Caitlin Moran and the pitfalls of the essayist-turned-novelist
And when those opinionated, essayistic bits of the novel come, the print almost seems to glow on the page. Here is Moran firing on all cylinders, writing about life and about herself and by extension you and me. Johanna, I don’t believe in for a minute except to the extent that she’s Caitlin Moran, and I have next to no interest in anything that happens to her that didn’t also happen to Caitlin Moran. A novelist, on the other hand, would make you forget that she even exists, so overpowering is the reality of characters.
Mary Daniels Brown's insight:
Laura Miller on why Moran's nonfiction is better than her novel.
Prairie fiction offers insights to early Midwestern settlers, said BCU professor
Sioux City Journal
According to Tricia Currans-Sheehan, Briar Cliff University professor of English and writing, literature set in the Great Plains offers Midwesterners a sense of self.
Prairie fiction -- stories that depict the struggles of immigrant families settling in the Midwest in the years following the 1862 Homestead Act -- is sometimes overlooked, she said, because readers fear they will find the subject matter to be as dry as, well, the prairie.
Book review: 'Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature,' by Robert Darnton
Though he is no fan of censorship, Darnton understands that it is often no simple matter: “To dismiss censorship as crude repression by ignorant bureaucrats is to get it wrong. Although it varied enormously, it usually was a complex process that required talent and training and that extended deep into the social order.” And: “The opponents often became friends. In the course of their negotiations, they were absorbed into a network of players and a system of relations that operated within the boundaries of official institutions. It was a human system, which mitigated the rigidity of censorship as the direct expression of reason of state.” In saying all this, Darnton urges us to see censorship as a deeply human process that can be terrible but can also be surprisingly benign. He is right, too, to worry that when governments are confronted by the reality of the Internet — even a government as ostensibly open and committed to freedom of speech as our own — they are more likely to operate in their own interests than in their citizens’. In the age of cyberspace, that is a scary prospect.
The New Yorker Henry James and the Great YA Debate The New Yorker But the nature of the rebuttals differed in telling ways. Some, like Laura Miller, ... Others admitted to disliking Green's novel but insisted that the larger Y.A.
BBC News William Golding Flies classic holds true 60 years on
It's 60 years this month since the publication of William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies. To mark the anniversary his family are giving his literary archive on loan to the University of Exeter - including the very different original version of his famous tale of boys fending for themselves on a tropical island.
Wall Street Journal Hillsborough, NC: America's Little Literary Town
In fact, more than two dozen of their fellow writers live in Hillsborough, population 6,087, where government meetings are held in the "town barn," and the Wooden Nickel serves up fried green tomatoes. "Under the Tuscan Sun" author Frances Mayes lives in a 4,500-square-foot Federalist farm house here, and David Payne, author of the Southern saga "Back to Wando Passo," lives in a renovated former clubhouse for local businessmen in the town's historic district.
Some came for the slow pace of small-town life that authors say is conducive to writing. Others grew up in the area or have ties to one of the nearby universities—the University of North Carolina and Duke University are both within a 20-minute drive.
Three novels explain why it is so hard to get justice for rape victims Washington Post
three extraordinary novels released in the past three years are more interested in the sort of uncertainties we hope we might be able to banish.
“Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage,” the most recent novel from Haruki Murakami, “The Interestings,” by Meg Wolitzer and Teju Cole’s debut novel, “Open City,” all involve adult protagonists grappling with accusations of sexual assault from their youth. Each book has a slightly different arc. But each provides a powerful portrait of why people might refuse to seek out and accept the truth about a rape allegation.
Mary Daniels Brown's insight:
Spoiler alert: This post discusses the plots of “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage,” “The Interestings,” and “Open City” in some detail.
Perhaps no work of filmed criticism does this as impressively as Los Angeles Plays Itself, Thom Andersen's three-hour treatise on the history of his city's depiction on the silver screen — now recut and remastered for its tenth anniversary. Derived and expanded from a lecture he delivered in the late 1990s at the California Institute of the Arts, the film surveys no less than a century in cinematic representation, constructed from clips excerpted from more than 200 feature films. A veritably encyclopedic tract, it grapples with subsidiary subjects as diverse as the reverberations of the Watts uprising, fake movie phone numbers, and, in one of the more memorable passages, Hollywood's sustained ideological war against the reputation of modernist architecture.
Another school year just started: welcome back to the book censorship wars.
It happens whenever kids come home from school with new reading assignments: some parents look at what their kids are reading and don't like what they see. Joan E Bertin from the National Coalition Against Censorship knows why we observe Banned Books Week.
