Getting lost within the pages of a book can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but what happens when obsession goes too far? In his second novel, Boston writer Jaime Clarke explores the darker side of literary admiration. The result is “Vernon Downs,” a stunning and unsettling foray into a glamorous world of celebrity writers, artistic loneliness, and individual desperation.
Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish’s three-second memory or a dog’s color-blindness (both also myths). There are countless depictions of moon howling in faux Native American tchotchkes; the scene also appears in Jack London novels and at least one Los Angeles piano bar. This curious fiction has become so quotidian that even The New Yorker’s legendary fact checkers let “a long, lamenting howl at the orange moon” slide into print without a second thought.
The Guardian A brief survey of the short story:: Jean Rhys
"Too bitter," Jean Rhys said of her work in 1945. "And besides, who wants short stories?" No one did then, at least not hers. Rhys published her first collection in 1927, and her first novel the following year. In the 1930s came three increasingly dark and accomplished novels, but the better she got, the less she was read. She published nothing for 20 years, until stories began appearing in the London Magazine in the early 1960s. In 1966, her final novel, Wide Sargasso Sea, brought her acclaim and a degree of financial security at the age of 76. Another two short-story collections appeared before her death in 1979. They include some of the best British short stories of the last century.
The New Indian Express Duras: the searing art of disintegration Buenos Aires Herald
Freud would draw the line between a painter and a sculptor’s work: the former creates by adding layers of colour while the latter extracts chunks of matter. “Then you will see,” Duras would say, “that I write as one must, or so it seems to me: I write for nothing.”
She wrote and loved what she would write. Shedding history, mental reservations and destiny, she would also obsess over how those other people — who didn’t write — spent their time. She had even reached the point of sifting any and all experience through the inevitable sieve of literature, even the most sombre of occurrences. For her, writing had managed to inhabit a parallel universe oozing its interchanging flow in the here-and-now.
Film — The Humanism in “Her” The Daily Princetonian (blog)
The premise of “Her” is that a lonely man named Theodore, played in an extraordinarily nuanced performance by Joaquin Phoenix, falls in love with his operating system named Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. By then, artificial intelligence has become so advanced that talking Samantha is essentially indistinguishable from a conversation with any other human.
But the touch of science fiction in this film narrative is actually fairly light. Information about the name of the company that produces the operating system is only mentioned once at the beginning of the film. Whenever Samantha’s character explains how she works, she evades the science and technology direction that the film could have taken to talk about all the new emotions she is feeling. What the movie seems to more thoroughly talk about is not a human’s relationship with technology, but just the changeable nature of relationships in general, and the thesis that all relationships are doomed to end.
Mary Daniels Brown's insight:
Darn. "Her" is another movie I intended to go see but didn't get to it. (Another is "Philomena.") I'll have to check out my TV provider's "on demand" contents.
The Heirs of Steinbeck: Who Are the Fiction Writers Taking on Poverty and ...
Despite our recession-era reckoning with economics and inequality, fiction that examines both the macro and micro experience of poverty is all too rare. Of the writers who do venture forth in the tradition of John Steinbeck, many are finding new and riveting approaches to an age-old subject. But there are crucial gaps, still. And as brilliantly as Steinbeck wrote about poverty, we cannot rely on him to comprehensively tell today’s story.
Aspiring writers want to know: Should I get a graduate degree or move to New York
"MFA vs. NYC: The Two Cultures of American Fiction," an estimable collection of essays by writers, writer-teachers, agents and editors, makes a case for two distinct “literary fiction cultures” in the United States.
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"MFA vs NYC" sounds the depth of the waters between aspiring writers and literary success. If the book argues anything, it’s that the Joycean image of the artist being “above his handiwork … indifferent, paring his fingernails,'' couldn’t be more wrong.
Franco Moretti is a literature professor, and founder of the Stanford Literary Lab, who believes in something called "computational criticism," that is, the ability of computers to aid in the understanding of literature. Joshua Rothman's recent profile of Moretti has provoked a lot of response, most of it defending traditional literary criticism from the digital barbarians at the gates. Moretti's defenders argue, however, that his critics have failed to understand a crucial difference between his work and what they're worried it might supplant: "The basic idea in Moretti’s work is that, if you really want to understand literature, you can’t just read a few books or poems over and over (“Hamlet,” “Anna Karenina,” “The Waste Land”). Instead, you have to work with hundreds or even thousands of texts at a time. By turning those books into data, and analyzing that data, you can discover facts about literature in general—facts that are true not just about a small number of canonized works but about what the critic Margaret Cohen has called the 'Great Unread.'"
The National Portrait Gallery, London, has announced today, Thursday 3 April, that it is to hold a significant exhibition exploring the life and achievements of Virginia Woolf, one of the most important and celebrated writers of the twentieth century. Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision, on display from 10 July until 26 October, will feature painted portraits, photographs, drawings and rare archival material, including a letter to her sister, Vanessa Bell, written shortly before her suicide.
The Underrated, Universal Appeal of Science Fiction
The assumption seems to be that a book that comes with a genre label like “science fiction” must necessarily be lightweight stuff—not really comparable with “non-genre” works.
