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Los Angeles Review of Books - Jon Wiener interviews Gore Vidal

Los Angeles Review of Books - Jon  Wiener interviews Gore Vidal | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it

Curator's Note:  In this entertaining interview, Jon Wiener interviews Gore Vidal on questions of writing, great literature, and the politics of the written word...

 

Gore Vidal: "We have Truman Capote to thank for that. As bad writers go, he took the cake. So bad was he, you know, he created a whole new art form: the nonfiction novel. He had never heard of a tautology, he had never heard of a contradiction. His social life was busy. To have classes in fiction — that really is hopeful, isn’t it. People can go to school and bring in physics. The genius of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity's Rainbow: he had to take all of his first year courses at, what was it, Cornell? One of his teachers was Nabokov. And everything he had in his first year’s physics went in to Gravity’s Rainbow. Whether it fit in or not, it just went in there. That’s one way of doing it.

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Literary Imagination
A curatorial extravaganza of the centrality of literature in human thought, action, and creative life.
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Creative writing professor Hanif Kureishi says such courses are 'a waste of time'

Creative writing professor Hanif Kureishi says such courses are 'a waste of time' | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Buddha of Suburbia author, who teaches subject at Kingston University, added that many of his students could 'write sentences' but not tell stories
Judith Robertson's insight:

But Jeanette Winterson, who teaches at Manchester University, disagreed with Kureishi. She told the Guardian: "My job is not to teach my MA students to write; my job is to explode language in their faces. To show them that writing is both bomb and bomb disposal – a necessary shattering of cliche and assumption, and a powerful defusing of the soul-destroying messages of modern life (that nothing matters, nothing changes, money is everything, etc). Writing is a state of being as well as an act of doing. My job is to alter their relationship with language. The rest is up to them."

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Book Review Byline Tally Shows Gender Disparity

Book Review Byline Tally Shows Gender Disparity | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
In its annual count of male and female bylines in book reviews, magazines and literary journals, VIDA, a women’s literary organization, revealed that in 2013, the publications still largely favored men over women.
Judith Robertson's insight:

Kudos to the New York Times Book Review and the Paris Review for taking critical steps to reverse the unconscionable display of gender discrimination in authorship of literary reviews in contemporary journalism.

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A beautiful day for poetry

A beautiful day for poetry | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
On February 15th, in Cobourg Canada, poetry appeared in the streets. 120 poets from all over the world sent in more than 500 love poems that were displayed on store windows and read out to the publ...
Judith Robertson's insight:

I love this idea of poetry taking over the street:  poetry hanging from store front windows, wandering poets shouting out lyrics, the pure force of poetry re-igniting the Agora.  How inspired and purely liberating a force - well done PiC for creating FEELTHE LOVE in Downtown Cobourg!

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Sebastian Barker obituary

Sebastian Barker obituary | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Lyrical poet, much influenced by William Blake, whose later work contained a strong philosophical and reflective streak
Judith Robertson's insight:

Elizabeth Smart's son, Sebastian Barker (also a poet) is dead - another sad passing in this month of heart-wrenching losses.

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In Praise of (Offline) Slow Reading

In Praise of (Offline) Slow Reading | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Reading books is an important part of coming to know who we are.
Judith Robertson's insight:

David Mikics calls on Dave Eggers's popular dystopic tale "The Circle" to pronounce darkly on the self annilhating effects of social networking, especially when digital immersion takes away from slow time with a good old-fashioned book.

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Brazil's Most Pathetic Profession

Brazil's Most Pathetic Profession | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Being a teacher or a philosopher is pretty bad. Just don't tell anyone you're a writer.
Judith Robertson's insight:

I'm not surprised to read this analysis. Just sad.

 

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Obama’s Purple Crayon

Obama’s Purple Crayon | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
A literacy advocate says a president can learn from a beloved children’s book.
Judith Robertson's insight:

A great letter to a president.

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The Books Of 2013 - Online Exclusives

The Books Of 2013 - Online Exclusives | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Herald writers reveal what's provided their reading pleasure this year.
Judith Robertson's insight:

Many of these books have now made it onto my must read list, thanks to the persuasive annotations of these Herald Scotland writers and reviewers.

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Arnon Grunberg Is Writing While Connected to Electrodes

Arnon Grunberg Is Writing While Connected to Electrodes | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
The Dutch author Arnon Grunberg, and his readers, are the subject of a study that aims to track the physiology of writing and literary appreciation.
Judith Robertson's insight:

Writer and creativity enthusiast Arnon Grunberg wants to know what happens neurologically when people write.  To this end he is conducting a scientific experiment of his own writing process, with 28 electrodes hooked up to his scalp for company.  They hurt.  They intrude.  They need to be watered in order to conduct energy.  Nevertheless, the writer is convinced that he is on to something big.  Next phase of the experiment will involved readers who are similarly connected, whilst reading Grunberg's prose.  Will similar parts of the brain light up? 

