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"Gatsby without greatness"

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]
posted by CCBC on Jul 8, 2011 - 247 comments

The Boy Who Lived Forever - Fanfiction According to Time

Time Magazine's Arts section features a nuanced look at fanfiction this week: Fan fiction is what literature might look like if it were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies trapped in a sealed bunker. [more inside]
posted by grey_sw on Jul 7, 2011 - 75 comments

War is over, Pigs are flying and commas are being removed.

The Oxford writing and style guide no longer advocates the use of the serial/Oxford comma.
posted by The Devil Tesla on Jun 29, 2011 - 419 comments

Lee Tandy Schwartzman's "Crippled Detectives"

As much as any book I know, Crippled Detectives transcribes the dream state, not just in its flights of fancy and logic-jumping juxtapositions, but in the mutating narrative tactics, the topsy-turvy focus (the climax is over in a flash, whereas digressions distend to marvelous effect), and especially the inconsistent point of view... I forgot to mention that Lee Tandy Schwartzman was all of seven years old when she wrote it.
posted by Trurl on Jun 27, 2011 - 14 comments

When they sit next to you, they see possibility.

Anatomy of a Writer. "Like the protagonist of 1984, who risked his life to purchase a notebook and signed it away by filling it with words, writers sometimes find themselves huddled in a corner, crouching onto their guilty pleasure protectively, hoping that their spouse, or friends won’t catch them at it."
posted by Phire on Jun 26, 2011 - 13 comments

Set aside some free time; you're gonna need it

Launching today is Byliner, both a portal to the best narrative nonfiction from around the web, and a publishing platform for original works. Some additional background here.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jun 21, 2011 - 15 comments

The End of the Story

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]
posted by reenum on Jun 20, 2011 - 83 comments

AOHell

One night, I awoke out of a dead sleep, and jumped to my computer, and instantly began typing up an article about David Letterman. I kept going for ten minutes, until I realized I had dreamed it all. There was no article to write; I was simply typing up the same meaningless phrases that we all always used: “LADY GAGA PANTLESS ON LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN,” or some such.

AOL Hell: An AOL Content Slave Speaks Out.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jun 17, 2011 - 126 comments

Spoilers, the web and writing movies

"What I'm asking is this: Are screenwriters now affected by "spoiler culture" before they even begin the writing process? If you know a twist will be unavoidably revealed before the majority of people see the work itself, and if you concede that selling and marketing a film with a major secret will be more complicated for everyone involved … would you even try? Would you essentially stop yourself from trying to write a movie that's structured like The Sixth Sense?" Are Spoilers Flipping the Script?
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jun 17, 2011 - 128 comments

ScriptSource: Pretty much every form of human writing, all documented on one site

Scriptsource: Pretty much every form of human writing, all documented on one site. Simon Ager’s Omniglot.com, which went online circa 1998, documents the many writing systems in use through history and in the present day. Now SIL International’s ScriptSource packs an even more boggling array of information on scripts and writing into one site, drilling all the way down to pages for individual letters.
posted by joeclark on Jun 16, 2011 - 8 comments

Talking Thrillers

Listen to a conversation between legendary American crime novelist Raymond Chandler and James Bond inventor Ian Fleming recorded by the BBC in 1958. The talk ranges from Mafia hits to the nature of villainy to the difference between English and American thriller.
posted by Bookhouse on Jun 12, 2011 - 25 comments

Being able to write is like being the pretty girl at the party

David Mamet discusses free-market economists, studying Kaballah, Aristotle's conception of drama, Tennessee William's expensive habit, and his love for Sarah Palin. Oh, and his HBO movie about Phil Spector (whom he believes is innocent). Previously, previously, and previously.
posted by -->NMN.80.418 on Jun 12, 2011 - 80 comments

Letters to Hoder

Letters to Hoder [via mefi projects]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jun 11, 2011 - 17 comments

Jorge Semprun has died.

Jorge Semprun, author, resistance fighter, Holocaust survivor, has died.
posted by OmieWise on Jun 10, 2011 - 5 comments

Writing and drawing, that is your calling

Incidental Comics — Cartoons about... just stuff.
posted by netbros on Jun 9, 2011 - 9 comments

Character Armour

"There are few more relentlessly tragic and depressing stories in the history of showbusiness than that of Lena Zavaroni."
posted by Potomac Avenue on Jun 8, 2011 - 31 comments

Adventures in the Screentrade

John Cleese interviews William Goldman - part 1, part 2, part 3. (audio only youtube)
posted by Artw on Jun 3, 2011 - 16 comments

