Rise of the Neuronovel.
Marco Roth at N+1 argues that the recent interest of contemporary novels (Motherless Brooklyn
, Atmospheric Disturbances
) in the disordered wetware of their characters represents a defeat for fiction. "...the new genre of the neuronovel, which looks on the face of it to expand the writ of literature, appears as another sign of the novel’s diminishing purview." Jonah Lehrer responds to Roth and Roth responds back.
posted by escabeche
on Jan 2, 2011 -
is perhaps the finest author in contemporary science fiction -- and the most rarefied.
A technical writer by trade and a graduate of the distinguished Clarion Writers Workshop
, Chiang has published only twelve short stories in the last twenty years, one dozen masterpieces of the genre whose insightful, precise, often poetic language confronts fundamental ideas -- intelligence, consciousness, the nature of God -- and thrusts them into a dazzling new light.
Click inside for a complete listing of Chiang's work, with links to online reprints or audio recordings where available, as well as a collection of one-on-one interviews, links to his nonfiction essays, and a few other related sites and articles. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi
on Dec 27, 2010 -
Twelve Tales of Christmas
is a podcast just launched
by The Guardian featuring notable modern authors, such as Jeanette Winterson, Ali Smith, Colm Toíbin and Julian Barnes, reading one of their favorite short stories, by authors including JG Ballard, Katherine Mansfield, Italo Calvino, Ernest Hemingway and Raymond Carver. A story will be posted daily for the next 12 days. The first author and story is Philip Pullman reading The Beauties by Anton Chekhov
). [rss, iTunes]
posted by Kattullus
on Dec 10, 2010 -
is a new, free community and platform for young people to share their fiction writing, "connect with other readers and discover new stories and authors. Users are invited to write novels, short stories and poems, collaborate
with other writers and give and receive feedback on the work posted on the site." (Via
posted by zarq
on Dec 5, 2010 -
They think of me as a scholar, an intellectual, a pen-pusher. And I am none of them. When I write, my fingers get covered not in ink but in blood. I think I am nothing more than this: an undaunted soul. [more inside]
posted by Joe Beese
on Nov 24, 2010 -
James Frey (previously
) wants to create the next Harry Potter
sensation. And he's hiring an army of anonymous starving authors
to write it for him under somewhat unusual terms
. Veteran publishing attorney Conrad Rippy said he's never seen anything like it:
It’s an agreement that says, “You’re going to write for me. I’m going to own it. I may or may not give you credit. If there is more than one book in the series, you are on the hook to write those too, for the exact same terms, but I don’t have to use you. In exchange for this, I’m going to pay you 40 percent of some amount you can’t verify — there’s no audit provision — and after the deduction of a whole bunch of expenses.”
posted by scalefree
on Nov 12, 2010 -
Arthur Rimbaud Documentary [via pb]
is an impressionistic tour of Rimbaud's life, from a provincial upbringing, through his teenage poetic revolution, to his world travels and moderately successful business career in the Horn of Africa, featuring contemporary photographs, some taken by Rimbaud, and readings by Joan Baez. His poems (English translations
, French, with some translated into English
, earlier translations, with French originals
) were fundamental in overthrowing the established traditions of writing and his personal story has long been an inspiration to those who chafe under the strictures of society. Ruth Franklin wrote about the whole arc of Rimbaud's life
in The New Yorker, while Edmund White focuses on Rimbaud's bull-in-a-china-shop entrance into fellow poet Paul Verlaine's bourgeois existence
in The Guardian. You can also read earlier biographical writings on Rimbaud
, including his sister Isabelle's hagiographic account
. Rimbaud's poetry has been set to music, perhaps most notably by electronic musician Hector Zazou and chansonnier Léo Ferré (links to music below the cut). [more inside]
posted by Kattullus
on Nov 7, 2010 -
Mr. Vonnegut talked about my dad a lot and put him into a lot of his books. Sometimes he was Dad, and sometimes he was just a character Mr. Vonnegut made up. So what I would say to any of you who are wondering is this: My dad was what people called a real character, which always made us laugh because it was so literally true owing to his association with a famous fiction writer. He could also get pretty obnoxious. But he was a good man. And he definitely wasn’t crazy. At least not until the brain tumor.
Kurt Vonnegut Didn't Know Doodly-Squat About Writing: Finally, Literary Analysis Worth Reading
by Bernard V. O'Hare, with an introduction by Meghan O'Hare.
posted by shakespeherian
on Nov 3, 2010 -
offers up a splendid enchanting 598
page behometh anthology of interviews, features and book reviews taken from the last 15 years of this wonderfully eclectic magazine (Direct PDF
) . Nicely formatted and with enough content to keep even the most avid britlit fan happy. Highlights include interviews with (among many others) Will Self
(p451,460,464,467) , JG Ballard
(p27,32,35, 39), Iain Banks
(p54), Nick Hornby
posted by numberstation
on Oct 22, 2010 -
Nonetheless, like the man in the parable, we ultimately come back to our faith in the law. In the coming weeks, a court-appointed group will finish inventorying the remaining boxes, as well as the contents of the Spinoza Street apartment. It’s only a matter of time before the list is made public and most of the materials find their way to one archive or another. The last doorkeeper out of the way, we’ll be as close to Kafka as we’re ever going to get.
posted by Houyhnhnm
on Sep 24, 2010 -
This is all rooted in a vision I had, of William S. Burroughs as a CIA agent, and Philip K. Dick as his young henchman, going head-to-head with notorious gangster and pervert Adolf Hitler somewhere in Hamburg to find out where Hitler is shipping all the computers he can get his hands on.
