"In college, during the time that I went to a college that had majors, I thought mine would be English, so I took a poetry class because it was required. The professor had long, long center-parted flat brown hair and was rumored to be going through a divorce. The celebrity she most closely resembled was the farm wife in the painting American Gothic crossed with an Aubrey Beardsley engraving of the Lady of Shalott. (This is how I thought about things at the time.) We read poems by women poets who were dissatisfied with their domestic lives, or by Randall Jarrell posing as one of these women…. Everything about the [...]
"For a time, the iPad made everything worse. It was too easy to check social media, for example. When Dustin began feeling like an internet widow as I walked through the apartment, silently moving from device to device, we set rules on usage, which included talking to him again. The iPad then quickly disappointed: A visit to Hulu asked me to pay for something I could watch for free on my computer. My current print magazine subscriptions did not transfer to the iPad—I would have to either repurchase my magazines, an unpleasant idea, or switch to the iPad-only version, and at only a slight discount compared to the print-subscription rate. [...]
Laura Miller takes issue with National Novel Writing Month: her concern is that this is a symptom of the Culture of Narcissism™ and that it means none of these would-be writers reads, or at least, none of them will have time to read throughout the month of November. (Her argument is actually fairly complex, so it's worth reading for yourself; it's also vigorously rebutted elsewhere.) Apparently the world is plenty full of people who write but do not read? This has not been my experience but I have not met everyone, so I won't judge. She has further complaints: "I am not the first person to point out [...]
At the end of Gary Shteyngart's near-future satire Super Sad True Love Story, I sank into a curious exhaustion. I had impulsively bought the discounted hardcover while battling a poisoned haze of emotions-an agent is peddling my own near-future novel to publishers; I wanted to demonstrate the commercial viability of near-future-based literature; I wanted assurance that what I've written and rewritten over the past few years had not been made redundant overnight. I was afraid to discover better, streamlined permutations of my own ideas, and I was further afraid that Shteyngart's rich voice would alert me to the holes in my not-as-meticulous alternative universe. I came into the thing [...]
I would not ever have been caught dead with a copy of Harry Potter in public. When I'd see my fellow adults, some of whom may have been kidults actually, toting those books around, I'd feel a very real horror. I think it is embarrassing for them! And so I didn't ever even read it. It wasn't just the squeamishness about the popular and mass market, even though I'm a little bit of a snob, sure-it's really just a fear of being someone who reads books that don't require advanced reading skills. Even in a world where there's lists like The Best YA for Adults 2009, and where [...]
Adam Frank, writing for NPR, complains about a CNN report suggesting that President Obama's recent speech on the oil spill might have been "pitched over the head [sic] of the American people," because it required a tenth-grade level of comprehension. According to CNN analyst Paul J.J. Payback: "Obama's nearly 10th-grade-level rating was the highest of any of his major speeches and well above the grade 7.4 of his 2008 'Yes, we can' victory speech, which many consider his best effort…. The scores indicate that this was not Obama at his best, especially when attempting to make an emotional connection to the American people."
Barnes & Noble? Forget what you've heard about sales struggles and investor confidence and whatnot: they're in it to win it. (Photo by Richard Kim.)
As to those, who in presence of their betters are too lowly in speech so that they bring not their voice whole to the lips, it happened to me and without full utterance I began:1
Yes, it is terrible, and sudden2. He thrown everything off balance.3 And then he did go off balance on the ice, taking a step back from the eyes which had penetrated him and emptied his face.4 What was that dim distant music, those vestiges of color in the air?5 The penalty of light forever.6 Then he would be able to think about it and sort things out.7 [...]
The final story in Elisa Albert’s debut collection How This Night Is Different is in the form of a letter to Philip Roth from “Elisa Albert.” In it, the author—or her alter-ego, or whatever—offers to bear the aging, famously childless author a son or daughter. It’s a joke, and it isn’t. It’s hilarious either way. And for (h/t Julie Klausner) Jewish Girls who have considered suicide when Zuckerman Unbound was enuf, reading it produces the uncanny sensation of having had the top of one’s head unscrewed and one’s brain contents poured directly onto a page, which one is somehow then reading. I mean, [...]
