Recently at the Flavorwire office we’ve become obsessed (in a skeptical and dubious way, of course) with the Myers-Briggs personality test, a pop-psych phenomenon which sorts us all into one of 16 categories, each with a unique combination of four letters. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Intuitive or sensing? Thinking or feeling? Perceiving or judging? Now take all your results and combine them, and you have your MBTI personality type! While we don’t advocate your running out and switching jobs based on this result, a personalized reading guide can’t hurt. So in the spirit of summer reading — and summer self-inquiry — we offer a novel that we think would suit each MBTI… Read More
British novelist Fay Weldon may have come up with a solution to the ever-simmering genre wars. Writers, she said, should simply write two versions of their books, one meaty and contemplative for print, and one racier for Kindle.
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The British novelist Tom McCarthy — the author of C, Men in Space, and the increasingly revered Remainder — is known primarily in the United States for Zadie Smith’s essay “Two Paths for the Novel,” wherein she cites McCarthy’s work as a future for literary fiction. In this mode, many critics now single out McCarthy as the torchbearer for avant-gardism, or at least they point to him as our most serious-minded critic of literary realism. This position was hardened, too, after McCarthy wrote a brilliant takedown of realism (as an obvious contrivance) for London Review of Books last year.
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Literary biography is a hugely significant, if often overlooked, enterprise. Today, much of what we know about the authors we admire is filtered through an ocean of online mini-biographies, nearly all of which are copies of copies. The original source of an enormous amount of this information is the literary biography, and in the case of most authors, there are precious few examples of such books. Even exceedingly famous authors are gifted only a handful of quality biographies. With this in mind, I’ve come up with a list of 50 essential literary… Read More
Twelve years ago, I inadvertently began a literary ritual that I’ve kept alive to this day. It was late in the first term of my freshman year of college, and I’d been assigned to lead a discussion on James Joyce’s “The Dead,” the devastating final story in his collection Dubliners. Never having read it, I was unaware of the symbolic importance of snow in the story. It happened to be the first snowfall of the year, and by the time I reached the book’s end, my romantic, teenaged soul swooned along with Gabriel’s, as he heard “the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.” So, as embarrassing as it is to admit, I now re-read “The Dead” on the first snowfall of every year.
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One of the things literature does better than almost any other medium is allow us to experience another person’s quality of mind, and sometimes even inhabit it. It follows, then, that every avid reader has a favorite literary character — whether they’re beloved for dastardly deeds, tough-girl antics, sex appeal, or a high snark quotient — and that there are many impossibly good ones out there. Click through to find 50 of the… Read More
Literature is a never-ending, overlapping, sometimes circular conversation — between writers, between readers, between books themselves. This fact can make for some fascinating and rewarding reading. After all, what’s more interesting than listening in on one genius talking to another? There are some novels that are better if you have a little bit of background going in — and sometimes that background is nothing more or less than another great novel. Here are a few books you should pair the way you would a fine wine with an excellent cheese — each enhancing the other and making for a very satisfying… Read More
This week saw the release of Ben Lerner’s 10:04, which, beside being a truly remarkable book, happens to feature a hilarious scene of masturbation. Despite the fact that it has been dubbed by some “literature’s last taboo,” the onanist impulse crops up more than you’d think in novels, and often makes for some great — or at least greatly amusing — writing. After the jump, a few favorites from literature both classic and contemporary for you to giggle over.
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We read biographies in order to find out about extraordinary lives in extraordinary times, and they all follow the same formula at their heart: birth, life, and then death. What is smart about Kevin Birmingham’s marvelous new work The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses is that it is not a straightforward biography of a person. Rather, it tells the tale of one landmark book — Ulysses — its birth and still-vital life and what it meant for modernism, publishing, copyright law, and obscenity trials.
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