This may partly be due to the fact that the word “genre” has two different meanings which are often muddled up. The basic meaning of “genre” is simply kind or category or form of fiction, and in that sense, any work of fiction can be assigned to some genre or another. But "genre" is also used in a different way to make a distinction between “genre” and “non-genre” fiction. “Non-genre” fiction is the stuff that is placed on the “general fiction” or “fiction and literature” shelves in Barnes and Noble. “Genre” fiction is the stuff that is placed in its own designated corners: Crime, Fantasy, Romance, Horror, Science Fiction.
And now, a qualitative distinction creeps in. The assumption is made that the stuff on the “general fiction” shelves is the serious stuff—after all, it includes the literary greats—while the stuff cordoned off in those corners is, by definition, light, inconsequential, or even trashy.
Libreria Donceles adds Hispanic layer to downtown literary scene
Combine Studios, the site of ASU’s International Art Museum Artist Residency Program, is now the temporary home of Libreria Donceles, Phoenix’s only used Spanish-language bookstore.
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The books at Libreria Donceles are written in Spanish by Spanish-speaking authors. The selection differs greatly compared to translated works found in English-language bookstores, said the exhibit curator Julio Cesar Morales.
I’m back with a much more extensive tour of “Charm City,” with its bookstores and libraries, literary monuments and author houses, fairs and festivals. After all, this is the city that named its football team the “Ravens,” after Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem. It doesn’t get much more bookish than that, hon.
Daphne du Maurier 'overlooked' by literary critics, her son says
Her dark, macabre tales of Gothic romance and revenge have enthralled millions of readers and remain in print decades after her death.
But for Daphne du Maurier, the wealth and worldwide fame she earned from novels such as Rebecca and Jamaica Inn were a poor substitute for the acclaim she craved from literary critics who dismissed her as a second-rank “romantic novelist”.
Now her only son, Kits Browning, speaking for the first time ahead of the BBC’s three-part adaptation of Jamaica Inn, has criticised the “Hampstead literati” for overlooking one of the last century’s most original literary talents.
Voices: Mapping literary journeys Herald Times Reporter
In the humanities fields, scholars are using digital tools to create new ways of exploring existing information. In my field of literature, some scholars use GIS technology to map significant landmarks in works of literature. The website Placing Literature: Where Your Book Meets the Map is a collaboration between readers, an author, a Geography scholar, and a software engineer. This project allows readers to map significant places in literature, creating a map for others to use.
Mary Daniels Brown's insight:
Read how Jessica Lyn Van Slooten, associate professor in the English Department and in the Women's Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc, incorporates technology use into her courses.
Why the English novel is no longer English Aljazeera.com
Some of our best novels of the late 20th and early 21st century have charted the experience of our immigrants - such as Andrea Levy's prize-winning Small Island, about the experience of young Jamaicans in London around World War II.
This isn't literary fashion of the moment; it's the reflection of a changing Britain, one in which more than 10 percent of the population are from ethnic minorities.
John Connolly mixes hints of melodrama and horror into his crime novels, but keeps them grounded in reality, asking questions about the morality of the world - which leads to some tricky letters from readers.
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This is part of the power of Connolly's writing. Readers are allowed to contemplate something of reality through the escapism of the more fantastic elements, allowing Connolly to ask often complex questions about the world, and the morality of action or inaction.
Punk began in the mid-1970s as a total rebellion against rock music of the time. Rock had become overdone, with long complicated guitar solos that were accompanied by full orchestrations; the rock stars were flying in private jets with the Queen; and fans had to pay a fortune to squint at the act from the back of a stadium. Punk aimed to bring the music back to the people. To play punk all you needed was to, as Sid Vicious said, "just pick a chord, go twang, and you've got music."
Unfortunately, that lack of emphasis on expertise has caused many to regard punk as not the most intelligent of genres-yet that couldn't be farther from the truth. Aside from the advanced political attitudes that punk came to represent, the genre is bursting with literary influence.
Finally: with the publication of two handsome volumes (and a third in the works) of the novels and short stories of Bernard Malamud (1914-1986), the Library of America has at long last welcomed into its pantheon of American literary greats the Brooklyn-born author of such well-known works of fiction as “The Natural” (yup, the source for the blockbuster baseball movie starring Robert Redford), “The Fixer” (which won the Pulitzer Prize and also spawned a movie, this one starring Alan Bates), “The Assistant,” and others.
10 British Children's Books That Every Young American Kid Should Read
So, here are ten of the best for younger children, the kind of books that light fires in the mind, whether they are read alone or with a grown-up; books that inspire further reading and further exploration, and sometimes provide an imaginary companion for a lifetime.
April is poetry month, and I've always felt that this is the time not only to revisit those beloved poems that have brought us so much joy or insight in the past, but also to challenge ourselves to read more broadly, more diversely, exploring voices that often go unheard.
Recently I've had a rewarding experience reading three anthologies of women poets from around the world, and their undaunted music will likely echo in my mind throughout the month and beyond.