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The Many Lives of Donald Westlake

The Many Lives of Donald Westlake | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
The Many Lives of Donald Westlake
Grantland

 

I bring up Westlake now because this Friday, a filmic version of a Parker novel called Flashfire will be released to theaters. It is not the first iteration of Parker on celluloid, and it will not be the last, though it is the first to bear the actual name of the character, since the producers have secured options on several of the books. In the past, Parker has been called Porter and Walker and Stone and Macklin,2 and he has been played by Lee Marvin3 and Jim Brown4 and Robert Duvall5 and Peter Coyote6 and Mel Gibson7 and a French actress named Anna Karina.8 In this version, he is played by Jason Statham and directed by Taylor Hackford, and while I have not seen it, I have heard — both from Westlake's widow, Abby Adams, and his close friend, the writer Lawrence Block — that it stays relatively true to the Parker character as Westlake conceived him.9 But still, it is an action film starring Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez, and I don't have to tell you what that conjures, and I imagine there will be unavoidable compromises to a mass audience, and I imagine that even if it is good it will not be a box office smash, and I imagine it will be quietly placed into the hyper-adrenalized stratum of Hollywood film that Jason Statham tends to populate. And I imagine that anything involving Jason Statham will not force a thorough literary reassessment of the oeuvre of Donald Westlake, even though, at this point, I think he clearly deserves it.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

A look at one of my favorite authors, Donald E. Westlake

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Dan Nygard's war stories explore military life at home and away

Dan Nygard's war stories explore military life at home and away | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
MinnPost.com
Dan Nygard's war stories explore military life at home and away

 

While “Rounds” (Knuckledown Press) is a gracefully written work of fiction, it’s based on Nygard’s time in the service, and filled with the observations of a generation of military facing a war unlike any other.  

 

. . .

 

As he explored in fiction topics that had deviled him in reality, Nygard experienced the kind of psychological journey soldiers receiving therapy for PTSD go through, sinking into depression at times.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

I was struck by this quotation: “There’s a point where it’s so surreal you can’t write about war using the conventional forms of literature,” he says. “You need to invent new ways to write.”

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Copy Of 'The Scarlet Letter' Can't Believe The Notes High Schooler Writing In Margins

Copy Of 'The Scarlet Letter' Can't Believe The Notes High Schooler Writing In Margins | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
FOX CHAPEL, PA—A mass-market paperback edition of The Scarlet Letter confirmed Wednesday that it simply could not believe the misguided and often completely erroneous notes that local high school sophomore Phoebe Dobson has been writing in it...

Via Enid Baines
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Insight from The Onion

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Enid Baines's curator insight, January 23, 2013 8:26 PM

If books could talk...

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Hemingway family mental illness explored in new film - CNN

Hemingway family mental illness explored in new film - CNN | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
OnTheRedCarpet.com

Hemingway family mental illness explored in new film CNN

 

"We were, sort of, the other American family that had this horrible curse," says Mariel Hemingway. She compared her family to the Kennedys -- but the Hemingway curse, she said, is mental illness.

 

Hemingway, granddaughter of acclaimed author Ernest Hemingway, explores the troubled history of her family in "Running from Crazy," a documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday. Barbara Kopple is the director; Oprah Winfrey is the executive producer.

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Taking on Tomes Together - Wall Street Journal

Taking on Tomes Together - Wall Street Journal | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Wall Street Journal Taking on Tomes Together

 

The marathon reading, a format of communal public performance that has more in common with the filibuster than the conventional literary reading, is growing in popularity in the age of the Internet, according to Kathryn Hohlwein, a professor emeritus at California State University. Ms. Hohlwein is the head of the Readers of Homer, a nonprofit group that has been putting on marathon readings of "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey" around the world since the 1990s, with a reading planned at Bard College in May. "These readings are really a counterpoint to the culture of Twitter or the sound bite; in the era of the quick and easy, I propose the long and difficult," she said in an interview.

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'Shackle' stories: Auburn writer spins screenplay from juvenile justice research

'Shackle' stories: Auburn writer spins screenplay from juvenile justice research | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
'Shackle' stories: Auburn writer spins screenplay from juvenile justice research Auburn Citizen

 

"The United States jails the most youth in the world."