Janet Malcolm

The public pillorying of Janet Malcolm is one of the scandals of American letters. ... why is it Malcolm, a virtuoso stylist and a subtle, exciting thinker, who drives critics into a rage? What journalist of her caliber is as widely disliked or as often accused of bad faith? And why did so few of her colleagues stand up for her during the circus of a libel trial that scarred her career? In the animus toward her there is something almost personal. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Jun 1, 2011 - 27 comments

A ghost in a real setting

Running seems to allow me, ideally, an expanded consciousness in which I can envision what I'm writing as a film or a dream. I rarely invent at the typewriter but recall what I've experienced. --Celebrated author Joyce Carol Oates on the connection between writing and running.
posted by crackingdes on May 28, 2011 - 11 comments

@Poldy: Yes

This is not an attempt to tweet mindlessly the entire contents of Ulysses, word-for-word, 140 characters at a time. That would be dull and impossible. What is proposed here is a recasting or a reimagining of the reading experience of this novel, start to finish, within the confines of a day-long series of tweets from a global volunteer army of Joyce-sodden tweeps. (previously!)
posted by Trurl on May 25, 2011 - 17 comments

Wolgamot

"It's harder than you think to write a sentence that doesn't say anything." The quest to find and understand the author of In Sara, Mencken, Christ and Beethoven There Were Men and Women. "Includes full-length album (by Robert Ashley) and PDF of Wolgamot's magnum opus." (Via)
posted by zarq on May 23, 2011 - 28 comments

Everyone Knows You're A Hack

Judd Apatow got into an e-mail argument with the creator of That 70s Show back in 2002
posted by The Whelk on May 15, 2011 - 110 comments

Subtext

The Guardian has a new series of webchats with various people in the publishing industry starting with literary agent Karolina Sutton. Also various writers are asked: Can you teach creative writing?
posted by fearfulsymmetry on May 15, 2011 - 18 comments

Writing advice from George Saunders

Writing advice from George Saunders. [via]
posted by AceRock on Apr 28, 2011 - 30 comments

Laptopistan

Working best at coffee shops. Destination: Laptopistan. Why work doesn't happen at work.
posted by AceRock on Apr 21, 2011 - 73 comments

The internet is too big to take on

Writer Cath Elliot, recently nominated for the Orwell Prize for political writing, posts about what are, sadly, often the occupational hazards of being a political woman online. (NSFW language; author has tagged post with a trigger warning fwiw)
posted by mippy on Apr 20, 2011 - 50 comments

Cover Your Nose - or - Love Is In The Air

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 - 95 comments

Just Write It!

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.
posted by reenum on Apr 14, 2011 - 206 comments

Free Darko goes dark.

Free Darko calls it quits. Contributors to the irreverent basketball writing site that Brian Philips describes as "a vintage record shop that radiation turned into a grad student" talk about what Free Darko meant to them. Also, an interview with Free Darko writer and illustrator Bethlehem Shoals and Jacob Weinstein.
posted by AceRock on Apr 11, 2011 - 19 comments

The Periodic Table of Storytelling.

The Periodic Table of Storytelling. via
posted by Rumple on Apr 11, 2011 - 32 comments

No matter how technologically advanced your future society might be, its sociology and economics are basically those of the seventeenth century

How To Write A Generic SF Novel
posted by Artw on Apr 5, 2011 - 166 comments

Being Gay in YA

Last Monday, young adult author Jessica Verday announced that she'd pulled out Wicked Pretty Things, an anthology forthcoming with Running Press, after the anthology's editor asked her to change a romance between two teenage boys to a heterosexual pairing. The editor responded, "These teen anthologies I do are light on the sex and light on the language. I assumed they'd be light on alternative sexuality, as well. Turns out I was wrong!" [more inside]
posted by PhoBWanKenobi on Mar 29, 2011 - 121 comments

Games and resources from museums for children

Show Me is a site collecting games and resources for children from UK museums. [more inside]
posted by paduasoy on Mar 27, 2011 - 6 comments

Aloha, mahalo

The history of Hawaii, as told in plate lunches, by Sarah Vowell.
posted by Artw on Mar 26, 2011 - 33 comments

Go Ahead, Be Vulnerable. This Is Coke Talk.

This is an advice column by an L.A. party girl who likes to talk shit on the internet. E.g. She’ll take your questions about the point of Serious Relationships. And give you advice about your sexual identity. Or tell you about a little something called Prince Charming Disease. There’s some advice about managing your existential crisis too. Even replies to fifteen year old girls on tumblr about their teenage flirting. There is also tons of fun sized advice. In her own summary: “What I [write] may be unfiltered, but it’s still cooked up from the same basic ingredients as the rest of pop culture.” It’s “Shady advice from a raging bitch who has no business answering any of these questions.” It’s Dear Coke Talk. [more inside]
posted by fantodstic on Mar 24, 2011 - 85 comments

You know what it is to keep a promise to the dead.

