Prominent Authors Face Backlash Over Letter to UBC Over Steven Galloway Firing [Toronto Star] “A rift in Canada’s literary community has deepened after dozens of prominent authors called for an independent investigation into the University of British Columbia’s firing of Steven Galloway. Joseph Boyden wrote and circulated an open letter [UBC Accountable], signed by Margaret Atwood, Yann Martel and others, which raised concerns the university’s process to investigate “serious allegations” against Galloway was secretive and unfair. Galloway, who was chairman of the school’s creative writing program, was fired in June. The letter has sparked an online backlash, with former students who say they witnessed misconduct by Galloway and outside observers expressing concerns it would silence and intimidate complainants.” [more inside]
Laurie Scheck's "Dostoevsky’s Empathy" and Maria R. Bloshteyn's "Rage and Revolt: Dostoevsky and Three African-American Writers": two engaging articles made available online this week to commemorate Dostoevsky's birthday.
Lionel Shriver delivered the keynote address for the 54th edition of the Brisbane Writers Festival titled Fiction and Identity Politics addressing cultural appropriation in fiction writing. [more inside]
Here is a list of things that I am including in this book. Please send me my seven-figure advance.
- affluent family lives in suburb. The husband (who is a professor but also a novelist) is cheating on his wife, but he thinks it falls into a moral gray area because he is a Great Man
This year, Somaliland is celebrating its silver jubilee (though there are concerns and disappointments), and recently held its 9th annual Hargeysa International Book Fair in the (unrecognized) country's capital. The theme this year was leadership, and its connection to art, culture, and creativity. HIBF is the biggest annual event in Somaliland, drawing 11,000 attendees this year, it's an advertisement for a republic that showcases itself as a kind of "anti-Somalia." [more inside]
The Many Ways The Media Gets Around Saying [Groin] By Kyle Wagner [FiveThirtyEight] It’s the oldest laugh in sports: Some poor schmoe takes a sports ball to the crotch, keels over and, once we’re reasonably sure no lasting damage has been done, the TV announcers deadpan some dad jokes while the camera pans around to giggling teammates. It’s as much a familiar sports yuk as other not-all-that-uncommon oddities, like a field player on the mound or the fat guy touchdown, only with funnier GIFs. At least, that’s how things work when the hit comes in a relatively low-stakes setting. But what happens when the stakes are raised? And just as important, when reporters are forced to write about sportsmen kicking each other in the nuts, what do they write? This week has provided some answers.
“To Become Louder, Even Still”: Responses to Sexual Violence in Literary Spaces Apogee Journal has collected fourteen responses from writers to sexual violence perpetrated in the literary community. [more inside]
23 Ways To Celebrate Black History Month In Style (Hannah Giorgis for Buzzfeed)
The Rumpus is not of the same world as The Huffington Post, and therein lies the problem with this conversation: somewhere along the line, in an important and valuable attempt to be pay writers better, the issue of what any given publication could legitimately afford was thrown out the window. Paying writers = the right side of history, period. If you don’t have the financial backing of venture capital or a man with a lot of money, you shouldn’t even exist. Your continued dedication to existence is in fact offensive to the very writers you claim to nurture. [...] I’m sensitive to this issue as a website that was unable to pay most of its writers from our inception in 2009 until late 2013. We didn’t have the money to pay them, that’s just a fact. The money did not exist, we could not summon it from the sky; we’re lesbians, we inherently lack rich husbands. Maybe that means we should’ve given up, I’m not sure, but that makes me really frightened for the future of independent journalism by and for populations even more disenfranchised than our own. How can we advocate for both disenfranchised writers and disenfranchised publishers? Because the thing is… Not paying your writers SUCKS.- Autostraddle: The “Who Pays Writers” Conversation Needs a Little Nuance
What books should a critic own? "Each week, the National Book Critics Circle will post a list of five books a critic believes reviewers should have in their libraries." Here are all the lists, from 2007-2011. [more inside]
Welcome to Bloom — a literary site devoted to highlighting, profiling, reviewing, and interviewing authors whose first major work was published when they were age 40 or older. Bloom is also a community of artists and readers who believe that “late” is a relative term, not an absolute one, and who are interested in bringing to attention a wide variety of artistic paths — challenging any narrow, prevailing ideas about the pacing and timing of creative fruition. (via Ask)
For Such a Time, the first work by author Kate Breslin was an obscure romance novel..until it was nominated for two RITA awards by the Romance Writers of America. The ensuing publicity storm has exposed serious rifts in the industry group, and has started a major discussion about problematic themes in romance fiction. This is because the story, a retelling of the Story of Esther, set durng the Holocaust, is part of a subgere of romances set in concentration camps. In brief, a young woman is saved by a concentration camp commandant, and uses her relationship with him to try to save some people, while drawing faith from the New Testament. The controversy centers of over the sympathetic portrayal of the Nazi commandant, and the conversion of the heroine to Christianity. [more inside]
"Maybe the story is the difference between the writers on the panels and the writers in the audience. That story is the creation of a celebrity class. That story is the fine line between jealousy and envy: I want everything you have versus I want everything I can have. Or is the story simply vanity?" Choire Sicha of the Awl reports on (and attempts to schmooze through) the two-day New Yorker literary festival
The State of Comic Book Retail - David Harper's latest comics industry survey shows bricks and mortar comic stores to be in a surprising period of opportunity and change. But are there now too many comics?
Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview [The Millions]
If you like to read, we’ve got some news for you. The second-half of 2015 is straight-up, stunningly chock-full of amazing books. The list that follows isn’t exhaustive — no book preview could be — but, at 9,100 words strong and encompassing 82 titles, this is the only second-half 2015 book preview you will ever need. Scroll down and get started.[more inside]
"Although it has been said that every person is the hero of their own life story, it is more accurate to say that every person is the underdog of their own life story." Why southern gothic rules the world [SLGuardian], MO Walsh
From plitter to drabbletail: a few writers choose the words they love. [The Guardian] [Books]
Dialect terms such as yokeymajig or whiffle-whaffle; all-time favourites like cochineal, clot or eschew; antiquated phrases such as ‘playing the giddy ox’ … leading writers on the words they cherish.[more inside]
"The life-changing message of 'On Writing Well' is: simplify your language and thereby find your humanity." William Zinsser, journalist and nonfiction writer, passed away earlier this month. His book, "On Writing Well," is one of the definitive works on the craft of writing. [more inside]
In writing class after writing class, I see time and again how the question of talent haunts the young, who come to class hoping to make it into that anointed group—those who publish to glory young. [But] the question of age haunts my older students more than talent.[more inside]
Dancing with Cannibals is an historical novel available as an ebook. From the Mefi Projects description page: "Never before has there been a novel about the genocide in the Congo Free State written in English by an African writer. Dancing with Cannibals would seem to have been influenced by Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (which is also set in the Congo during the Belgian regime) and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, but Dicho Ilunga has not read either of those books. Ilunga’s writing is largely absent a European context. Ilunga describes his literary training as coming from the Zairian writers that he read in school and from two novels by Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho who Ilunga says has an African style." [more inside]
The Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature at the Library of Congress dates back to 1943, when Allen Tate was Consultant in Poetry. It contains nearly two thousand recordings—of poets and prose writers participating in literary events at the Library’s Capitol Hill campus as well as sessions at the Library’s Recording Laboratory. Highlights from the collection include: Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood, Ray Bradbury, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Mario Vargas Llosa, Rita Dove, Elizabeth Bishop, Gwendolyn Brooks, W.S. Merwin, Sandra Cisneros, Amy Clampitt, Robert Pinsky , and Miłosz, Czesław, among many others. [more inside]
Günter Grass, German Novelist and Social Critic, Dies at 87 [New York Times]
Günter Grass, the German novelist, social critic and Nobel Prize winner whom many called his country’s moral conscience but who stunned Europe when he revealed in 2006 that he had been a member of the Waffen-SS during World War II, died on Monday. He was 87.Previously. [more inside]
"Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, was thus a foremother of feminism. She was also a war reporter, a pedagogue, a spiritual quester, a radical republican, a single mother, a passionate & taboo-breaking lover. Her story is ripe for the telling. This blog gathers anecdotes, freelance research, resources, and news of current projects..." A Vindication of the Rights of Mary | Mary | The blog | Me
One day in February 1945, in Paris, George Orwell waited at the café Deux Magots, where he was to meet Albert Camus for the first time."The Meeting That Never Was", an essay by Matthew Lamb in the LA Review of Books. [more inside]
Sam Simon, writer, producer, philanthropist and co-creator of The Simpsons has passed away of colorectal cancer at the age of 59. Previously.
The Struggle To Be A Good Critic [Electric Literature] How should or shouldn't white writers write POC characters?
On Edgar Allan Poe by Marilynne Robinson [New York Review of Books]
"Edgar Allan Poe was and is a turbulence, an anomaly among the major American writers of his period, an anomaly to this day. He both amazed and antagonized his contemporaries, who could not dismiss him from the ﬁrst rank of writers, though many felt his work to be morally questionable and in dubious taste, and though he scourged them in print regularly in the course of producing a body of criticism that is sometimes ﬂatly vindictive and often brilliant.
