Wake Up, Sheeple! Is William Deresiewicz’s ‘Excellent Sheep’ an Anti-Ivy League Manifesto or a Book-Length TED Talk?

Must a manifesto always be a rant? The process of reading William Deresiewicz’s Excellent Sheep, the book-length expansion of his 2008 viral article “The Disadvantages of an Elite Education,” originally published in The American Scholar, was frustrating for this reason: he’s absolutely correct about the ennui that seeps into the hoop-jumping lives of the Ivy League’s privileged students, an obstacle course that results in an adult life of not being able to understand the world one iota. But by making his argument in a manner that’s sloppy and slapdash, not even sourced, filled with vague anecdotal evidence culled from his teaching experiences, Deresiewicz leaves himself open to being discredited rather quickly. … Read More

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25 Great Pieces of Life Advice From Literature

Everyone could use a bit of advice now and then. But what if you’re the type who eschews all human contact and prefers to converse only with characters in your books? Well, er, then even they might not be able to help you. All kidding aside, as any avid reader will know, many of the great works of literature are filled with wisdom, which you could do worse than to take to heart — especially in these back-to-school weeks, a time when a little extra advice can always help. Here, you’ll find a few nuggets of humanhood as doled out by literary (read: fictional!) characters who know a thing or… Read More

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Debut Novels That Got Huge Advances: Where Are They Now?

Today marks the release of Matthew Thomas’s 640-page debut novel We Are Not Ourselves, a sprawling Irish-American family epic that has been garnering major buzz because of its big price tag: according to Page Six the book “got more than a $1 million advance in North America, and closed a six-figure UK deal at the London Book Fair.” Not too shabby, Matthew Thomas! But the question is: do big advances always herald big books? Here’s a look at a few debut novels that earned huge advances — and how they fared once they made it out into the real world. … Read More

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25 Authors Who Wrote Great Books Before They Turned 25

Picture it: teenage Mary Shelley was on a vacation getaway, with her husband Percy and some of his rambunctious poet friends, like that rogue Lord Byron… and out of the group of legends, it’s Shelley herself who arguably published the greatest work of all at the ridiculous age of 30: Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, a book that has penetrated our human consciousness. In honor of Shelley’s birthday this month, here’s a list of 25 other writers who created heartbreakingly beautiful work before they could get a discount on a rental… Read More

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2014 Hugo Award Winners Announced

Yesterday, at the 72nd Wold Science Fiction Convention, the World Science Fiction Society announced the winners of the 2014… Read More

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An Afternoon Drink With ‘My Drunk Kitchen’ Star and Cookbook Author Hannah Hart

Hannah Hart may have a YouTube show-turned-small media empire and brand new cookbook called My Drunk Kitchen, but over the course of a hour-long interview at Tom and Jerry’s bar in Soho, she wasn’t sipping anything. True to the ethos of her show, she may have looked like the biggest lush in the room, with two red-hot cocktails (because cocktail number one got spilled and the bartender made her another) and a ginger beer sitting in front of her. But she didn’t take a sip, and wasn’t particularly interested in the drink. She was too busy talking and joking. … Read More

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Jonathan Franzen Is No Martin Amis: Where Are America’s Literary Lotharios?

Over at The Guardian this morning, Sam Leith dissects “Why we love to hate Martin Amis,” especially, as now, when he has a new novel on the horizon. The verdict? It’s because he’s surly. It’s because he’s outspoken and sometimes offensive. It’s because of all his rumored fallings-out and romantic encounters and love children and that whole thing about his teeth. It’s because he’s, in general, “funny and outraging.” It’s also because, to varying degrees, he positions himself to be all those things. There is a kind of merry war betwixt the UK press and him, and it’s all very entertaining. … Read More

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