Books

Stephen Colbert, Lena Dunham — Yes, Even James Franco — and the Era of Celebrity as Bookseller

I wrote a post a few years ago about Jewel’s 1998 bestselling book of poetry, A Night Without Armor. The book, while undeniably terrible, has probably sold more copies in one year than the bestselling books of poetry from the last five years combined. What does that tell you? For one, it says that with all the great poetry out there, the general public has really bad taste. But it also speaks volumes about the fact that a celebrity name attached to a book — whether they wrote it or not — sells copies. And although there was probably no study as to how much extra time customers stood in the poetry aisle, browsing the other titles, and possibly buying them, lured there because of A Night Without Armor, I have to believe at least a few young minds were drawn to poetry because of that book. Because, let’s face it: we all have to start somewhere, and that somewhere usually sucks. … Read More

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10 of the Most Depressing Places in Literature

After reading Tara Isabella Burton’s American Reader essay, “The Geography of Melancholy,” it’s natural to find yourself thinking about the most depressing cities, towns, and municipalities in literature. Burton points out that, in the real world, “Nearly every historic city has its brand of melancholy indelibly associated with it — each variety linked to the scars the city bears.” She also connects writers and the cities that influenced them — “Baudelaire’s Paris, Zweig’s Vienna, Morris’s Trieste.” There are many more, of course — here are a selection of other depressing places and the writers they inspired. … Read More

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10 Poetic Tributes to Cats

Esteemed American poet T. S. Eliot had a deep love of cats, evidenced in his 1939 collection of humorous poems, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. The whimsical work was originally composed to amuse his godchildren and friends, but earned the admiration of feline fanciers the world over (and inspired Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats). And Eliot isn’t the only poet with a fondness for four-legged furballs. We’ve collected ten other poems for pussycats — tributes to their mystique and reflections on their place in our (lesser) human… Read More

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20 Mind-Bending Aldous Huxley Book Covers

Today marks the 120th birthday of English novelist and prolific essayist Aldous Huxley. The Brave New World author’s scathing critique of the mass media and the government (and their use of technology) positioned him at the center of intellectual discourse and made him one of the most widely read science fiction authors of his time. Huxley’s vision of a dystopian society, his experiences with psychedelics, and his fascination with parapsychology and philosophical mysticism are evident throughout his works — and his book covers. Inspired by the author’s mind-bending tales and theories, enjoy this collection of Huxley book cover art worthy of his surreal stories. … Read More

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If “R + L = J” Blew Your Mind, Just Watch These Insane ‘Game of Thrones’ Conspiracy Theory Videos

In the past couple of weeks, n00bs who haven’t been reading A Song of Ice and Fire (and talking about it on Internet forums) since 1997 took notice of a certain fan theory called “R+L=J.” Its thesis — that Jon Snow is actually Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen’s kid, not Ned Stark’s — is so well-supported that the theory’s about as controversial as saying Tyrion’s your favorite character. But as we pointed out a few months ago, “R + L = J” is just a tip of the speculative iceberg. An iceberg that’s also home to YouTube user Preston Jacobs, whose theories are among the most comprehensive I’ve seen to date. They’re also completely addictive, and also a little bit batshit. … Read More

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Flavorwire Author Club: Nora Ephron’s Quintessential Writing on the Female Experience

I think of the Nora Ephron essay “On Maintenance” every time I feel guilty about spending $43 on a charcoal face mask that does wonders with ingrown hairs I am now certain only I noticed. “Sometimes I think that not having to worry about your hair anymore is the secret upside of death,” she writes. There are seven more paragraphs dedicated to getting rid of unwanted facial hair. Instantly I felt better about my own foolish womanhood. … Read More

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Book of the Week: Christopher Beha’s ‘Arts & Entertainments’

“Handsome” Eddie Hartley has “substandard sperm.” He’s been working with his wife to get pregnant, buying all sorts of expensive remedies (including $200 pillows), and now the only chance they have at starting a family is by going to the very expensive Hope Springs Fertility Center. The problem is, Eddie, a failed actor who is “good-looking in an entirely conventional way,” doesn’t make all that much money working as a drama teacher at the Catholic prep school he went to, and can’t even catch a break trying to get a job as a temp. … Read More

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The 30 Harshest Philosopher-on-Philosopher Insults in History

We’ve amused ourselves for a while now at Flavorwire with our ongoing survey of internecine mud-slinging in various areas of the arts: musicians, actors, authors, and filmmakers have all provided rich entertainment in the manifold ways they’ve fought amongst themselves. But for truly epic bitchiness and egotism, you need look no further than that most storied and venerable of academic disciplines: philosophy! The history of Western thought is peppered with thinkers taking aim at their peers — sometimes in a genteelly intellectual manner, and sometimes… um, less so (yes, Friedrich Nietzsche, this means you). Here are 30 of the best, from Aristotle to… Read More

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Flavorwire Author Club: Nora Ephron’s Guide to Dealing With Heartbreak Through ‘Heartburn’

I didn’t reread Nora Ephron’s only novel, Heartburn, last summer when my fiancé broke off our engagement, leaving me to move out of his Brooklyn apartment and onto a friend’s couch on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I did, however, watch the movie it’s based on, and for which Ephron wrote the screenplay, several times. It’s a near-perfect film, with Meryl Streep as Rachel Samstat, who is blindsided while several months pregnant when she discovers that her husband, Mark Feldman (played by Jack Nicholson), is in love with another woman. Ephron herself joked about the film years later at Meryl Streep’s AFI Lifetime Achievement tribute. “I highly recommend Meryl Streep play you,” she quipped. “If your husband is cheating on you with a carhop, get Meryl to play you. You will feel much better. If you get rear-ended in a parking lot, have Meryl Streep play you. If the dingo eats your baby, call Meryl.” … Read More

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