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
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
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
If you like awards, this week has been super-fun, between the MacArthur “Genius” Grants (shout out Alison Bechdel!) and the National Book Awards’ longlists in the young adult fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and fiction categories. … Read More
Today marks the birthday of literature’s dark romantic and master of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe. The mad, mustachioed author initiated the modern detective story, helped define early science fiction, and embodied the definition of “troubled writer” — but it was his horror stories that marked his legacy. Inspired by his gothic greats, we’ve handpicked ten short tales of classic terror you can read online right… Read More
Fans of #longreads may already be aware of Byliner, a site that spotlights “great reads by great writers” and sells lengthy original essays by the likes of Mark Bittman and Ann Patchett as one-off, $1-4 downloads. As Jacket Copy reports, Byliner will expand into fiction beginning Monday — and… Read More
If you’re like us, Rae Bryant‘s skin-crawling (make that gnawing) story “Intolerable Impositions” will make you simultaneously laugh and cringe at the squeamish awkwardness of one-night stand intimacies — and the sacrifices we’re willing to make to avoid them. Set to be included in her upcoming short story collection The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals, from Brooklyn indie publishers Patasola Press, this witty piece of flash fiction is at once strangely fantastical and familiar. Click through to check it out.
Author George Saunders, the former objectivist and now, safe to say, genius satirist, is by no means new to awards. With both the MacArthur Foundation and Guggenheim Fellowships to his name, it comes as no surprise that Saunders’ short story, Victory Lap, recently grabbed a nod for ASME’s 2010 National Magazine Awards in its fiction category. Originally published in The New Yorker on October 5th, 2009, the story toys with perspective, channeling the voices of three distinctive… Read More
After collecting data from 13,000 bookstores, websites and non-traditional bookselling stores, the Daily Beast has rounded up the top reads within 16 U.S. cities. While fiction picks seemed to waver between Dan Brown, Kathryn Stockett, James Patterson and John Grisham, the non-fiction reads offered… Read More
John Banville mixes mythology and mathematics in The Infinities, the first novel published under his own name since he won the Booker Prize in 2005.
The Infinities chronicles half-hearted memories, dreams, and fears at the deathbed of mathematician/physicist Adam Godley, whose struggling family and a few matter-of-fact Greek gods have come to attend his passing — and fulfill desires of their own. Set in the Irish countryside of a vaguely alternate universe, the book resembles playwright Heinrich von Kleist’s Amphitryon in story, but takes on an added dimension of grounded surrealism and wit. … Read More