Not That Kind of Girl is a reminder of the publishing obsession with women divulging their private lives
Dunham defends the rise of the female memoir in the introduction to her book, positing it as a triumph of feminism. But it is a thin line between the long overdue validation of women’s lives and telling women that the most interesting thing they have to offer, and that all they can be trusted to write about, is themselves.
Spy stories have been around literally since the dawn of American culture. The first major American novel was James Fenimore Cooper’s The Spy, published in 1821. (It dealt with espionage during the Revolutionary War, which is also the subject of one of the newest espionage stories, the AMC television series Turn, a tale of George Washington’s spy corps.)
The New Yorker Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, and a Case of Anxiety of Influence The New Yorker If there is a precedent in literature for such a thrilling, disorienting leap across time—coupled with the offhand revelation of a central character's...
One of the things literature does better than almost any other medium is allow us to experience another person’s quality of mind, and sometimes even inhabit it. It follows, then, that every avid reader has a favorite literary character — whether they’re beloved for dastardly deeds, tough-girl antics, sex appeal, or a high snark quotient — and that there are many impossibly good ones out there. After the jump, you’ll find 50 of the best. To be clear: a great character isn’t always one you like (just ask Claire Messud), but one that is somehow extraordinary, or evokes some kind of delicious story-feeling in the reader.
Of the qualities that set Antrim apart from the group of writers he’s often casually lumped in with or excluded from — the Eugenides-Franzen-Lethem-Means-Saunders-Wallace cluster of cerebral, white-male, Northern fiction makers born around 1960 — it may be this predilection for characters “not necessarily redeemed” that offers the neatest distinction. It’s not that those other writers don’t ever do evil characters or antiheroes or that they all write tidy, hopeful plots. It’s not even that Antrim’s characters are beyond the pale in their badness, in a Cormac McCarthy manner — they aren’t psychopathic (except insofar as being human may involve being a little bit psychopathic). It’s more the case that Antrim’s fictional universe is different. It doesn’t bend toward justice, not even the kind that knows there is none but sort of hopes art can provide absolution. His universe bends — it is definitely bent — but always toward greater absurdity (in both funny and frightening guises).
sci-fi history actually has featured ahead-of-its-time, female-identifying authors and creators who have challenged conventional notions of race, gender, and sexuality head-on for centuries. Their contributions are so essential (some are by far the most out-there in the canon) that without them, the genre could not possibly have grown into the blockbuster behemoth it is today. Like many sci-fi creators, this radical group’s explorations weren’t limited to faroff planets; they dove into the sticky, difficult, often ugly realities of their own worlds, many of which are still with us today. They tackled misogyny, homophobia, racism, and the dangers of conventional gender roles — concepts often foreign to the world they inhabited. While their efforts were not always celebrated in the mainstream, they opened the possibility of a better future and pushed the conversation forward.
The Millions The Profits of Dreaming: On Fiction and Sleep
But the fact remains: no matter how many studies link fiction to empathy or dreaming to memory consolidation, we still don’t know conclusively what fiction or dreaming do for us, and perhaps we never will. It’s the most painful thorn in our side, this not-knowing, the eternal bane of human existence: we like to marvel at mystery, but we also like to contain it. Perhaps our limited tolerance for mystery has made us similarly resistant to the same in-between qualities in ourselves: irrationality, indecision, eccentricity. Yet peculiarity is as inherent to the human animal as muscle or bone. The mind is a beast in itself: like the body, it needs time and space to roam. In cordoning it off, we run the risk of alienating ourselves from the miraculous absurdity of life itself. We forget how to wonder, to drift. We forget that most questions in this world—the ones that really matter—are impossible to answer completely.
Chevillard Probes Dichotomy between 'The Author and Me'
New Historicism, with its niggling concern for ever-more minute details of authors’ lives and these details’ effects, has reigned as a preeminent critical school for some 30 years, and, as its proponents delve into what seem to be increasingly unsure waters—did the reading of Lucretius really start the Renaissance, after all?—it seems that the time is ripe for a reexamination of the question. It is this question that Éric Chevillard examines in his new novel, “The Author and Me,” translated into fine workmanlike English by Jordan Stump. Purportedly setting out to prove the independence of the voices of narrator and character from their originator, he presents a haunting argument for the inescapability of the author.
The Surprising Origin Story of Wonder Woman Smithsonian
Wonder Woman is the most popular female comic-book superhero of all time. Aside from Superman and Batman, no other comic-book character has lasted as long. Generations of girls have carried their sandwiches to school in Wonder Woman lunchboxes. Like every other superhero, Wonder Woman has a secret identity. Unlike every other superhero, she also has a secret history.