Books

Move Over, James Franco: Tom Hanks Pens So-So Fiction for ‘New Yorker’

Move over James Franco and Steve Martin: you aren’t the only fiction-penning celebrities around. This week, The New Yorker features a short story by Tom Hanks — yes, that Tom Hanks — which seems to be heavily influenced by his time working on Apollo 13. While reading, I had do my very best to approach the story, a futuristic space-jaunt called “Alan Bean Plus Four”, as a lighthearted foray into fiction by a revered actor (director, screenwriter, producer, and cultural figure) and not as something I would mercilessly savage if I were in a fiction workshop and a “packet” of my peers’ writing had just arrived in my arms for a pre-class critique. … Read More

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Flavorwire Interview: Kim Gottlieb-Walker on Capturing John Carpenter’s Landmark Horror Classics

Her work has taken her from the Free Speech Movement in California and the underground press to the golden age of reggae (capturing Bob Marley) and a Jimi Hendrix interview in 1967 (her candid portraits of the singer are featured in the Hendrix “bible,” Classic Hendrix). But photographer Kim Gottlieb-Walker’s encounters with celebrity weren’t limited to music. She became the set photographer for filmmaker John Carpenter, capturing stills of his iconic genre films — including Halloween, The Fog, Escape from New York, Halloween II, and Christine. Her behind-the-scenes images offer insight into one of cinema’s masters of horror — a maverick artist who has thrilled and chilled us since 1974. The Carpenter photographs are the subject of a newly released book from Titan Books, On Set with John Carpenter. We recently spoke with Gottlieb-Walker about the making of Halloween, being a woman in a male-dominated industry, and the greatest Carpenter film faces. … Read More

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A Brief and Incomplete Survey of New Types of Online Literature

Last week, T Magazine published a game of exquisite corpse featuring a selection of excellent fiction writers, from Jenny Offill and James Patterson to Zadie Smith and Ben Marcus. The game was light and refreshing; the story itself twists into absurdity as some of the authors — notably the insidious R.L. Stine — appear to be pranking their peers and sort of hacking the plot as it grows. I found the form of the story simple but genuinely interesting, so I decided to pool together this chronology (or survey) of recent developments in digital or online literary forms. This is by no means a comprehensive list, nor is it meant to be. (I have, though, included some print projects that derive their form from digital media.) But it could be a starting point for a broader discussion about new literary forms, especially those new types of fiction (and criticism) that are popping up, rapidly, on Twitter and elsewhere. … Read More

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“Amazon Is Hurting America”: NY Times Columnist On Why the Hachette Conflict Goes Way Beyond Books

“Amazon.com, the giant online retailer, has too much power, and it uses that power in ways that hurt America.” Thus begins Monday’s ominously blunt column by New York Times regular and Nobel-prize winner Paul Krugman. Krugman, who covers the economy from a progressive perspective, does not approach the controversial question of Amazon: good or bad? as a an author with a recent book out, nor as a rabid culture consumer (although I did see him at a St. Vincent concert in Brooklyn once; shoutout to Paul Krugman’s music taste!) Instead, he’s writing as a politically-savvy economist who sees a company beginning to get out of control. And Krugman has some important thoughts about what Amazon has become so dangerous — not a monopoly, per se, but rather a monopsony. … Read More

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Watch: Marcel the Shell Has a New Video

When she’s not making Republicans explode with her “pro-abortion” romantic comedy or telling wonderfully elaborate fart jokes, sometimes Jenny Slate is a… Read More

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50 of the Scariest Short Stories of All Time

It’s that time of year again, when the pumpkins come out, the fake cobwebs are hung and we feel that dormant urge to be chilled, thrilled and spooked to our bones. Get out your flashlights, because a scary story awaits — actually, make that fifty of them. Now, there’s more to scary stories than goblins, ghouls, blood and your general horror — here there be monsters of many kinds, existential and literal, extraordinary and everyday. And remember: like beauty, fear is in the bloody eye of the beholder. So whether you yearn for classic horror or literary fiction guaranteed to make your skin crawl, read on. If you dare! … Read More

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Katha Pollit on Abortion and Her Controversial New Book ‘Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights’

In Katha Pollitt’s new book Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, the longtime poet, essayist, and columnist for The Nation turns her eye towards the state of abortion today in 2014. What she finds is stark. Forty years after Roe Vs. Wade, abortion is under attack — from the erosion of state laws to the closing of clinics to the wishy-washy language used even by so-called liberals (i.e. “Safe, legal, and rare.) In Pro, Pollitt argues for a new framework for abortion where it’s normalized, safe, and a humdrum part of women’s lives, in a world where women’s health — physically and economically — is prioritized. It’s a challenging, smart book, and it will change what you think about and talk about when the topic of abortion comes up. Over a coffee on the upper west side, I talked with Pollitt about her book and why we need to pay attention to the political attack on abortion. … Read More

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10 Scary Stories You Can Listen to Right Now

Nothing takes us back to our childhood faster than listening intently while someone reads us a story. Since Halloween is right around the corner, how about we make it a scary story—perfect to curl up with on a dark and stormy night. We might be too old for trick-or-treating, but no one can stop us from enjoying these creepy audiobooks and radio dramas. Campfire tales, urban legends whispered about during sleepovers, and bedtime stories have nothing on these chillers. Happy Halloween. … Read More

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10 New Translated Books to Read Right Now

Next month, American readers will be able to suss out why Patrick Modiano (of all people) won the Nobel Prize, when Yale University Press releases Suspended Sentences: Three Novellas. In the meantime, here are ten amazing new (or fairly new, or about-to-be-published) translated works that demand to be read right now. … Read More

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Zadie Smith, R.L. Stine, Ben Marcus & More Collaborate on Wild Exquisite Corpse Short Story

Perhaps in college you were interested in the surrealists, and you played Exquisite Corpse. Or, more likely, perhaps in… Read More

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