Archives: Literary Miscellany
April 12, 2011
- In an epic girls vs. boys book battle, Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Good Squad narrowly beat out Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom in the Tournament of Books. Having read both books, I agree with the judges who found Egan’s book to be more structurally innovative. And I was astounded by the Power Point chapter, which is so much more emotionally resonant than I imagined possible.
- Over at The Awl, six writers discuss book covers and blurbs.
- There’s a new addition to the Sweet Valley High canon, and even though she finds it “terribly, terribly written” and “horribly contrived,” Roxane Gay loves it.
- Interested in a group read of Bleak House?
- What your favorite children’s book when you were young says about you now: If you loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, for example, “You’re a creative gastronomist with a flexible policy on slave labor.”
- The ABA announces the winners of the 2011 Indies Choice Book Awards: Room (reviewed by me here) won for Adult Fiction Book of the Year.
- Patti Smith announces she will write a sequel to her National Book Award winning memoir, Just Kids.
- The Guardian examines dictator-lit. (Apparently Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong II and Colonel Gaddafi have all penned novels.)
- An evening gown made entirely out of children’s Golden books.
February 18, 2011
- “Love Sentence,” a new short story by Lynn Tillman.
- Joy Williams on “Why I Write.”
- The Great Gatsby Nintendo game.
- Lisa Simpson has her own book club.
- The guest editors for the Best American series have been announced: Gwendolyn Brooks (short stories), Edwidge Danticat (essays), Sloane Crosley (travel), Dave Eggers (non-required reading), Mary Roach (science and nature writing), Alison Bechdel (comics), and Jane Leavy (sports).
- In response to Jonathan Lethem’s comment that Brooklyn is “repulsive with novelists,” The Guardian tests your Brooklyn literary knowledge.
- Ficciones, my reading challenge devoted to Argentinian literature started this week. It’s not too late to join!
- In honor of Valentine’s Day, some sex-related literary goodies: what makes a good literary sex scene?; the best sex scenes about the worst sex; the best sex scenes not by a “Great Male Novelist” (e.g., Mailer, Roth or Updike); what would it be like to bang your favorite book?
February 08, 2011
- The latest on the gender disparity in publishing comes from Vida, who has released a damning breakdown of the numbers of women being published and reviewed in some of the most prominent literary publications including the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Granta, Harper’s, Tin House and the Paris Review. Vida’s post has provoked a lot of response: Ruth Franklin confronts the existence of a literary glass ceiling, Alizah Salario shares some thoughts about women and criticism, and Stephen Elliott says we need more information before coming to any conclusions.
- Bitch Media compiled a list of 100 Feminist YA books, then caused a big controversy by removing 3 of them, and is now starting a book club which includes the 3 removed titles.
- I’ve started a reading challenge devoted to Argentinian literature. You only need to read one book to join!
- The New Yorker has published a new story by Mary Gaitskill. The perspective is terrifying, but interesting and well worth the read.
- Idle doodles by Sylvia Plath, David Foster Wallace, Vladimir Nabokov and others.
- Peeing on Borges’ grave is an artistic act (at least according to one writer).
- U.S. and U.K. book covers compared.
January 14, 2011
- “This sort of petty mischief in the guise of being a concerned citizen enrages me.” Quenby Moone on an hysterical parent’s reaction to her intellectually curious seven year old son Milo’s stick figure drawing of a Nazi on top of a burning building. This is a great essay about censorship and misguided attempts to sanitize history for our children.
- In The Atlantic, Michael Chabon writes about having an honest conversation with his kids about the N-word in Huck Finn.
- Awards update: The finalists for The Story Prize (honoring short story collections) are: Memory Wall by Anthony Doerr; Gold Boy, Emerald Girl by Yiyun Li; and Death Is Not An Option by Suzanne Rivecca. The 2011 Michael L. Printz Award (for excellence in young adult literature) was awarded to Paulo Bacigalupi for Ship Breaker.
- “I offer myself to be devoured by Spanish peasants.” From a newly discovered manuscript by Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca.
- Find out what the New York Times bestsellers were during the week of your birth. (Gore Vidal, Graham Greene, and The Joy of Sex were on the list when I was born.)
- Watch The Mirror Man, a documentary about Borges.
- Five Chapters has a great new story by 5 Under 35 honoree Sarah Braunstein.
- Two great novelists, Nathan Englander and Zadie Smith, in conversation.
- Did you read? A pseudo hipster sparing match over who has read more obscure shit.
January 07, 2011
- There have been a lot of lists of anticipated books for 2011, but The Millions’s is the best I’ve seen — 76 titles with descriptions, organized by month of release.
- Last week’s New York Times book review contained essays by six critics on why criticism matters. Honestly, most of it struck me as either incomprehensible or boring, but I did like this from Sam Anderson (former book critic for New York Magazine): “The contemporary critic has to be an evangelist — implicitly or explicitly — not just for a particular book or author, but for literary experience itself.”
- Leave it to Electric Literature to ask the important questions of our time: Can a book save your life?
- Laura Miller (Salon.com) on being a better reader in 2011
- Borges’s Garden and the self -portrait he drew while blind
- Bending Bookcase Apartment
- Looking to read more short stories?: New stories from David Mitchell and Steven Millhauser.
- Looking to read more in Spanish?: 27 short stories by Argentinian writers.
- Looking for book suggestions from creative writing professors?: Salvatore Pane and Christopher Higgs post their class reading lists.