Kent Haruf, ‘a great writer and a great man’, dies aged 71 [The Guardian]
"Pan Macmillan, Haruf’s UK publisher, said that the novelist died on Sunday 30 November, praising his “beautifully restrained, profoundly felt novels” which it said “reflected a man of integrity, honesty and deep thoughtfulness”."
The gals at Anglo-Filles have an entertaining (and epicly long) talk about the history of Dracula and vampires as characters and symbols throughout the ages and throughout fiction - topics discussed include Varney The Vampire, The Vienna Vampire Scare, Where Does Sunlight Killing Vampires Come From, The Secret Spanish Dracula, and Jonathan Harker As An Abuse Survivor.
The book that helped me understand my son. Author David Mitchell's introduction to The Reason I Jump, a newly-translated memoir by thirteen-year-old Naoki Higashida on what it's like to have autism.
The pseudonymous author behind the critically-acclaimed mystery novel The Cuckoo's Calling has been outed. And it's J. K. Rowling.
In theory: the unread and the unreadable - "We measure our lives with unread books – and 'difficult' works can induce the most guilt. How should we view this challenge?"
Highlighting forgotten, neglected, abandoned, forsaken, unrecognized, unacknowledged, overshadowed, out-of-fashion, under-translated writers.
The author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, a popular MetaFilter topic, was born 177 years ago today (November 30th 1835) in Missouri. The printer, riverboat pilot, game designer, journalist, lecturer, technology investor, gold miner, publisher and patent holder wrote short stories, essays, novels and non-fiction under the pen name Mark Twain. This included The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (recently adapted into a musical), one of the top five challenged books of the 1990s, published in 1884-85 to a mixed reception and with an ending that still causes debate. [more inside]
My 6,128 Favorite Books - "Joe Queenan on how a harmless juvenile pastime turned into a lifelong personality disorder."
The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, went on sale 75 years ago today. The first printing, by Allen & Unwin, was for 1,500 copies (which now fetch a premium at auction); the first reviewer, the son of the publisher, was paid a shilling. Through a contorted publishing history, exact or even approximate sales figures are unknown; "over a hundred million" is often quoted. [more inside]
William Wallace Cook, seeking to help mechanize the art of novel writing, came up with the 1462 possible plots for all stories. He then devised the Plotto system, whereby an author need only consult the book of plots to construct the next best seller.
In the beginning, Lawrence built a computer. He told it, Thou shalt not alter a human being, or divine their behavior, or violate the Three Laws -- there are no commandments greater than these. The machine grew wise, mastering time and space, and soon the spirit of the computer hovered over the earth. It witnessed the misery, toil, and oppression afflicting mankind, and saw that it was very bad. And so the computer that Lawrence built said, Let there be a new heaven and a new earth -- and it was so. A world with no war, no famine, no crime, no sickness, no oppression, no fear, no limits... and nothing at all to do. "The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect," a provocative web novel about singularities, AI gods, and the dark side of utopia from Mefi's own localroger. More: Table of Contents - Publishing history - Technical discussion - Buy a paperback copy - Podcast interview - Companion short story: "A Casino Odyssey in Cyberspace" - possible sequel discussion
Farhad Manjoo of Slate argues that buying books from Amazon is better than buying from local bookstores.
Snuff, Sir Terry Pratchett's 50th book (and 37th Discworld book) will be released in the U.S. tomorrow, and Neil Gaiman has interviewed him for Boing Boing. [more inside]
Before Robert Jordan passed away, he dictated the ending of his Wheel of Time" series. This was just another bump in the rocky saga of the series. [more inside]
Fans of George RR Martin's "The Song of Ice and Fire" series are eagerly awaiting "A Dance With Dragons", the next book. This anticipation has led to hostility from some fans as to Martin's work ethic and the manner in which he spends his personal time.
Have you seen people at library book sales going over all the books with a barcode scanner? One of these folks reveals his methods and discusses his feelings about what he does.
The Best Romance Novel Covers of the year - click on the winner of each category to see the Top Ten and explanations. Also the site doesn't avoid the snark with a worst cover category [The winner is Big Spankable Asses [maybe NSFW]].
The first issue of the comic book adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere was released yesterday. Mr. Gaiman is credited as a "consultant." So far, the story is fairly intact, but it's the visual element that deviates from the novel--characters look nothing like they were described, and don't even resemble the old BBC miniseries. And for someone accustomed to the phenomenal artwork seen in most of Gaiman's previous graphic novels (which included several adaptations of his short stories), Neverwhere seems downright bland. If a feature film follows in the same vein as this adaptation, will Gaiman pull an Alan Moore and refuse all royalties? (Go easy on me; it's my first post.)
"Stone Reader makes you want to pick up a great novel and consume it in one long gulp. It’s a love letter to literature and literacy, a bibliophile’s dream film, dedicated to the joys of fiction and the passions of those who need books like they need food, water and air." (The Dallas Morning News)
Genie Corp: The Splice Of Life. Creature Comforts [via BoingBoing]
Novels in 25 Words or Less: A contest at "I Love Books." Here's one entry: "I'm stupid, I'm smart, I'm wicked smart, I'm wicked wicked smart, I'm stupid again. And I have a mouse called Algernon." Some are funny, some are lame, some aren't novels. Give it a whirl.
If cyberspace were organized into a giant neural computer... [NYT, reg req] ...one could in theory "upload" a person's mental software into it: thoughts, feelings, memories, the works. - an interesting sci-fi premise by author john darnton complete with a contemporary 'mad scientist!'
In Lynne Cheney's rereleased novel, the vice president drops dead of a heart attack while having adulterous sex -- and his scheming wife takes his job.