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Canada Reads 2014: Meet the Top 10 | canadareads with Jian Ghomeshi | CBC Radio

Canada Reads 2014: Meet the Top 10 | canadareads with Jian Ghomeshi | CBC Radio | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
What is the one novel that could change Canada? That's the question we put to you, Canada, earlier this year. And you answered! Thousands of recommendations poured in from across the country.
Judith Robertson's insight:

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's list of Canada's top 10 reads, based on surveys with Canadian readers.  I have my work cut out for me - have only read one of these picks.

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‘Want Not,’ by Jonathan Miles

‘Want Not,’ by Jonathan Miles | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
In this novel, Jonathan Miles explores varieties of waste and decay in a consumer world.
Judith Robertson's insight:

Dave Eggers reviews "Want Not" and leaves me longing to read this deeply humane and philosophically robust story of 6 characters whose lives converge narratively around questions of desire, materiality, necessity, and time.

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‘Brave Genius’ Is a Story of Science, Philosophy and Bravery in Wartime

‘Brave Genius’ Is a Story of Science, Philosophy and Bravery in Wartime | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
The philosopher Albert Camus and the scientist Jacques Monod, active in the Resistance, forged a lasting and deep friendship.
Judith Robertson's insight:

I hadn't know about the electricity between men that can fire a writer (like Camus) and a scientist (like Monod) ever onwards toward symbolizing new mysteries.  Until now, and I want to read the book.

 

"Monod’s discoveries, Dr. Carroll writes, helped provide the intellectual scaffolding for understanding “one of the greatest mysteries of biology: the development of a complex creature from a single fertilized egg.” In his 1970 book “Chance and Necessity” (a best-seller in France second only to Erich Segal’s “Love Story” for much of that year), Monod explained those discoveries for a popular audience, explicitly tying them to his friend’s existential philosophy.

“Molecular biology,” Dr. Carroll writes, “had brought Monod full circle to Camus’s territory of the absurd condition — that contradiction between the human longing for meaning and the universe’s silence.”

“Chance and Necessity” took its epigraph from Camus’s “Myth of Sisyphus,” thus repaying an earlier compliment from Camus that readers of “Brave Genius” may not find at all absurd: “I have only known one true genius: Jacques Monod.”



 

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The Pure Gold Baby

The Pure Gold Baby | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
NPR coverage of The Pure Gold Baby.
Judith Robertson's insight:

Margaret Drabble treats us to another new novel, even after her recent pledge of having retired from writing.  This one opens a window on a mother-daughter relationship between an academic woman and her disabled daughter who bears the illustrious moniker of the pure gold baby. I didn't know how I was going to get through the next bit of time without reading something new from Margaret Drabble.  I am grateful for this gift of her wisdom. 

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Video: Blake Bailey on Writing About His Own Life

Video: Blake Bailey on Writing About His Own Life | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
The literary biographer talks about his new memoir, “The Splendid Things We Planned.”
Judith Robertson's insight:

"Voltaire said about the dead, 'We owe them only the truth.'  And that is the philosophy I assume in this narrative. (Blake Bailey on Writing About His Own Life)

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Edgar Allan Poe, Interior Design Critic

Edgar Allan Poe, Interior Design Critic | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
What scared the author of 'The Pit and the Pendulum'? Bad design.
Judith Robertson's insight:

I have long read Poe for his literary genius and loved him.  How sweet it is now to find that his writer's eye shares that of a visual artist, with a strong commitment to the principles of form, story and substance in the domestic mise-en-scene.

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Professors, We Need You!

Professors, We Need You! | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Academics are some of the smartest minds in the world. So why are they making themselves irrelevant?
Judith Robertson's insight:

I relate to this discussion of the usefulness of academic prose.  I am a trained Doctor of Philosophy, capable of delivering a beautifully constructed argument with analytical punch.  Problem is... No one reads it.  "A related problem is that academics seeking tenure must encode their insights into turgid prose. As a double protection against public consumption, this gobbledygook is then sometimes hidden in obscure journals — or published by university presses whose reputations for soporifics keep readers at a distance."

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A. A. Gill Honored for Top Hatchet Job

A. A. Gill Honored for Top Hatchet Job | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Mr. Gill’s review of Morrissey’s “Autobiography” took home an annual prize for the best negative book review.
Judith Robertson's insight:

“Poser writes pretentious book. Poser writes pretentious review.”

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Farewell

Farewell | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
After 16 years of stories that raised as many thoughts and ideas as animals and pets, this is the last installment of The Rural Life.
Judith Robertson's insight:

I've enjoyed this column, managing to imbibe from it a quiet sense of peace and good rhythm that comes from being connected to nature.  Thank you, Verlyn Klinkenborg.

