Books

Mona Simpson’s ‘Casebook’ Is the Latest Great Novel by One of America’s Masters of Character

I find it almost as interesting as I do disappointing when people aren’t familiar with Mona Simpson or her work. Maybe you know her as the younger sister of Steve Jobs, who she did not meet until she was 25, and for whom she wrote a moving and eloquent essay. And if that doesn’t jog your memory, maybe you’re familiar with The Simpsons character named after her: Homer’s long-lost mother, Mona Simpson. Certainly those are points of interest, but what’s most important to know is that there are few American fiction writers who write characters as unforgettable as Simpson’s, and there are even fewer who explore bizarre family dynamics like she does. … Read More

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The Skeptic’s Guide to John Updike

What’s yr take on Updike? Misogynist? Genius? King of the WASPs? Guy you only know about because your parents had a few of his books on the shelf? Writer’s writer whose style you envy? Or is he a writer whose reputation has been unfairly maligned? This is the double-sided coin you flip when discussing Updike: he wrote beautifully, often flawlessly — but he’s also the prime example of post-war American white dudes whose work treats women like either like helpless idiots or, well, witches. But if you’re willing to read him simply for the craft, and can deal with the awkwardness of his outdated way of thinking, then you might really enjoy Updike. And if you already like his work, Adam Begley’s excellent new biography, Updike, will give you more insight into a writer you might still be conflicted about reading. … Read More

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National Poetry Month Poem of the Day: “Benihana” by LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs

To celebrate National Poetry Month, Flavorwire will be posting a poem a day. LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs provides today’s poem, and… Read More

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25 Samuel Beckett Quotes That Sum Up the Hilarious Tragedy of Human Existence

We’d like to wish avant-garde icon Samuel Beckett a happy birthday, but something tells us he’d take issue with that. Beckett’s words are tender blows to the heart — superbly morose, always acerbic, and unrelentingly pessimistic. The novelist and playwright had a lot to say about the absurdities of modern life and the tragicomic nature of human existence. Taking quotes from his prolific oeuvre and other sources, celebrate Beckett’s birthday by revisiting his thoughts on the boredom and suffering of being. … Read More

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Flavorwire Author Club: Muriel Spark’s ‘The Driver’s Seat’ Is a Brief Yet Powerful Thrill Ride

The first two words of the third chapter of Muriel Spark’s scant little book The Driver’s Seat should be an all-caps “SPOILER ALERT.” After all, this is how she begins the chapter, just 25 pages into the narrative: “She will be found tomorrow morning dead from multiple stab-wounds, her wrists bound with a silk scarf and her ankles bound with a man’s necktie, in the grounds of an empty villa, in a park of the foreign city to which she is traveling on the flight now boarding at Gate 14.” … Read More

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National Poetry Month Poem of the Day: ‘At This Moment of Time’ by Delmore Schwartz

To celebrate National Poetry Month, Flavorwire will be posting a poem a day. For today’s installment, we present a… Read More

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Book of the Week: ‘The Marrying of Chani Kaufman’ by Eve Harris

Novelists, more often than not, are tourists in their own stories. They travel to unfamiliar places and commit minor transgressions, from comically butchering the local tongue to ignoring the customs and traditions of the place they’re visiting. The ugly tourist, the one with very little regard for the place they’re visiting, only impressed by the scenery and the exoticism of someplace unfamiliar, has a literary match in the ugly novelist: one who picks a place or culture for their own artistic gains and totally fails to write an adequate representation. … Read More

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