 

"Jumpsuit Shackle" tells the story of a young psychologist who fights to represent the concerns of troubled youth in detention centers, only to discover she's dealing with a dysfunctional system, rife with corruption. The doctor's drive to help her patients is compromised by her willingness to tackle her own personal foes and demons about past relationships.

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Three ways literature can help criminal offenders make better ...

Three ways literature can help criminal offenders make better ... | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

As alternative sentencing gains in popularity, many will wonder just how this form of “punishment” enlightens offenders. Instead of sticking people in jail to think about what they have done—usually devising better ways to be criminals—literature and support groups can help offenders realize how their decisions affect those around them.

 

Characters and stories in literature can impact how an individual processes information. A well written novel correlating to an offender’s specific crime can create more of a positive impact on the offender’s mind, compared to being locked up. How can literature be so inspiring to those who read it?

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Eight Great Fictional Nonviolent Heroes - Forbes

Eight Great Fictional Nonviolent Heroes - Forbes | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Forbes
Eight Great Fictional Nonviolent Heroes

 

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate a rare beast in fiction: nonviolent heroes. Now, I don’t mean characters who you wouldn’t expect to be violent in the context of the story – your average romantic comedy, for example, is usually bereft of violence. Instead, I wanted to take some time to focus on a few of my favorite characters in fiction who either explicitly espouse a philosophy of nonviolence, or simply never use violence even in situations where we’re trained by our culture to expect it.

 

Putting this list together was a little bit more challenging than I thought. Sad to say, but real life is actually a much richer source of nonviolent heroes than our fiction. Which is something we should think about.

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Film Review: Before Midnight

Film Review: Before Midnight | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Before Midnight Variety

 

If 1994's "Before Sunrise" was a touching paean to possibility and 2004's "Before Sunset" a piercing ode to regret, then "Before Midnight" encompasses all these feelings and more within a full-bodied portrait of a devoted couple facing early middle-age. A marvel of narrative compression, the screenplay (like "Sunset," written by Linklater, Hawke and Delpy) is equal parts naturalism and exposition, strategically updating the audience on the characters' busy lives while keeping immediacy and spontaneity at the fore.

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Friday Fatales: Woman of Mystery Flannery O'Connor

Friday Fatales: Woman of Mystery Flannery O'Connor | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

“You ought to be able to discover something from your stories. If you don’t, probably nobody else will.” She believed it is better for writers to discover than to impose meaning.

 

Ms. O’Connor said, “The fiction writer presents mystery through manners, grace through nature, but when he finishes, there always has to be left over that sense of mystery which cannot be accounted for by any human formula.”

 

Most of Flannery O’Connor’s fiction arises from pressure and resistance. Her writing is known for her use of the grotesque, the depiction of odd characters and intense violence. It serves a purpose, however, according to Brinkmeyer: it’s not the kind that destroys, but the kind that reveals, or should reveal.

 

I love Flannery’s quote on her writing technique: “You can suggest something obvious is going to happen but you cannot have it happen in a story. You can’t clobber any reader while he is looking. You divert his attention, then you clobber him, and he never knows what hit him.”

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What can literature teach us about doing business better?

What can literature teach us about doing business better? | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

The Guardian (blog)
What can literature teach us about doing business better?

You won't find answers to these questions in sonnets or novels or essays on literary criticism. That is where the impact lobby go wrong.

 

No matter what processes, policies and structures businesses put in place, people remain complicated and unpredictable: we don't always get along; we have very diverse motivations; we find change painful and difficult; we don't always behave "rationally"; and we don't always do the right thing, even when we have every reason to do so. Much great literature captures this acutely and provides us with texts that challenge and lay bare the simplistic ways we can so easily go wrong when we think about it.

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Life lost in a domestic fog - The Australian

Life lost in a domestic fog - The Australian | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Life lost in a domestic fog
The Australian

How to be a Good Wife traverses themes that are popular and theoretical. Chapman describes domestic relationships pre and post feminism, the implications for women and the complex nature of male and female interaction. Examples of male predatory behaviour are reminiscent of shocking and criminal contemporary real cases. The often challenging parent-child dynamic and the role of mother-in-law are also examined. As is the issue of mental illness and its treatment.

 

. . .

 

Because of this, How to be a Good Wife is not just enthralling fiction, but also social commentary, a combination that provokes the reader to reflect on the fraught and complicated nature of human existence.

