‘Sweetness # 9′: Is Commodity Horror Becoming a Cliché in American Satire?

Imagine if every problem your cranky grandparent might identify as part of the current “American condition” – whatever that is – could be blamed on a certain product. Anxiety-addled yet apathetic? Obese yet calorie-counting? Double-speaking to oblivion? In Stephen Eirik Clark’s Colbert-bumped debut novel Sweetness #9, the (possible) culprit for all negative facets of the American condition is a pink sugar substitute called Sweetness #9. The guilt-stricken narrator tested the substance on monkeys and rats in the ’70s, and spends most of his life trying to hide his involvement with the cloying agent responsible for American malaise. … Read More

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Against Ogling “Hot” YA Authors

Recently, BuzzFeed published a fairly absurd (even for BuzzFeed) article about YA author Pierce Brown. Or to be precise, about — and only about — the attractiveness of YA author Pierce Brown. It prompted a funny response from a BookRiot writer. It has some cute animals in it. But it might be bad for books — or at least bad for young readers. … Read More

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Kate Atkinson’s Next Novel Will Be a ‘Companion’ to ‘Life After Life’

Book nerds rejoice: a new Kate Atkinson novel is on its way to you.

According to Atkinson’s publisher Transworld,… Read More

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As Film and TV Steal Its Narrative Thunder, Literature Has to Do What Only Literature Can Do

This morning at The Guardian, Thomas McMullan wrote about how “challenging writing” is growing in popularity, at least if the prizes being awarded to experimental novels — like Eimar McBride’s debut novel A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing — are any indication. This, obviously, is heartening news for anyone who bemoans the general dumbing-down of so much pop culture, or just anyone who loves weird, difficult writing and wants to read more of it. … Read More

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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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