"Nobody would believe how difficult it is to be the mother of a Wunderkind. Everything I do is wrong; everything the child does is “for effect”; everything we say is utterly untrue. If Vivien runs up to me and kisses me, I hear it murmured that she is trained to do so. (“Whipped to be affectionate in public!”) So I tell her never to do it again. Immediately people remark how cold I am to the child; how the poor little creature evidently fears me and prefers Fräulein Muller.
We take her with her hoop and skipping-rope to play in the park? It is said we make her pretend to be infantine, force her to act the “happy child” when people are looking on! So we take her toys from her and conduct her for prim walks between us. “Poor little unnatural creature!” say our friends: “she has no child-life at all.”
The Devourer and the Devoured
is a long essay by Emily Hogstad
about the intertwined lives of the novelist Annie Vivanti and her daughter Vivien Chartres, a world-famous violin prodigy, at the beginning of the twentieth century.
posted by escabeche
on Apr 29, 2014 -
How Reader's Digest Became a Chinese Stooge
Larkin was delighted when Reader's Digest said it would take her work for one of its anthologies of condensed novels. Thirst would reach a global audience and – who knows? – take off. Reader's Digest promised "to ensure that neither the purpose nor the opinion of the author is distorted or misrepresented", and all seemed well. [more inside]
posted by modernnomad
on Mar 30, 2014 -
. Element: Mud
. Exemplar: The Lion of Belfort
. Element: Water
. Exemplar: Water
. Element: Fire
. Exemplar: The Court of Dragons
. Element: Blood
. Exemplar: Œdipus
. [Certain images NSFW on account of Victorian prurience] [more inside]
posted by Iridic
on Oct 30, 2013 -
, Joyce's famously unreadable masterpiece (read it online here
), was considerably more
readable in one of its earlier drafts.
Watch Joyce cross out decipherable words and replace them with less decipherable ones! Watch him end, not with a whimper, but with a slightly less impressive whimper
! Sadly, Shem's schoolbook
, which in the finished version is a House of Leaves
-esque compendium of side columns and footnotes, was not written until much later
(according to the footnotes of that section). The introduction to this draft by David Hayman, who assembled it, is worth a read
posted by Rory Marinich
on May 20, 2013 -
In 1929, John Galsworthy won a Guardian poll as the novelist most likely to still be read in 2029. Three years later, he won the Nobel Prize, and the prices of his first editions skyrocketed. His reputation has since been on a 80-year wane that shows no signs of abating. The New Yorker asks Why is Literary Fame So Unpredictable?
And who will they be teaching in literature class a century from now?
posted by Horace Rumpole
on May 22, 2012 -
"It all started with wondering what it was really like to be tapped on the shoulder and told that you are the savior of mankind. Ten years of thinking about that, and I began writing.
" He was James Oliver Rigney, Jr.
, a Vietnam vet who went on to get a degree in physics from The Citadel, and was then a nuclear engineer for the US Navy. He put all that behind him and started writing a variety of fantasy novels under various aliases. As Reagan O'Neal, he wrote the Fallon trilogy
of historical fantasy in the early 1980s, which he followed up with a quick series of Conan novels
as Robert Jordan. Under this pen name, he spent a decade planning and four years writing The Eye of the World
, the first book in The Wheel of Time
, an epic storyline in a fantasy world. Jordan had planned out the broad story arc from the beginning to the "final scene in the final book
," but he died before his epic tale could be completed
. A young author, Brandon Sanderson, was chosen by Rigney's wife and editor, Harriet McDougal
, to complete the portions of the tale left as a loose collection of notes. One last book became three, and just last month, the release date of the final book was set: January 8, 2013, in the final month of the Year of the Dragon
. Now that the end is in sight, you might feel the pull of nostalgia to finish the series, or maybe you're interested to see what all this fuss is about. With around 11,000 pages, 635 chapters, and more than four million words, it's a complex, daunting world to (re)enter. Fear not, the internet is here to help. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief
on Mar 10, 2012 -
Since its last*
appearance in the blue, yWriter
has been updated to version 5. Designed specifically for novels
, this freeware "contains no adverts, unwanted web toolbars, desktop search programs or other cruft".
