Books

The Disappearance of the Strident Protest Novel: ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ at 163

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published on this day in 1862, is known for many things. Jane Smiley thinks it’s an early exemplar of the Great American Novel about race, family, and the American soul, the forgotten yin to Huck Finn‘s yang. Many 20th-century appraisers, notably James Baldwin, excoriate it as the originator of deeply racist tropes, most obviously the titular one. Yet Henry Louis Gates, Jr., has refuted Baldwin to call it a masterpiece. … Read More

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Zoella’s Clockwork Novels: Fanfiction, Ghostwriters, and the Bizarre, Automated Future of Publishing

Another year, another novel churned out by the YouTube Megastar-Publishing Complex. This week, the Guardian announced that Zoe “Zoella” Sugg, Internet superstar and “author” of Girl Online, last year’s runaway hit and the fastest-selling debut novel of all time, will publish a sequel, the appropriately titled Girl Online 2. Only, as is well documented, Sugg didn’t write the novel, even though she said she did. The book’s jacket copy finds Zoella confiding to her fans: “My dream has been to write a book, and I can’t believe it’s come true.” But, as it turns out, the book was ghostwritten, factory produced by an underlaborer named Siobhan Curham, who wrote the book for a measly £7,000 to £8,000. … Read More

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Here’s the Cover for Jonathan Franzen’s ‘Purity’, Due September 1st

Jonathan Franzen, according to the press copy (or maybe jacket copy) from his forthcoming novel Purity, is “a major author… Read More

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‘Stories We Tell’ Director Sarah Polley Is Writing a New Adaptation of ‘Little Women,’ with Amy Pascal Producing

Little Women (Louisa May Alcott’s classic coming-of-age story set just after the Civil War) is getting a remake, reports … Read More

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What Meili Cady Learned From Being a Twentysomething Drug Smuggler

In Meili Cady‘s compulsively readable memoir Smoke: How a Small-Town Girl Accidentally Wound Up Smuggling 7,000 Pounds of Marijuana With the Pot Princess of Beverly Hills, we meet a young, bright-eyed Cady as she moves to Los Angeles to become a struggling actress and gets snagged in the web of master manipulator Lisette Lee. Lee claimed to be the “the Korean Paris Hilton,” and an heir to the Samsung fortune. In the name of friendship, Lee hired Cady to be her “personal assistant,” a job that required taking private jets to Ohio, an ostensibly fabulous perk that was — whoops — the front for a million-dollar pot smuggling operation.

If you’ve read the Rolling Stone article on Lee’s life, “The Gangster Princess of Beverly Hills,” you have an idea of how long the high life lasted, and the truth that came out after the fall. I had the chance to talk to Cady about what it was like to be a twentysomething drug smuggler, and where she’s going from here.

… Read More

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The 25 Most Homoerotic Friendships in Literature

Homoeroticism refers to same-sex desire, not necessarily consummated. Critics have long found evidence of that desire in some of the cherished close friendships in classic literature. Looking at books this way adds depth not only to our understanding of the original works, but to our understanding of how complex and layered human relationships can be. Here are 25 queer, or queer-seeming, friendships in classics from the 19th century through today. Some are up for debate, and some are obviously more than just friendships — but all share an element of friendship and… Read More

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