Understanding Thomas Bernhard as music: "A lot of Bernhard must be logistical, how to pace, how to rank, how to hide. When to deepen the attack, when and how to move on."
Sam MacLaughlin: Hi Dustin!
Dustin Kurtz: Hello Samuel. So, introductions of our various stances, maybe?
Dustin: Emphasis on the sad and white, yes. Our manliness being in dispute at times.
Sam: At times. I do carry a tote bag. And: you're not a female novelist, are you?
Dustin: No, so I think we can agree that my dislike of this book won't come from anything as disagreeable as politics. Unless there is a political party fighting for better prose?
I had hoped to soak up as much contemporary British culture as I could while spending the summer working in England. It helped that I'd spent the lead-up to my summer reading Booker-ratified authors like Peter Carey (Australian, yes) and Ian McEwan-I wanted to be ready for the Anglophilic culture that produced such minds.
My trip got off to a disillusioning start, though, and not when I realized that the nation's top pop star sounds like Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins. While the students I was chaperoning had gone to an arcade, I sat at a picnic table with coworkers when a band-not a group, certainly a [...]
Today until 4 p.m. Eastern Time, the Biblioracle will tell you what book to read next if you tell him the last five books you have read. Handy! (In other local news, there is a lost corgi puppy in Bushwick, should you happen to find one.)
Barbara Comyns is always being compared to writers X, Y or Z “on acid.” The acid part is a cop-out; her voice is clear and direct, even when describing surreal or hyperreal situations, and her crisp descriptions are not kaleidoscopic or druggy in the least. The comparisons to other writers, apt or not, are never a list of her formative influences; she didn’t have any.
Comyns was born in 1909 in a big house on the Avon, fourth of the six children of a drunk father and an indifferent mother. The family managed to be aristocratic and poor at once, but like many aristocrats they [...]
Today, on the nearly-over Oprah Winfrey show: "One family comes forward about their secret relationship with Michael Jackson. Then, best-selling author Jonathan Franzen and Oprah's new book club pick." While Franzen has taken the Oprahtunity to recommend 34 books to America, Oprah's America has already weighed in on him. Note: sic throughout.
Emily72: I sware! don't people know how to raise kids anymore?! Parents keep apologizing for being incharge, for heavens sake! No wonder people are insecure and act like idiots.
Buckley06: I cannot understand what Oprah saw in this unless it is the constant political rants. If I have to read one more, I swear [...]
"At around 11 or 12, I became completely obsessed with reading, probably because I was in a hormonal shit storm and couldn’t deal with human beings. My recollection of my 6th grade year is spending each day with my head on my desk. After school, I went to the fantasy section of the Cambridge Public Library and sat on the floor, piling through each title; Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series, which I read several times, Lloyd Alexander’s various books like Taran Wanderer, some series about dragons which I am blanking on, Ursula Le Guin, Madeleine L’Engle, Narnia, etc." —The Magnetic Fields' Claudia Gonson discusses the books that [...]
This is an interesting idea, that web design (with its ads! And colors!) and also being on the web (with IMs! And diversions!) is bad for reading. I'm not sure I agree all told with these arguments but I do also enjoy me some Instapaper.
Some years back, my daughter wanted to attend a mommy-and-me girls' reading group with her best friend, and I said okay, fine. It emerged that this was a "women of color" mommy-and-me girls' reading group. I'm kind of honorary "of color," because I am Cuban, though loads of my milk-white relations were born in Spain. I've often thought how [...]
"I loved Inception. Can you recommend any books that would be similar?" There are some good recommendations: Greg Bear's Queen of Angels, Iain Banks' Transition, Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves; your mileage may vary.