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‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ and Its Ties to Chelsea

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ and Its Ties to Chelsea | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
A reader asks whether Clement Clarke Moore, known for a famous holiday poem, was indeed the primary developer of the Chelsea section of Manhattan.
Judith Robertson's insight:

I especially love that the writer of this famous poem kept " A Visit from St. Nicholas" a secret lest it sully his repuation as a serious academic.  Oh, the secrets we keep...

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Kelmscott Press, a Thing of Iron Musculature, Is to Be Sold

Kelmscott Press, a Thing of Iron Musculature, Is to Be Sold | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
The 1891 press that produced “The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer,” among other late-19th-century books, is to be auctioned by Christie’s on Friday.
Judith Robertson's insight:

There is nothing like a good old-fashioned printing press to get an artist's heart beating harder.  Well known for fostering aesthetic miracles (think of William Morris's stunning visuals), as well as psychological relief (think of Virginia Woolf type-setting for the Hogarth Press in her Meckelridge Street basement with Leonard), the printing press has served long and well, making the world a brighter and more humane place.  David Dunlap elaborates in the NYT, with reference to William Morris's massive Kelmscott Press, shortly up for auction:

 

"His monument, “The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer,” is a 556-page volume, with illustrations by Edward Burne-Jones. It was laboriously printed, two pages at a time, from 1894 to 1896 at Morris’s Kelmscott Press in the Hammersmith district of London. Each page is roughly 17 by 11 inches. Many are encircled by decorative borders with so much plant life that they are almost aromatic.

To say that the Kelmscott Chaucer is ornate is like saying that a peacock has tail feathers; true enough, but something of an understatement.

“It is intended to be essentially a work of art,” Morris declared. And so it is."

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Fascinating tales from vibrant life

Fascinating tales from vibrant life | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Cardinal Newman said not to trust a recent convert.
Judith Robertson's insight:

I am chagrined that I had not heard of Penelope Fitzgerald until reading this wonderful review of a new biography about her life, penned by the illustrious Hermione Lee.  Here's a snippet from reviewer Michael Alexander's column in The Herald Scotland:

 

"Penelope Fitzgerald's story is, then, an encouraging one, and not only for writers. Things did not go well for her in the middle of her life, which may be why her first book - a life of the painter Edward Burne-Jones - appeared only in her 60th year. Her subsequent biographies, The Knox Brothers and Charlotte Mew And Her Friends are as rich and rewarding as any novel. But as she turned more to fiction, her novels became more carefully organised, and both graver and funnier.

She writes about mismatched love and the mishaps of life, though not in a miserable spirit. She uses the economy of comedy to deal with material which involves tragic surprises. She preferred, she said, not to insult the reader by explaining too much.

Offshore won the Booker Prize in 1979, but she never had a popular readership. Only with her last and most miraculous book, The Blue Flower, did she have a hit (in the US, not the UK) and make money. Frank Kermode, AS Byatt and Julian Barnes liked her books, but the sales reps found them hard to put across. It did not help on the promotional circuit to have been born in 1916, to favour William Morris pinafores and to be a lady. Interviewers found her modest, self-deprecating, elusive; some failed to notice the intellectual steel."

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James McBride on His Novel ‘The Good Lord Bird’

James McBride on His Novel ‘The Good Lord Bird’ | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
James McBride, the surprise winner of the National Book Award for “The Good Lord Bird,” was instantly elevated to a level of literary celebrity that he has yet to enjoy throughout a long career in writing.
Judith Robertson's insight:

A new title for the ever expanding wish list.   This one moves to the top.

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Poets Remember Seamus Heaney

Poets Remember Seamus Heaney | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Paul Muldoon, Lucie Brock-Broido and Paul Simon were among those who read from Mr. Heaney’s work at Cooper Union’s Great Hall.
Judith Robertson's insight:

A proper tribute and send off for one of the mighties.

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Poetry Profiles: Copper Canyon Press

Poetry Profiles: Copper Canyon Press | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
The first installment of a new series about the work of poetry publishing houses.
Judith Robertson's insight:

"Many smart people say they’re panic-stricken by poetry, as if it were an iambic migraine to be ducked. One purpose of these occasional profiles in poetry is to educate readers who might be tempted by the art, but who aren’t sure where to start. We mean to gradually create a guide to the vast archipelago of independent-press poetry publishing." (Michael Wiegers, Copper Canyon)

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Fail first, then fly high - News | The Star Online

Fail first, then fly high - News | The Star Online | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
So you’ve won the Booker Prize before you’re 30. Now, what about the rest of your career as a writer? One literary critic weighs in on peaking too early.
Judith Robertson's insight:

Nicholas Lezard from the Guardian writes that it's not good for genius to peak too early.  Well....okay.

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