Everyone knows that all authors are totally crazy, right? After all, that’s what makes so many of them so brilliant. But today, on the anniversary of Ezra Pound’s federally mandated release from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for the criminally insane, where he had been held for 13 years following his arrest on charges of treason, we celebrate those authors who have actually been institutionalized for their mental illnesses (or, in some cases, for what others thought was mental illness). … Read More
Savoring a book for weeks, months, and sometimes years inspires a natural curiosity about the person behind the words. Several scribes have reached cult celebrity status with voracious audiences, but others remain an enigma — their voices and image seldom captured, often due to lapses in technological advancement. After spotting a rare video featuring Nineteen Eighty-Four author George Orwell on Open Culture, we realized how many writers have evaded their close-up — by choice and by fate. Watch the rare footage of famous authors that we found after the break. The videos offer an intimate glimpse of literature’s most amazing minds. … Read More
Today sees the release of Catherynne M. Valente’s Six-Gun Snow White, a novella that sets the classic tale of Snow White in the Old West — a trick we’ve never quite seen before. To celebrate the book, and to suggest a little extra reading to those who are excited about it, we’ve chosen ten bizarre, out-there literary adaptations of fairy tales (which, let’s be honest, started out pretty strange in the first place) to add to your library. Maybe not your kids’ libraries, though. After the jump, ten of the strangest, best fairy tale reinterpretations we’ve ever read — and as always, if we missed your favorite, add it to our list in the comments. … Read More
You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again: it’s a shame people don’t write letters anymore. Especially writers, whose missives are often so beautifully composed and simply inspiring that we hoard them in volume upon volume. We’ve already put together a collection of authors’ letters to their young fans, but this week, we spotted this wonderful letter from Sherwood Anderson to his son over at Brain Pickings, and we were inspired to dig a little further into the letters writers send their own children. After the jump, read loving, advice-filled, gentle parental love letters from some of our favorite authors to some of their favorite people — their kids. … Read More
Well, we’ve made it folks: it’s the end of the world. Or, er, maybe it will be, sometime today. In these end times, we’ve been thinking about our dear friend P.J. O’Rourke, who once quipped a quip that’s always nagging at the back of our minds: “always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” Well, readers, the day has come. Now, whether anyone else will be around to see your cool death-read is a separate question, but if you need a little guidance as to what to keep on your person for posterity, we’re here for you. After the jump, a few books we think would send you off with a bang — whether today or years from now. Get on it. … Read More
[Editor's note: Your devoted Flavorwire team is taking Memorial Day off, but we've left you with some of our favorite summer-related features that you may have missed the first time around. This post originally ran June 26, 2011. Enjoy!]
We don’t know about you, but now that it’s officially summertime, we want to spend as much time in our bathing suits as humanly possible, and so, it seems, did many of our favorite writers. After all, even the moodiest of authors needs a little sunshine now and again to chase the pain away. Whether that works or not is a whole other story. Click through for our gallery of literary greats in their bathing suits, but be warned — they’re not all pin-up shots. Sure, Sylvia and Anne are bathing beauties in addition to being quality wordsmiths, but old Ernest looks decidedly doughy around the edges. Oh well, he had other talents. All we wonder is, what were they reading on the beach? … Read More
[Editor's note: While your Flavorwire editors take a much-needed holiday break, we're revisiting some of our most popular features of the year. This post was originally published June 12, 2011.] It’s a well-known stereotype that many literary authors are also raging drunkards. Which, forgive us, doesn’t make us want to emulate them any less. In fact, now that it’s summer, we can’t think of anything better than to sip a cool drink while typing away at our — er, laptops — out on the porch in the sweet summer night air. So in the interest of pure academic speculation, we’ve comprised a roundup of some of our favorite writers and the drinks they favored during all their late work nights and boozy afternoons. We’re not saying that downing a mojito will make you write like Hemingway, but hey — it couldn’t hurt. Click though for our list, and let us know what beverages you favor during your own deep contemplations and compositions. … Read More
There’s nothing like a well-stocked library to enhance a home. Especially when that library has been outfitted with books chosen by some of the choosiest readers of all — the authors themselves. We recently caught a peek at the literary collections of a few contemporary novelists in Leah Price’s excellent and newly released Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books, but we admit that our library-lust wasn’t quite sated, and we had to go hunting for more. We’ve already shown you a choice selection of the libraries of the rich and famous, but here, inspired by Price’s book, we’re focusing on the libraries, studies, and carefully organized bookshelves of the authors themselves. Click through to see a few snapshots of the libraries of famous authors, and let us know which ones inspire you to curl up and read in the comments. … Read More
Sometimes even the most literary among us need some suggestions. And who better to oblige than the authors themselves? Welcome to Bookshelf, wherein we ask authors to design us a fantasy library, giving us their recommendations for the perfect reading material on a variety of topics. This week, we are treated to a to-read list full of twisted fairy tales by Helen Oyeyemi, the author of four novels (including 2009′s wonderful White is for Witching), the most recent of which, Mr. Fox, comes out this week from Riverhead Books.
We thought Oyeyemi perfect to suggest books about subversive witchery and remixed folklore, since Mr. Fox itself is in many ways a fantastic intertextual retelling of the Bluebeard tale, only here Bluebeard is a writer who keeps killing the same imaginary woman again and again. The novel also tackles the relationship between muse and artist, shows the way characters can both be and not be one another, themselves, someone else, and manages to subvert the classic fairy tale logic over and over again while still being wholly satisfying, funny, and perfectly dark. We asked Oyeyemi to suggest some of her own favorite twisted fairy tales, whether concerning wicked stepmothers, houses on chicken legs, or the king of the rats, so check out her picks after the jump and prepare to fall into another world.
Author photo by Saneesh Sukumaran. … Read More
Here’s a challenge: Can you identify some of contemporary literature’s most famous voices from just six words of their life story? We’ve pulled some of our favorite pithy memoirs from It All Changed in an Instant (SMITH Magazine’s new sequel to Not Quite What I Was Planning), and blacked out the attribution to make things interesting. If you’re feeling stumped, don’t feel bad (and look at the tags on this post for hints), some of them are deceptively simple.
So would you believe me anyway? – James Frey
Heart fattens, skin thins. Who knew? – Sloane Crosley … Read More