People see my head on a book and attach a tall body to it. The image of somebody that you have accorded status to in your mind is a large one; the Greeks always made the gods quite tall. I’m short. Shorter than you think.
Submitted by Blake on September 12, 2015 - 12:09pm
Shakespeare has not lost his place in this new world, just as, despite the grim jeremiads of the cultural pessimists, he has not lost his place in colleges and universities. On the contrary, his works (and even his image) turn up everywhere, and students continue to flock to courses that teach him, even when those courses are not required.
But as I have discovered in my teaching, it is a different Shakespeare from the one with whom I first fell in love.
And almost everyone gets it wrong. This is the most remarkable thing about “The Road Not Taken”—not its immense popularity (which is remarkable enough), but the fact that it is popular for what seem to be the wrong reasons. It’s worth pausing here to underscore a truth so obvious that it is often taken for granted: Most widely celebrated artistic projects are known for being essentially what they purport to be.
Is it possible that the literary sensibility—person—that produced a clutch of novels under the name Thomas Pynchon has had a fat new novel out since April, under a different name, only to encounter a virtual vacuum of notice? That relative anonymity may have been expected, or might even have been among its aspirations, to prove a point?
When Stephen King was announced as the winner of a medal for distinguished contribution to American letters in 2003, the eminent literary critic Harold Bloom said it was “a testimony to [the] idiocy” of the awarding organisation, the National Book Awards. On 10 September, no less than Barack Obama will present the novelist with the United States’ National Medal of Arts.
My thesis here is a modest one: that prolificacy is sometimes inevitable, and has its place. The accepted definition — “producing much fruit, or foliage, or many offspring” — has an optimistic ring, at least to my ear.
Not everyone feels that way. I remember a party where some self-appointed arbiter of literary taste joked that Joyce Carol Oates was like the old lady who lived in a shoe, and had so many children she didn’t know what to do. In truth, Ms. Oates knows exactly what she is doing, and why she is doing it. “I have more stories to tell,” she writes in her journals, and “more novels.” I’m glad of that, because I want to read them.
On Thursday JRR Tolkien's early story The Story of Kullervo will be published for the first time. The dark tale reveals that Tolkien's Middle Earth was inspired not only by England and Wales… but also by Finland.
When you think of the most astute minds of our time, you might well think of Ray Bradbury’s — but you probably don’t think of him as one of the most astute terrorist minds of our time. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, however, saw things differently. Collaborative news site MuckRock found that out through files “released to former MuckRocker Inkoo Kang [which] document the decade the Bureau spent trying to determine if Bradbury was, if not a card-carrying Communist, at least a sympathetic ‘fellow traveler.'” See snippets of documents here from 1959.
(Updated to add: but don’t go to the library and use the library book to claim your Shelfie, because that’s weird, and would also require you to write your name in a library book, but mostly it’s weird.)
Submitted by Bibliofuture on August 4, 2015 - 3:50pm
The story of the five-day interview between Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky and acclaimed novelist David Foster Wallace, which took place right after the 1996 publication of Wallace's groundbreaking epic novel, 'Infinite Jest.'
But Delany believes that, as women and people of color start to have “economic heft,” there is a fear that what is “normal” will cease to enjoy the same position of power. “There are a lot of black women writers, and some of them are gay, and they are writing about their own historical moment, and the result is that white male writers find themselves wondering if this is a reverse kind of racism. But when it gets to fifty per cent,” he said, then “we can talk about that.” It has nothing to do with science fiction, he reiterated. “It has to do with the rest of society where science fiction exists.”
Next year will mark the centenary of James’s death. Given that armies of academics, during these hundred years, have eagerly picked over his literary remains, it’s rather surprising how many very arresting items here have never been published or even cited before. One reason for this, we’re told at the outset, is that “the James family . . . held an interest in preserving a certain public image of their ancestor.”
Submitted by Bibliofuture on May 29, 2015 - 9:04am
Publishing's big week is almost over. The industry's annual convention, BookExpo America, ends Friday in New York, and on Saturday the publishing world opens its doors to the public with BookCon, where avid readers will get the chance to mix and mingle with their favorite authors.
Last year, the lack of diversity on author panels at BookCon spawned the We Need Diverse Books campaign, which in turn sparked renewed conversation about the lack of diversity in publishing. Ellen Oh, one of We Need Diverse Books' co-founders, says anger about the lack of diversity in publishing had been brewing for a long time, but when BookCon announced its guest list last year, it struck a nerve.
Submitted by Bibliofuture on May 26, 2015 - 12:29am
What if the devastating drought in the western U.S. doesn't end? A few years ago, the science fiction writer Paolo Bacigalupi started exploring what could happen.
"Lake Powell and Lake Mead were hitting historic lows, and they weren't re-filling the way they were supposed to. Las Vegas was, in fact, digging deeper and deeper intakes into Lake Mead," he remembers. "This question of scarcity. This question of too many people needing too little water."
Those questions inspired Bacigalupi to write The Water Knife, a noir-ish, cinematic thriller set in the midst of a water war between Las Vegas and Phoenix. The novel follows three people: a climate refugee, a journalist, and a "water knife" — a secret agent for Las Vegas's ruthless water czar. Think Chinatown meets Mad Max.
In his prose poem Eureka, Poe concludes that God and the human soul are pervasively present in the universe itself. Truth is intrinsic to reality, as it is to consciousness. The pedantic voice of the postscript knows and does not know the meaning of the ciphers found at Tsalal, “I have graven it within the hills, and my vengeance upon the dust within the rock.” Poe has brought the tale to a region that, in his place and time, was far beyond the common understanding, and perhaps beyond his own as well, except in its deepest reaches, where he knew that God is just.
After a long day of answering questions and serving up information to the public (students, etc), a librarian could use a laugh. So pick up a copy of Roz Warren's OUR BODIES, OUR SHELVES: A COLLECTION OF LIBRARY HUMOR (HOPress, 2015) and see what might be between the covers that tickles your funnybone.
Here's an excerpt from one story: Freeze! It's the Library Police [a librarian's fantasy of recovering stolen books]
"Open up bitch! It's LIBRARY SQUAD!
Library Squad! A group of enraged middle-aged librarians. We're brainy, we're relentless. We'll hunt you down. We'll never give up. We know the Dewey Decimal Sysytem and we're not afraid to use it. And we always get our book.
And if you resist? We'll shush you. Permanently."
In addition to her library duties at the Bala Cynwyd Library right outside Philadelphia, Roz Warren writes forThe New York Times, The Funny Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Jewish Forward and The Huffington Post. And she‘s been featured on the Today Show. Our Bodies, Our Shelves is her thirteenth humor book. Years ago, Roz left the practice of law to take a job at her local public library “because I was tired of making so damn much money.” She doesn't regret it.