posted by Trurl
on Feb 11, 2012 -
Despite the popularity of long-arc, serialized TV shows, no one really wants to read serialized fiction
, apparently. That's not stopped anyone from trying, though, like say Stephen King with The Green Mile
and The Plant
, semi-successful efforts from a mega-successful author
. That was before the current rise of the ebook, though, and a few authors
) are betting technology will turn serialized novels into the next big
thing, that we're in "the perfect environment for a resurgence.
posted by nospecialfx
on Dec 7, 2011 -
For decades Dawn Powell was always just on the verge of ceasing to be a cult and becoming a major religion. But despite the work of such dedicated cultists as Edmund Wilson and Matthew Josephson, John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway, Dawn Powell never became the popular writer that she ought to have been. In those days, with a bit of luck, a good writer eventually attracted voluntary readers and became popular. Today, of course, "popular" means bad writing that is widely read while good writing is that which is taught to involuntary readers. Powell failed on both counts. She needs no interpretation and in her lifetime she should have been as widely read as, say, Hemingway or the early Fitzgerald or the mid O'Hara or even the late, far too late, Katherine Anne Porter. But Powell was that unthinkable monster, a witty woman who felt no obligation to make a single, much less a final, down payment on Love or The Family; she saw life with a bright Petronian neutrality, and every host at life's feast was a potential Trimalchio to be sent up.
- Gore Vidal
posted by Trurl
on Nov 12, 2011 -
An American writer hasn't won the Nobel Prize for Literature since 1993 (Toni Morrison). Slate's Alexander Nazaryan tells us why
: "The rising generation of writers behind Oates, Roth and DeLillo are dominated by Great Male Narcissists — even the writers who aren’t male (or white)."
posted by bardic
on Oct 4, 2011 -
Gamers, have you ever looked in the sci-fi aisle of your bookstore and wondered how there could possibly be novels set in the worlds of "Gears of War" or "Doom,"
but nothing in the richly imagined distopia of Bioshock
? Have you fed your Art Deco obsession with Ryan-inspired fan fiction
, wishing for something more? Wish no longer: Bram Stoker Award winner, sci-fi novelist, punk rocker, Blue Oyster Cult lyricist, etc. John Shirley
has written the first official BioShock novel, "BioShock: Rapture
," which hit store shelves yesterday. An excerpt of the book, which is a prequel to the first game, is offered here from publisher Tor
. [more inside]
posted by jbickers
on Jul 20, 2011 -
OK, so you've partly written a novel, but you're having trouble finishing the damn thing. What to do? Summon stamina, press on, and be proud of your literary success? Or, post your abandonment for all the world to see! Ladies and gentlemen, a place for your unfini--
posted by anothermug
on Jul 12, 2011 -
"Reading a novel of punishing difficulty and length is a version of climbing Everest for people who prefer not to leave the house. And people who climb Everest don’t howl with exhilaration at the summit because the mountain was a good or a well made or an interesting mountain per se, but because they’re overawed at themselves for having done such a fantastically difficult thing." Mark O'Connell writes about how he overcame his fear of reading very long novels
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear
on May 18, 2011 -
Bad (and some so bad they're good) excerpts from bad romance novels. Includes things like: "And as he ground sinuously against her tender flesh, she began to quake and contract, whimpering with tortured delight. Her senses exploded; her very body seemed to dissolve into a fierce, white-hot blast of elemental heat. And in that boundless, exploding star of pleasure she felt his essence mingle with hers as he buried his face in her hair and erupted, pouring his passion into her soft, responsive frame."
posted by fantodstic
on Apr 16, 2011 -
, the Magazine of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Field, is the paper of record in the science fiction community. Every year the editors and reviewers at Locus publish a recommended reading list which includes novels, YA novels, first novels, anthologies and collections, related non-fiction, art books, and three types of shorter work (novellas
, and short stories). If you are at all interested in the current state of the SF&F genre you can't do better than Locus' yearly effort. The list for 2010
appears in the February issue. [more inside]
posted by Justinian
on Feb 18, 2011 -
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 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 -
Graham Greene, Arthur Ransome and Somerset Maugham all spied for Britain, admits MI6
"The authors Graham Greene, Arthur Ransome, Somerset Maugham, Compton Mackenzie and Malcolm Muggeridge, and the philosopher AJ "Freddie" Ayer, all worked for MI6, Britain's Secret Intelligence Service admitted for the first time today . They are among the many exotic characters who agreed to spy for Britain, mainly during wartime, who appear in a the first authorised history of MI6."
posted by Fizz
on Oct 11, 2010 -