Aboriginal Science Fiction was started in 1987 to rethink the look and feel of SF magazines; Charles Ryan published it in full sized magazine format, on glossy paper, with four-color interior illustrations and it sold well. Aboriginal kept up a full schedule through 1991, when a personal financial crisis nearly shut him down. He kept putting out the occasional issue until 2001, but the irregularity made it hard to find.

Aboriginal courted new writers, one of whom was Robert A. Metzger, an electrical engineer and laser specialist who wrote quirky, fun hard SF stories. After Aboriginal mostly folded and he got shafted on his first book deal, he mostly walked away from writing. He's drifted back in a bit since 2001, but fortunately at some point along the way he decided to put some of his boomerang era pieces online. And that's how it's possible for you to read one of the most haunting, breathtaking short stories I've ever read:

In the Shadow of Bones
posted by localroger on Mar 17, 2011 - 17 comments

Baby Bleeding from 3 Orifices

Police reports are more than just the facts. Ellen Collett, who left entertainment to work for the LAPD, knows one officer by his words alone. [more inside]
posted by Ideefixe on Mar 15, 2011 - 17 comments

#$%!*&

An essay in two parts on the pilcrow (¶) kicks off a new blog called Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Mar 6, 2011 - 17 comments

The Book That Tried To Kill Me

Why Do Writers Abandon Novels? [more inside]
posted by philip-random on Mar 5, 2011 - 48 comments

‘The Last Photograph of Cat’

The Last Photograph of Cat. MeFi’s own RJ Reynolds proves that, in hands like his, it is indeed possible to memorialize one’s beloved pet with restraint and humour yet no loss of feeling. [more inside]
posted by joeclark on Mar 3, 2011 - 88 comments

Slow Sculpture

Unsolving the city: BLDG BLOG interviews China Miéville
posted by Artw on Mar 3, 2011 - 30 comments

Amanda Hocking, self-publisher

Amanda Hocking is 26 years old. She has 9 self-published books to her name, and sells 100,000+ copies of those ebooks per month. She has never been traditionally published. ... And it’s no stretch to say – at $3 per book/70% per sale for the Kindle store... there is no traditional publisher in the world right now that can offer Amanda Hocking terms that are better than what she’s currently getting, right now on the Kindle store, all on her own. (related)
posted by Joe Beese on Mar 1, 2011 - 244 comments

Cutting in on Fred Astaire.

'Poets don’t draw,' Jean Cocteau said. 'They unravel their handwriting and then tie it up again, but differently.' An ode to the Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine.
posted by shakespeherian on Feb 28, 2011 - 68 comments

Paul Bowles

Paul Bowles - "novelist, composer, poet and quintessential outsider of American literature".
posted by Joe Beese on Feb 27, 2011 - 14 comments

I assumed that I’d be famous by 21 and dead from a drunken car accident by 23.

…But a few rare people will point out the stuff that they like, call you out on some of the dumb shit that you’re writing, and gently but forcefully suggest ways to make your dumb shit better. Treasure these people. Learn to recognize them. These people are your only hope. [...] You’re going to find them, and you’re going to hang out with these people as much as possible. You’re going to go drink coffee with them at 2am in shitty diners; you’re going to become new best friends with them; you’re going to call them at all hours on the phone.

How to be a writer, by Oliver Miller.
posted by Taft on Feb 26, 2011 - 48 comments

Zadie Smith and Gemma Sieff, Talking.

"On February 2, 2011, Harper’s Magazine and New York University’s Creative Writing Program held a discussion between Harper’s New Books columnist Zadie Smith and Reviews editor Gemma Sieff. The following is a transcript of their conversation, which covered such topics as the influence of motherhood on female novelists throughout history, the peculiar pitfalls faced by authors who write both fiction and criticism, and the place of Eminem in the hip-hop canon. Smith’s first New Books column for Harper’s appears in the March 2011 issue, now available on newsstands and to subscribers on harpers.org."
posted by chunking express on Feb 23, 2011 - 6 comments

Life

Salon.com's "Real Families" section features personal essays about modern family life submitted by their readers. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 23, 2011 - 15 comments

Who owns Kafka?

An ongoing trial in Tel Aviv is set to determine who will have stewardship of several boxes of Kafka’s original writings, including primary drafts of his published works, currently stored in Zurich and Tel Aviv.
posted by Joe Beese on Feb 23, 2011 - 41 comments

NBA Writing 2010

Award-winning NBA writing [more inside]
posted by AceRock on Feb 22, 2011 - 14 comments

Does The New Yorker have girl problems?

Anne Hays wrote an open letter to The New Yorker, and posted it on Facebook, complaining about the gender imbalance in bylines. The Village Voice and two bloggers respond. The CBC spent an hour on it this morning.
posted by kneecapped on Feb 20, 2011 - 54 comments

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