Classic Celebrity Memoirs and Their Contemporary Counterparts

“Everybody needs his memories,” Saul Bellow once wrote. “They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door.” These days, the same can be true of fame. It’s no surprise then that celebrity memoirs and autobiographies continue to flood the market — much to our personal glee. As self-proclaimed aficionados, we’ve decided to help you navigate the waters; here are a few contemporary titles, paired with a soft focus homage to their vintage predecessors, never to be forgotten. If you’ve got a recommendation to add to our list, be sure to leave it in the comments. … Read More

  • 3

Oprah’s Top Literary Scandals

Oprah’s name signifies much more than the famous talk show host herself — it stands for character: lifting oneself up, striving for human decency, searching for philanthropy and constantly improving one’s self-awareness. Oprah often guides us “to live our best life” by showing us… what to purchase. In fact, the New York Times has called her “the most powerful endorsement in pop culture.” And, the pressure for Oprah’s “picks” to perform is most apparent when she reaches out to the literary world. According to Business Week, “Publishers estimate that her power to sell a book is anywhere from 20 to 100 times that of any other media personality.” With those odds and that much personal pull, something is bound to go awry. Here are a few titles she touched that turned to gold, but not without a dash of drama and controversy along the way. … Read More

  • 7

Double Trouble: The Good and the Bad of Literary Puns

Puns, rhymes, and other wordplay have long been the hallmark of winning children’s lit. Treasured works like Alice in Wonderland and A Light in the Attic have proven that the deeper the rabbit hole of absurd double meanings and nonsensical tongue twisters, the better the brain candy. Next in line in this fanciful tradition is Salman Rushdie’s pun-filled boy adventure story, Luka and the Fire of Life. From Fire Bugs with heated tempers to in-console-able mothers who don’t understand video game paraphernalia, Rushdie creates an alternate universe full of doppelgangers and tellingly named distant lands that make for a treacherous journey rife with double meaning and obvious humor.

Outside the realm of children’s books, the pun as a literary technique has held a patchy reputation. Although puns today are mostly associated with their unfortunate ubiquity in porn titles and textbook humor, virtually every literary genre through the ages has employed the pun — whether for wit, flourish, or thematic exploration. Here is a list of some creative uses of the pun, and the notable highs and lows of its use as applied by everyone from bards to boy bands to The Bible itself. … Read More

  • 2

Required Reading: 8 Surprising Serialized Stories

Charles Burns’ X’ed Out is not something to curl up in your back pocket for a quick read on the subway. Each panel weaves abstract concepts into the story of an aspiring teen poet/artist whose growing pill dependency can’t numb certain uninvited images of alien-eating slugs, fetal pigs, and large incubating eggs. Reminiscent of a David Cronenberg film in its lurid dreamscapes that simultaneously confuse and enhance, this book demands time for well-paced consumption.

Unlike Burns’ Black Hole, which was put out as a series of traditional comics before complete publication by Pantheon Press, X’ed Out is the first installment of what will fittingly be a longer series of three. Sure, this method of serialized storytelling is most often associated with its 19th century heyday, but, as the following eight stories illustrate, the format has had its share of enticingly bizarre ups and downs since the days of Dickens. … Read More

  • 1