Since at least Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge, and now with Joshua Cohen’s Book of Numbers, we’ve seen the rise of the phrase “Internet novel” — as if anyone knows what that means. Even so, here is an incomplete chronology of the Internet novel, from 1984 to the present day, beginning with William Gibson’s Neuromancer.
Someone is always watching.
For the longest time, that idea underpinned grim visions of a totalitarian future in books and movies, from Nineteen Eighty-Four to The Hunger Games — cautionary tales about the fate awaiting a citizenry that allows itself to be deceived by the people in power.
Then the future arrived, and it turned out those bleak fantasies of an all-seeing surveillance state weren’t so farfetched: in the post-9/11 world, someone really is watching, be it Facebook mapping your life’s history for the sake of advertising dollars, or the National Security Agency keeping tabs on your phone calls and text messages in the name of freedom.
Here’s the thing: sometimes, you just want to read a good love story. Or at least, something with a little sex, a little passion, a few dramatic swoons. But a romance novel, per se? Nothing so gaudy or slapdash for you! You need real literature. Well, person who I’ve just made up (though I know you’re out there), here’s the answer: a selection of romantic books that will rev your motor (emotional or otherwise) but don’t fall into that taboo category of cheap paper and cheaper …Read More
Now that September is here and school is back in session, a writer’s thoughts turn to the eternal question: Is an MFA worth it? Ever since the publication of the Chad Harbach-edited anthology MFA vs. NYC: The Two Cultures of American Fiction earlier in the year, the perennial neurosis about whether or not an advanced degree in writing is worth it has become a progressively louder conversation. It’s one that we should be having, considering the explosion of the MFA in the past 40 years: from a mere 79 programs in 1979 to 854 today, according to Harbach. The MFA may even be having its moment — after all, the last shot of Girls Season 3 had Lena Dunham’s Hannah Horvath joyfully looking at her acceptance to Iowa. We checked in with some of our favorite writers from then and now to see what they think of the rise of the …Read More
The Best Things We Read on the Internet This Week: Shteyngart Blurbs Again, Walter Kirn vs. Nathaniel Rich
Listicles, tweets, your ex’s Facebook status, picture of dogs wearing costumes — the internet offers no shortage of entertaining stuff to look at. But there’s plenty of substantial writing out there, too, the pieces you spend a few minutes reading and a long time thinking about after you’ve closed the tab. In this weekly feature, Flavorwire shares the best of that category. This week: Shteyngart blurbs again, Walter Kirn vs. Nathaniel Rich, and more.
“The most amazing thing about the Shakira phenomenon is the craze that has gripped masses of children.” The late Gabriel García Márquez wrote that in his 2002 profile on Shakira for The Guardian. Even when covering one of the biggest pop stars in the world, the Nobel Prize winner’s music writing doesn’t rank anywhere near his classics like One Hundred Years of Solitude or Love in the Time of Cholera, but it does earn a spot alongside a few of our other favorite rock star/writer pairings.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Celebrate by getting yourself kissed today. Or, may we suggest finding a famous writer to smooch? In case you need a little inspiration (or just like to see writers making out), we’ve collected several adorable photos of famous authors in fond embraces, both vintage and quite recent.
Flavorwire Interview: Gary Shteyngart on ‘Little Failure,’ Telling His Own Story, and Balancing Sadness With Humor
In Little Failure, the new memoir by Gary Shteyngart, the Russian-born author doesn’t hold much back about his early days in his native land, his family’s move to New York when he was just a boy, his college years spent partying and growing his hair long at a Midwestern liberal arts school, his emergence as a writer with his 2002 debut novel The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, and his eventual return to his home country. Of course, these moments will sound familiar to readers of his fiction, because Shteyngart has used many of them in his three novels in one way or another. And while sprinkling autobiographical details into your fiction isn’t new, he has managed to create and sustain a particularly unique “Shteyngartian” voice.
2014 kicks off with the promise of cold and snow for many of us, making it the perfect time to just stay indoors and read books. Some of you might want to get caught up on the books you saw featured on the best-of lists that popped up at the end of last year, but the first month of the new calendar also offers a crop of great books. Here are some of the best to pick up now, or risk falling dangerously …Read More