Céline Unveils Its Latest Poster Girl: Joan Didion [New York Times]
“I don’t have any clue,” said the 80-year-old author of well-thumbed classics such as “The White Album,” “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” and “The Year of Magical Thinking,” reached by telephone on Wednesday at her Upper East Side residence (where the photo, by Juergen Teller, was taken). “I have no idea.” Whose idea was this? “They got in touch with me,” Ms. Didion said, as crisp as one of Phoebe Philo’s cotton tunics."[The Céline ad featuring Joan Didion.] [more inside]
"Much has been said about the storytelling techniques of 'Serial,' which comes out in weekly installments even as the show’s host, Sarah Koenig, reinvestigates the conviction of a Baltimore-area teenager for the murder of his ex-girlfriend. The serialized approach teases its audience with cliffhangers, prompts its listeners to construct their own theories and invites outsiders to glimpse the tricky winnowing process of reporting. But 'Serial' also testifies to how much the criminal justice system itself is founded on storytelling." (Laura Miller, Salon: The new "In Cold Blood" revisionism: Why it doesn't matter if Capote’s classic wasn't fully true) [more inside]
Phyllis Dorothy James, Baroness James of Holland Park, OBE, FRSA, FRSL, best known as crime writer P.D. James, died today at the age of 94.
The following conversation took place in 2005 in front of an audience at the Telluride film festival in Colorado, after a screening of Martin Scorsese’s documentary, Bob Dylan: No Direction Home.
Holiday’s urbane, martini-loving editor, Ted Patrick, and visionary art director, Frank Zachary, gave postwar America a passport to the glamour of travel, packing the magazine with big-name talent: Hemingway, Steinbeck, Kerouac, Cartier-Bresson, Steichen, et al. But, in 1964, tragedy would ground their flight. [more inside]
17 Brilliant Short Novels You Can Read in a Sitting by Lincoln Michel at Electric Literature:
This week author Ian McEwan expressed his love of short novels, saying “very few [long] novels earn their length.” Certainly it seems like a novel has to be a minimum of 500 pages to win a major literary award these days, and many genre novels have ballooned to absurd sizes.[more inside]
I love a good tome, but like McEwan many of my favorite novels are sharpened little gems. It’s immensely satisfying to finish a book in a single day, so in the spirit of celebrating quick reads here are some of my favorite short novels. I’ve tried to avoid the most obvious titles that are regularly assigned in school (The Stranger, Heart of Darkness, Mrs Dalloway, Of Mice and Men, Frankenstein, The Crying of Lot 49, etc.). Hopefully you’ll find some titles here you haven’t read before.
Damien Walter presents 21 of the best British sci-fi (sic) writers of 2014 you probably haven't heard of.
Things That Don't Suck, Some Notes on The Stand
[Spoiler alert: assume everything, from the link above to those below, contains SPOILERS.] [more inside]
I recently reread The Stand for no particular reason other than I felt like it. I'm honestly not sure how many time[s] I've read it at this point, more than three, less than a half dozen (though I can clearly remember my first visit to that horrifyingly stripped bare world as I can remember the first reading of all the truly great King stories). It's not my favorite of King's work, but it is arguably his most richly and completely imagined. It truly is the American Lord of The Rings, with the concerns of England (Pastorialism vs. Industrialism, Germany's tendency to try and blow it up every thirty years or so) replaced by those of America (Religion, the omnipresent struggle between our liberal and libertarian ideals, our fear of and dependence on the military, racial and gender tension) and given harrowing size.
I'm happy to say that The Stand holds up well past the bounds of nostalgia and revisiting the world and these characters was as pleasurable as ever. But you can't step in the same river twice, even when you're revisiting a favorite book. Even if the river hasn't changed you have. This isn't meant as any kind of comprehensive essay on The Stand. Just a couple of things I noticed upon dipping my toes in the river this time.
[Spoiler alert: assume everything, from the link above to those below, contains SPOILERS.] [more inside]
Trans women writers Jeanne Thornton, Imogen Binnie, Red Durkin and Casey Plett read from their recent works for Talks at Google. [more inside]
Looking for American recipes to take to tonight's 4th of July party? It's easy to find historic recipes. But why not look to America's great fiction writers instead? [more inside]
World's best-selling author James Patterson on how to write an unputdownable story. Interview with James Patterson. 'Patterson recently earned the distinction of being the best-selling author since 2001. Just to be clear, one of the author's books wasn't merely declared "the #1 bestseller," a blurb that pops up on front covers regularly. Rather, James Patterson is the top selling author in the world for the last 14 years. An estimated one out of every 17 hardcover novels purchased in the United States is his, dwarfing the sales of both Harry Potter and the sparkly Twilight vampires.' [more inside]
Come on in and sit down. I wanna talk to you about trains for a minute. That's pretty much it. Still chuckling...
"Certainly, there appears to be a large correlation between artists and depression. But I would argue that artistic expression is not a symptom of depression so much as a response to it. I see writing as an act of resistance against an occupying enemy who means to kill me. It’s why I’m writing this now." YA author Libba Bray on living with depression.
Mavis Gallant, one of finest writers in English of the 20th century, has died. Gallant was 91, and had been suffering from osteoporosis for many years. [more inside]
Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators "Over the years, I developed a theory about why writers are such procrastinators: We were too good in English class. This sounds crazy, but hear me out."
“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.” The daily routines of famous writers. [more inside]