- In another world Charles Stross wrote this sprawling work
of Alternate History
instead of the Merchant Princes
books. Fictional books are of course themselves a common them in Alternative History stories, from The Grasshopper Lies Heavy in The Man in the High Castle
to Adolf Hitlers pulp novel Lord of the Swastika
in The Iron Dream
. Stanisław Lem was particularly enamoured with the idea of the fictional book, and wrote two volumes of reviews and introductions for them, lovingly described here
by Bruce Sterling.
posted by Artw
on Sep 23, 2010 -
"He sits at a table and spins his yarn, his only requisites being a small stick, the so-called 'wakening-rod' xingmu (in Yangzhou storytelling called 'talking stopper' zhiyu), a handkerchief and a fan."
A comprehensive guide to the art and tradition of Chinese Storytelling
— with photographs, text, audio and video clips illustrating elements of performance.
posted by unliteral
on Sep 21, 2010 -
In the final pages of his book, drawing up the merits of programme writing, McGurl ultimately falls back on the one thing the programme really does teach: technique. Countering Eliot’s dictum that ‘art never improves,’ he proposes that literature might, rather, resemble technology or sport, in which ‘systematic investments of capital over time have produced a continual elevation of performance.’ Hasn’t ‘the tremendous expansion of the literary talent pool’ and its systematic training in the ‘self-conscious attention to craft’ resulted in ‘a system-wide rise in the excellence of American literature in the postwar period’? It has. If you take ‘good writing’ as a matter of lucidity, striking word combinations, evocative descriptions, inventive metaphors, smooth transitions and avoidance of word repetition, the level of American writing has skyrocketed in the postwar years. In technical terms, pretty much any MFA graduate leaves Stendhal in the dust. On the other hand, The Red and the Black is a book I actually want to read. Get a Real Degree
by Elif Batuman is a critique of creative writing workshops and a review of Mark McGurl's The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing
. Louis Menand wrote a review of the same in The New Yorker which was both more appreciative of the book and creative writing programs. It was discussed previously on MetaFilter.
posted by Kattullus
on Sep 14, 2010 -
‘We feel that the stories in this book are such that if your nerves are not of the strongest, then it is wise to read them in daylight.'
For a certain time, in every second-hand bookshop in the UK you would always be able to find a musty and dog-eared copy of one or more of the Pan Books Of Horror Stories
edited by the splendidly named Herbert Van Thal. Now the first is being re-printed
. [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry
on Sep 8, 2010 -
Snippets of poetry from the Imperium; a sample folk tale from the Oral History; brief biographies of over a dozen Duncan Idahos; two differing approaches to Paul Muad'Dib himself and to his son Leto II; Fremen recipes; Fremen history; secrets of the Bene Gesserit; the songs of Gurney Halleck -- these are just some of the treasures found when an earthmover fell into the God Emperor's no-room at Dar-es-Balat.
Out of print for more than two decades, disavowed by Frank Herbert's estate, and highly sought-after by fans, the legendary Dune Encyclopedia
is now available online as a fully illustrated and searchable PDF [direct link]
. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi
on Sep 1, 2010 -
Best selling authors Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult speak out
about how the New York Times treats "chick lit": "when a man writes about family and feelings, it's literature with a capital L, but when a woman considers the same topics, it's romance, or a beach book - in short, it's something unworthy of a serious critic's attention." [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen
on Aug 26, 2010 -
This year is the 40th anniversary
of the publication of Deliverance
. "Dickey wrote about men, neither dudes nor (although they were fathers) dads. The men in “Deliverance” meet real monsters and recognize their ability to become, in Dickey’s phrase, countermonsters."
posted by Xurando
on Aug 24, 2010 -
The 2010 Booker longlist is out,
and it seems that most of the buzz in the UK is about who's not
on the list. The Guardian article "Amis-free Booker prize longlist promises to 'entertain and provoke'
" introducing the list of 13 nominees actually devotes its headline, subhead, and most of the first four paragraphs to the subject of who's missing in action: Amis, McEwan, Rushdie. Elsewhere in the Guardian Books section, research professor Gabriel Josipovici pulls no punches in including these (former?) darlings of the glitterati in his assertion that Feted British authors are limited, arrogant and self-satisfied
, compares them to "prep-school boys showing off," calls them "virtually indistinguishable from one another in scope and ambition," and muses that the fact that they have won so many awards is "a mystery." [more inside]
posted by taz
on Jul 29, 2010 -