page is sorted by artist) from editions by Rackham, Caldecott, and other artists going back to the 1400s. [more inside]
Are the verbal pignuts nipping at thine clay-brained heels yet again? Does your dankish, knotty-ated mind quiver at scouring the bard's
for suitable defense? Then attend thee to the Shakespeare Insult Kit
, where all manner of creations await your dullish wit
Clayton Cubitt's Hysterical Literature
is a video project where women seem to reach orgasm simply by reading a favorite passage from a book. Session 1 features alt-porn star Stoya
reading Supervert's "Necrophilia Variations
", while session 2
features Alicia reading Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass
". Stoya's thoughts on the project
, and Supervert's thoughts
. (all NSFW)
is an ‘online compendium of 383 public-domain essays.’ [more inside]
Cynthia Ozick on Henry James: The Lesson of the Master: ...in earlier days I felt I had been betrayed by Henry James. I was like the youthful writer in “The Lesson of the Master” who believed in the Master’s call to live immaculately, unspoiled by what we mean when we say “life”—relationship, family mess, distraction, exhaustion, anxiety, above all disappointment.
Akhmatova's work ranges from short lyric poems to intricately structured cycles, such as Requiem (1935–40), her tragic masterpiece about the Stalinist terror. Her style, characterised by its economy and emotional restraint, was strikingly original and distinctive to her contemporaries. The strong and clear leading female voice struck a new chord in Russian poetry. Her writing can be said to fall into two periods – the early work (1912–25) and her later work (from around 1936 until her death), divided by a decade of reduced literary output. Her work was condemned and censored by Stalinist authorities and she is notable for choosing not to emigrate, and remaining in Russia, acting as witness to the atrocities around her. [more inside]
Curious about poetry, but don't know where or how to begin? We've reprinted the first chapter from the book "How to Read a Poem" by Edward Hirsch. Its 16 sections provide strategies for reading poems, and each section has plenty of links to examples of poems in our archive to illustrate the points.
Farewell Pushcart Queen: Jean Merrill has passed away from cancer
. Many of her 30 books were young adult stories which followed underdogs in conflict with powerful interests. Her most well-known books were The Pushcart War
, about a confrontation between New York pushcarts and the trucking industry, and The Toothpaste Millionaire
, about a young African American entrepreneur who challenges big business. (previously
) [more inside]
“The beast sets me riddles
every evening, and when I fail to guess them, it kicks and bites me. It is like a small leopard and in other circumstances I should say it looked quite charming. So far I haven't solved a single one of these riddles…”—Michal Ajvaz
. [more inside]