Though Tom Wolfe’s last novel, 2004′s I Am Charlotte Simmons, fell flat for many readers and reviewers — Michiko Kakutani called it “disappointingly empty” — some critics are heralding his new effort, Back to Blood, which hit bookstores this week, as his comeback book. Only time will tell, of course, but the idea got us thinking about a few other important books that have pulled some of our favorite authors back from the brink of oblivion (or worse, bad reviews). After the jump, read about the many ways authors have dusted off and recharged their careers with a well-placed tome, and as always, add any we’ve missed in the comments. … Read More
As you might have noticed, we love us some meta literature here at Flavorwire. So when we heard about Ariel S. Winter’s The Twenty-Year Death, a novel in three novels, each in the style of a different mystery writer, which hits bookstores next week, we asked the author to give us a rundown on some of his favorite works of meta-fiction.
“When it comes to novels,” he writes, “I’ve always been as excited by form as by story. Narrators within narrators, footnotes, colored ink, unique page layout, frame narratives, genre-bending, blank pages, photographs; these all pique my interest. However, I’ve had to learn that when I discuss my own novel The Twenty-Year Death, I need to lead with story rather than form or my interlocutor loses interest. Perhaps that’s because playing with form can be so hard to do right. If story is sacrificed for form, a novel’s no fun to read. If unique form seems unnecessary for the telling of the story, then these tricks feel only like tricks, unearned. It is only when a novel can be told in no other way, and remains entertaining and enlightening, that a book with unusual form works.”
“This list includes books that use all of the above techniques, and challenge the reader by telling stories in new ways,” Winter continues. “I limited myself to novels written in English (with one exception) and arranged the list chronologically. So if you want to read something a little different, these books are a good place to start.” Click through to read Winter’s picks, and then if you feel so moved, feel free to add to his list in the comments! … Read More
Last week saw the publication in English of France’s resident literary bad boy Michel Houellebecq’s newest novel, The Map and the Territory, heralded by some as his magnum opus. The resurgence of the literary great got us to thinking about other literary bad boys who rocked the boat and won notoriety for it — most of them buoyed by endless talent, or just star power. After all, everyone loves to hate (or in some cases, loves to love) the literary rebels and the scandalous men of letters. Click through to check out our list of legendary literary bad boys — and if we’ve forgotten your favorite enfant terrible, be sure to let us know in the comments. … Read More
1. Old Ideas, the lovely Leonard Cohen’s first studio album in seven years, isn’t due out until January, but you can already stream one of the tracks called “Show Me The Place” here.
2. Julie Delpy has signed on to direct The Right Profile, a biopic about Clash frontman Joe Strummer that will… Read More
We are nearing the end of Banned Books Week and realized that there have been so many titles in the past few years that have ruffled the feathers of elected officials, holy men, and her highness, Oprah. Some have been great, some have been horrible, and some just downright racist. We’re always curious about books that are deemed so dangerous that the public shouldn’t be able to read them. Although we would be taken aback if we saw a friend openly displaying Mein Kampf on her bookshelf, we think that with enough critical distance people can learn a lot from books that uncover the wicked underbelly of society. So read on, dear readers, and tell us what “dangerous books” you’ve read and enjoyed. … Read More
1. Starting next Monday, Lady Gaga will be streaming her new album, Born This Way, in FarmVille; players will have to complete tasks for access to each of the tracks. Says Gaga: “I want to celebrate and share Born This Way with my little monsters in a special way that’s never been done before. Zynga… Read More
1. Despite some truly horrible reviews from critics (particularly Roger Ebert), the alien invasion thriller Battle: Los Angeles conquered the weekend box office, taking in $36 million for a first place finish. Rounding out the top three were Rango ($23 million) and Red Riding Hood ($14.1 million). [via AV Club]
It’s hard being a member of the creative class sometimes. Writers throughout history have been known to run afoul of the law, with charges ranging from disorderly conduct to murder. With the advent of the mug shot in the late 1800s, a latent image emerged of these various offenses, realized through this new, curious medium. In On Photography, Susan Sontag wrote, “The camera has the power to catch so-called normal people in such a way as to make them look abnormal.” But what if you’re unusual to begin with — what does the camera capture then? The following is a list of the top 10 authors to have walked the line. … Read More
Oprah’s name signifies much more than the famous talk show host herself — it stands for character: lifting oneself up, striving for human decency, searching for philanthropy and constantly improving one’s self-awareness. Oprah often guides us “to live our best life” by showing us… what to purchase. In fact, the New York Times has called her “the most powerful endorsement in pop culture.” And, the pressure for Oprah’s “picks” to perform is most apparent when she reaches out to the literary world. According to Business Week, “Publishers estimate that her power to sell a book is anywhere from 20 to 100 times that of any other media personality.” With those odds and that much personal pull, something is bound to go awry. Here are a few titles she touched that turned to gold, but not without a dash of drama and controversy along the way. … Read More
Salon asked 18 authors — including Dave Eggers, James Frey, Tao Lin, and Laura Hillenbrand — to name the book they enjoyed most this year and used the results to create a fantastic slideshow. But don’t read it yet! We’ve got a little quiz for you first. See if you can match each author on the list with his or her favorite read of 2010. Highlight the blacked-out boxes under the book titles to check your answers. … Read More