The Year’s Most Beautiful and Interesting Art Books

We could argue about the future of reading until the end of time, but there’s at least one type of book that you will always need to hold in your hands: the art book. This collection of ten gorgeous books covers subjects as diverse as tattoos, clothes, space, dogs, glamour, and fishermen. Any of them would make a wonderful holiday… Read More

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The Strange Case of Cormac McCarthy, Screenwriter

We rarely appraise our most revered literary writers on the basis of their screenwriting. The bald truth is that most great writers never wrote original screenplays, and when they did, they were seldom produced. (Even the crop of famous literary men who dabbled in Hollywood — Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Nabokov, Dos Passos — routinely failed.) Nor do we judge these writers on their adapted screenplays, precisely because these works were adaptations and not originals, but also because Hollywood is a collaboration machine that historically chews up and swallows the solitary imagination, at least during production. … Read More

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Debut Author Signs Seven-Figure Book Deal for Novel About “Wonderfully Dysfunctional Family”

Despite constantly bemoaning that it’s in crisis and free-fall, big publishing can still cook up a seven-figure book deal… Read More

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The Best Poetry Books of 2014

If you fell asleep on poetry in 2014, you might not actually be asleep: you might be dead. Poetry this year not only proved itself the liveliest and healthiest genre of writing, it also showed itself to be the most intellectually voracious. (I would even argue that one of the best American novels of 2014 was written by a poet.) Here are the ten best books of poetry from 2014. Frankly, they may just be the ten best books. … Read More

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“Wild” Gives the Wilderness Narrative a Much-Needed Feminist Spin

Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild, the basis for the Reese Witherspoon film arriving in theaters tonight, is often pitched as a story of an arduous hike that helped Strayed move past her grief over her mother and self-destructive behavior. But as Strayed has said, it’s not just about grief. It’s a literal walk towards self-acceptance with overtly feminist themes. … Read More

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Indispensable Quotes From James Baldwin on Race in America

This week marks the anniversary of James Baldwin’s death, which occurred twenty-seven years ago in Paris. This week, James Baldwin: The Last Interview and Other Conversations (Melville House) appeared on my desk, a feat of timing that felt resonant during a week where the concept of justice, the idea that Black lives matter, felt very far away as protests broke out — “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” — in New York and across the country after another miscarriage of justice; when a grand jury failed to indict the Staten Island police officer whose chokehold led to Eric Garner’s death, a case that is just one in a tragic line of unarmed black men unfairly targeted by the police force. … Read More

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25 Genre Novels That Should be Classics

There’s been a lot of talk about genre in the air recently (well, really, when isn’t there?) — what it means, whether it’s changed, whether it’s even useful or important anymore. But no matter what is said, there’s still that lingering stigma that keeps worthy works of genre (for clarity, we’re mostly talking fantasy and science fiction, with a little historical fiction, mystery and crime thrown in for good measure) from ascending to full classic status: being taught in high schools, appearing on all-time best-book lists, etc. Some genre novels have already crossed the border into pure classic territory — Brave New World, Slaughterhouse-Five and 1984 are all genre and established classics by any measuring stick, The Lord of the Rings is so ubiquitous and grand that it’s forced itself into the canon, and let’s not forget that Wuthering Heights is a ghost story, and so, of course, is Beloved. To add to that list, here are 25 genre novels that should be considered classics. Add even more, if that’s your desire, in the comments. … Read More

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Flavorwire Excerpt: Ursula K. Le Guin on How Writers Get Inspired

The World Split Open: Great Authors on How and Why We Write (Tin House) is an essential anthology of speeches made by leading writers at  Oregon’s Literary Arts Foundation, which is celebrating thirty years strong in 2014. It’s a pleasure to read writers like Chimamanda Adiche, Margaret Atwood, Marilynne Robinson, and Jeanette Winsterson on how and why we write and the mystery of the muse and inspiration.

It’s full of quotes that you’ll just want to put over your desk, like this quip from Ursula K. Le Guin: “That “anxiety of influence” stuff is just testosterone talking.” Le Guin’s full piece, “Where Do You Get Your Ideas From?” is a marvelous meditation on inspiration and how to write  and how current ideas and problems get mediated through techniques used in fantasy and genre. Read an excerpt from Le Guin’s piece below; The World Split Open is now available in stores and online. … Read More

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In the Heart of the Heart of Fiction: A Masterpiece Resurfaces

I was a solitary child, a reader. I spent my childhood in Kentucky and Indiana, two places that, in the minds of others, may not sound distinct. In my memory, though, the states are irreconcilable. In Kentucky, I roamed the streets and rested on the grass that strikes the eye as blue in images. In Indiana, I sat in rooms, an array of identical rooms, reading books. Later in my life, during college, in a small gray town fastened to a cornfield, still in Indiana, I took my reading life and shoved it gracelessly into writing. I started to believe that a reader, somewhere, might like what I had written. Then I found a story set near my school — William Gass’ “In the Heart of the Heart of the Country” — and I abandoned this belief wholeheartedly. I no longer wrote fiction to please. Like Gass, I began to write purely to balance the scales in a misaligned world. … Read More

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