2013 had a lot of great longform writing. Longreads
lead the way with their best of
Lots of sites provided year end lists: The American Prospect
, The Atlantic
, Business Week Buzz
, The Daily Beast
, Dazed Digital
, Esquire UK
, Impose Magazine
, i09, Lifehacker
, Mother Jones
, National Geographic
, National Journal
, The New Yorker
, On Earth
, The Electric Typewriter
, The Verge
, The Voice Media Group
, and The Washington Post. [more inside]
When I published my first novel 20 years later, I found myself faced with the same challenge: how do I talk about this book to people whose entire conception of science fiction and fantasy are built around Star Wars and The Hobbit? How do I convince folks that stories about the dissolution of a marriage in Montreal in 2155 are just as serious an endeavor as writing about the dissolution of a marriage in Montreal 1955?
The Writer As Reader: Melville and his Marginalia In the General Rare Books Collection at Princeton University Library sits a stunning two-volume edition of John Milton that once belonged to Herman Melville. Melville's tremendous debt to Milton — and to Homer, Virgil, the Bible, and Shakespeare — might be evident to anyone who has wrestled with the moral and intellectual complexity that lends Moby Dick its immortal heft, but to see Melville's marginalia in his 1836 Poetical Works of John Milton is to understand just how intimately the author of the great American novel engaged with the author of the greatest poem in English. Checkmarks, underscores, annotations, and Xs reveal the passages in Paradise Lost and other poems that would have such a determining effect on Melville's own work.
With cities, it is as with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, its reverse, a fear. Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.
December 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of Invisible Cities
-- the sublime metaphysical travelogue by author-journalist Italo Calvino
. In a series of pensive dialogues with jaded emperor Kublai Khan
, the explorer Marco Polo
describes a meandering litany of visionary and impossible places, dozens of surreal, fantastical cities
, each poetically reifying ideas vital to language, philosophy, and the human spirit. This gracefully written love letter to urban life has inspired countless tributes
, but it's just the most accessible of Calvino's fascinating literary catalogue. Look inside for a closer look at his most remarkable works, links to English translations of his magical prose, and collections of artistic interpretations from around the web -- including this treasure trove of essays, excerpts, articles, and recommended reading
. [more inside]
Conceived as sort of a companion to Longreads, Longform, Pocket, Byliner, etc., Nieman Storyboard's Why's This So Good?
series looks at why
some great long-form journalism and narrative nonfiction pieces are so great. There are over 60 installments of writers talking shop about writing. [more inside]
Picturing Books: What do we see when we read? (Other than words on a page.) What do we picture in our minds?
A consideration by Knopf
's senior designer Peter Mendulsund
. [more inside]
Roger Ebert has discovered the Macmillan Reader's Edition of The Great Gatsby
and he hates it: "This is an obscenity."
Macmillan Reader's Editions are geared to ESL students
. Ebert thinks that's a really bad idea: "Why not have ESL learners begin with Young Adult novels? Why not write books with a simplified vocabulary? Why eviscerate Fitzgerald?" [more inside]
Last August (2009), the "ephemeral artists" of Nothing Happened Here
staged a mobile public reading event
, meandering around the town of San Luis Obispo, CA
with The Reading Chair
, and a group of folks reading a variety of stories, poems and tales
. The group has planned Typing in Public
to take place tomorrow (May 15, 2010), in the same little town. The event is primarily focused on people writing on typewriters
around town, but people can also share comments via Twitter
, or texting the event coordinators. To spark some inspiration, the group has received submissions from a variety of people, including Gerald Casale
, Paul Frommer
writing in Na'vi (with translation to English)
, Dr. James J. Duderstadt
, President Emeritus, University Professor of Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan, writing on the library as the poster child of the it revolution
, and plenty more. [more inside]
It’s only natural that if you wish to present yourself as a well-read person, a certain degree of complete bullshit is required. There’s no shame in lying about what you’ve read. There’s only shame in getting caught. Then you look like a doofus, and an illiterate one at that... How to lie about books
- "The Challenge: Read Infinite Jest over the summer of 2009" [more inside]
Humiliation: Which book are you most embarrassed to admit that you have never read?
Several "respectable" authors answer the question at the Ways With Words festival. (single-link Telegraph post
is a portal for serialized web novels, similar to web comic portals such as Buzz Comix
and Top Web Comics
, if not nearly as fancy. It is a new project by Tales of MU
author Alexandra Erin
. Note: Tales of MU and some of the novels found on Pages Unbound may be NSFW, as they contain explicit material of various sorts. MU, specifically, is concerned with LGBT issues and racism in a fantasy setting.
Online books, poems and short stories.
"Welcome to the Archive of the Now.
The Archive of the Now is an online and print repository of recordings, printed texts and manuscripts, focussing on innovative contemporary poetry being written or performed in Britain. It is part of the Brunel Centre for Contemporary Writing, at Brunel University in west London, UK. At present, the Archive consists of readings by 65 UK-based poets. This number will continue to grow, and includes newly commissioned, recently acquired and historical recordings."
Sequoyah's Cherokee Syllabary
The history of a man who single-handedly invented a new and unique writing system which made the literacy rate of his nation shoot from 0% to 90% in just a few years.
is an enchanting little website that I rediscovered after rediscovering a list of my circa-1995 bookmarks. (And it looks today almost exactly like it did then -- you can even see a bit of Siegel influence) KidPub is a place for children to post their stories, poems, etc. Most of the authors seem to be in the 9- to 12-year-old age range, and the stories have titles like "The Mystery of the Circus Clown
" and "Crazy School
". A cute site to remind you of the importance of reading and writing for children.
Tests show U.S. children lag behind
A careful reading of this page reveals that for many of America's schools, children lag behind some 16 other countries in math and in science. However: not all states contributred data. But the important thing is that a few schools and areas were right up there with the best in the world.
Perhaps then we ought to study those that work instead of bashing our educational system in general.