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Small in area, large in literature - Global Times

Small in area, large in literature - Global Times | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Global Times Small in area, large in literature

 

HK [Hong Kong], as a special place both in history and geography, has nurtured a group of various writers with their own writing style, different from the mainland and Taiwan as well as foreign countries like Britain, which colonized HK for more than a century.

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The James Clayton Column: Searching for mystery missing villains - Den Of Geek

The James Clayton Column: Searching for mystery missing villains - Den Of Geek | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Den Of Geek The James Clayton Column: Searching for mystery missing villains

 

There's a clear purpose and an idealised end goal to reach and that's why the notion of a journey to find something is so prominent in film, literature,...

 

Bearing the tagline “The story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man”, Zero Dark Thirty has its cards on the table from the very start, and identifies itself as a film that’s all about a search. People like searches, which accounts for the eternal popularity of Where’s Wally? books.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

An examination of the pull of the mythic quest in literature and film

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Jeet Thayil becomes first Indian winner of South Asian literature prize - The Guardian

Jeet Thayil becomes first Indian winner of South Asian literature prize - The Guardian | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
The Guardian
Jeet Thayil becomes first Indian winner of South Asian literature prize

 

Jeet Thayil has become the first Indian writer to win the DSC prize for South Asian literature, after his debut novel Narcopolis carried off the $50,000 (£32,000) award.


A woozy narrative slides in and out of the characters' lives as it tells the story of Rashid's opium house on Shuklaji Street, in Old Bombay.

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Modernism's first wave: turn-of-the-century literature

Modernism's first wave: turn-of-the-century literature | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Joseph Conrad and Sigmund Freud's 1899 books signalled the first stirrings of a literary sea change

 

So long as we take 1899 as the beginning of the 20th Century it's possible to see one of the great flowerings in thought, taste and literary style. In that year, Sigmund Freud first published The Interpretation of Dreams and Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness. One is a descent into the nightmare of the unconscious; the hidden lusts, and brutality lying under the veneer of civilisation. The other – well, the same, only written in German and much, much longer.

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'Outsider Fiction' - The Star Online

'Outsider Fiction' - The Star Online | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
'Outsider Fiction' The Star Online

 

Well, there’s a new edgy school of Asian literature that mines the criminal underworld for material.

 

Let’s call it “Outsider Fiction”, with the Chinese dentist-turned writer Yu Hua and India’s Aravind Adiga (the author of the ground-breaking, Man Booker Prize-winning The White Tiger) leading the pack.

 

Their work rejects the traditional middle-class obsession of the literary world (marriage, adultery and status, as exemplified by Vikram Seth with A Suitable Boy) focusing instead on the gritty world beyond the bourgeois salon of ingénue unmarried maidens, anxious mothers and hesitant young men.

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‘The Following,’ Starring Kevin Bacon, on Fox

‘The Following,’ Starring Kevin Bacon, on Fox | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
In Fox’s series “The Following” Kevin Bacon plays a burned-out former F.B.I agent brought out of retirement to hunt followers of a serial killer.

 

Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) is a charming professor of literature and expert on Edgar Allan Poe who is also a serial killer so captivating that even from afar he can persuade his acolytes to kill strangers, or even stab themselves in the eye. His followers are all over, and some are embedded so innocuously into normal life as friends and neighbors that nobody would ever suspect they are carrying out a mission of ritual murder by proxy.

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Sundance film festival 2013: Kill Your Darlings - first look review

Sundance film festival 2013: Kill Your Darlings - first look review | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

The Guardian
Sundance film festival 2013: Kill Your Darlings - first look review

 

Films about the Beat generation are all too often made for kudos by well-meaning but not so well-read dilettantes who simply want to advertise their often misguided interest in the this now-infamous bohemian group of writers. Kill Your Darlings, though, is the real deal, a genuine attempt to source the beginning of America's first true literary counterculture of the 20th century. It doesn't resemble Paul Thomas Anderson's film in style but an alternative title could easily be There Will Be Blood, since it is about the way fate can be determined in the crucible of violence, via a little-known but, in its own intimate way, galvanising moment in modern, but now fast-fading, literary history.

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Trading Faith for Wonder: On 'Jews and Words'

Trading Faith for Wonder: On 'Jews and Words' | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Trading Faith for Wonder: On 'Jews and Words'
lareviewofbooks

 

Enter Amos Oz — one of Israel’s greatest writers, a frequent Nobel contender, author of marvelous works like the memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness and the novel My Michael, and a cofounder of the activist organization Peace Now — and his daughter Fania Oz-Salzberger, a historian and professor at the University of Haifa. In their “little book,” Jews and Words, father and daughter argue that the Jews are best understood as a people with a shared literary history. “Ours is not a bloodline but a textline,” they proclaim. “Jewish history and peoplehood form a unique continuum, which is neither ethnic nor political.” In other words, Jews are not first and foremost a race or a religion but a civilization, one linked by the texts they read, the stories they tell, and the history they’ve chronicled.

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Nicholas Royle on 'First Novel' - The Quietus

Nicholas Royle on 'First Novel' - The Quietus | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

BOOKS: Nicholas Royle on 'First Novel'
The Quietus

 

At the same time, I was fascinated by Eastern Europe and in particular by Berlin and the fact that Berlin was divided and that there was this wall running though it. People from one half of the city could go to the other but people from that half couldn’t go to the other. That struck me as a really good metaphor for split personality. It’s a novel about split personality and identity. Most of my stuff is about identity one way or another.

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Royle about his first novel, "Counterparts"

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Six Things Prose Writers Can Learn From Television | Matt Debenham

Six Things Prose Writers Can Learn From Television | Matt Debenham | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

The point of my lecture was to talk about the ways (some) television has grown away from its roots in radio and stage drama into a new form of visual literature, full of complicated, character-based, long form storytelling. The Shield and The Sopranos and Freaks & Geeks, I argued, are like novels. Hell, David Simon has said outright he was trying to make the Great American Novel with The Wire.

 

TV and books are not the same, of course, and I included plenty of examples where they diverge. DON’T WORRY. But because this was a crowd of MFA students, I wrapped up the lecture with what Socrates called “easy learnables”: What we (as students of writing) can learn from television.

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Styron's letters show manners amid controversies

Styron's letters show manners amid controversies | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Styron's letters show manners amid controversies Austin American-Statesman

 

Styron did not shy away from answering the controversies of his novels, nor did he shy away from documenting those of his own life, in particular his crushing bouts of depression beginning in the mid-1980s. “Darkness Visible” (1990), his memoir of illness and recovery, helped spawn a literary genre of psychological introspection, dovetailing with developments in psychopharmacology. It set the stage for such literary/medical classics as Kay Redfield Jamison’s “An Unquiet Mind” and Andrew Solomon’s “The Noonday Demon.”

 

Throughout this life, Styron wrote more than 1,000 letters to family, friends, literary peers and admiring (as well as critical) strangers. In the selection assembled by his widow, Rose, and writer R. Blakeslee Gilpin, he comes off as sensitive, erudite, caring, self-reflective and observant. There’s very little tell-all in the letters — no rants, no rages, no revenge.

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How A 'Madwoman' Upended A Literary Boys Club - WBUR

How A 'Madwoman' Upended A Literary Boys Club - WBUR | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
How A 'Madwoman' Upended A Literary Boys Club
WBUR
How many works of literary criticism have become classics themselves?

 

The Western canon was not liberated overnight, but Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar certainly stuck a wedge firmly into the frat house door when they wrote The Madwoman in the Attic. The two were, then, young professors at Indiana University and had co-taught a course in women's literature when they stumbled onto, what they called in their introduction, a "distinctively female literary tradition ... which no one had yet defined in its entirety." . . .

 

The undercover female tradition that Gilbert and Gubar were talking about was one in which writers as disparate as Austen, Emily Dickinson, the Brontes, Louisa May Alcott and George Eliot used similar themes and images to dramatize the social limitations they themselves suffered as women.

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Charles Dickens Used Literature to Showcase Discrimination ...

Charles Dickens' tales are filled with immortal characters

 

Charles Dickens' tales are filled with immortal characters - think of A Christmas Carol's Scrooge and Great Expectations' Miss Havisham. But more than whims of literary invention, his characters and plots often deal with the difficult social realities of Victorian England. His portrayal of the disabled - both in terms of medicine and the social discrimination they faced - is no exception.

 

"Social attitudes towards the disabled can often be traced through art, from ancient times through today," explains Prof. Avi Ohry of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine, a specialist in rehabilitation medicine and a scholar of the medical humanities. In Dickens' works, he says, readers are confronted with the stark realities of the 19th century, including poor medical care and social discrimination against the physically disabled and the mentally ill.

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