J.D. Salinger

‘The Catcher in My Thighs’ and Other Witty Book Cover Remixes by Na Kim

Prolific Brooklyn-based illustrator Na Kim is an artist after our own heart: witty — even a bit risqué — and literary in equal measure. While all her work is worth a peek, we’re especially smitten with her imaginary book covers (spotted via Booooooom!), renderings of well-worn classics like The Catcher in the Rye and Madame Bovary, with titles altered just enough to make us giggle. Click through for some highlights, and follow Kim on Tumblr to keep up with her work. … Read More

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A Collection of Wonderful Books by Morally Questionable People

We like to think of our favorite writers as people we would get along with. So much of what attracts us to literature and philosophy is its author’s stated or implied worldview that it’s disturbing to find out that the writers we love have lived morally questionable — or even reprehensible — lives. Laura Miller examined this disappointment in a piece for Salon earlier this week, ultimately concluding that, “needing to believe that your favorite author lived in an exemplary way, embodying all the virtues of his best work, is an adolescent desire, passionate but ultimately unfair. Learning the truth is disillusioning at first, but enlightening in the end.”

In the spirit of hating the author but loving the work, we’ve rounded up a collection of great books by poets, novelist, and philosophers with unsettling biographies, featuring both writers Miller mentions and some of our own favorite scoundrels. Spoiler alert: the modernists were a pretty colorful bunch. … Read More

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Plausible-Seeming But Tonally Inappropriate Book Covers

Everyone knows that you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but um, we kind of do it all the time. In fact, half the fun of that anachronistic pleasure known as bookstore browsing is to indulge in that very vice — allowing certain covers or color schemes to catch your eye and draw you over to a tome you might never have picked up otherwise. That’s not to say that the covers, or even the descriptions on the back or inside flaps are necessarily good indicators of the book itself. Some cover designs achieve a perfect pairing of style and substance, some are to the point, and some are wildly off-base, inducing disgust and/or laughter when you actually read the book in question. Enter our new favorite tumblr: the delightfully witty Plausible-Seeming but Tonally Inappropriate Book Covers, in which a mystery artist (artists?) imagines possible bad book covers for some of our modern classics, complete with brilliant (and consistent, and upsetting) accolades from modern American hero Jonathan Franzen. Click through to see some of our favorites and let us know what you think in the comments. … Read More

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‘One Story’ Names the Top 10 Short Stories of All Time

As a fitting finale to National Short Story Month, we asked the talented crew over at One Story to name their ten favorite epigrammatic tales. Tanya Rey, the managing editor, explained via e-mail that their choices are in no particular order, so anti-Salingerists are advised to not get all huffy just because JD leads the list. Tanya writes, “Certain authors (e.g., Cheever, Moore, Johnson, Barthleme) were nominated more than once, for different stories, so we tried to choose the most ‘classic’ of those stories. This was not exactly a scientific or objective process.” However, we stand behind the choices because they’re some of our favorites as well. What do you think, dear readers? … Read More

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Rewriting Books Through Redacted Text

Earlier this week, Animal NY showed some images from someguy, a San Francisco-based artist and aesthetic troublemaker who has taken on the task of redacting the text of seminal books, be it pages from the Bible or Catcher in the Rye. In his arguably most controversial piece, 212 Slaves, he blacked-out all the text in Huckleberry Finn save for the n-word (which occurs 212 times in the novel) as a response to the recent move to replace the offending word with “slave” in contemporary editions. In another piece, he redacts everything on the page except for the word “unicorn,” which for whatever reason is mentioned in the Good Book multiple times. Despite his assertion that his work “provides no answers, leaving people to determine the meaning of the message,” we think someguy’s delivery makes it pretty clear that he is interested in making plain the inflammatory and absurd messages we receive while reading noteworthy texts. … Read More

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Famous Last Words: Our 20 Favorite Final Lines in Literature

Endings, as we all know, are important. An entire novel can be ruined by a disappointing ending, but by the same token, an entire novel can be made by a wonderful one. We’ve already given you a rundown of our favorite opening lines in literature, but since every beginning needs an ending (and you’d be surprised at how many works with awesome first lines also have awesome last lines – or perhaps you wouldn’t be surprised), we feel compelled to treat you to a list of our favorite last lines as well. Click through for 20 of our favorite endings from our bookshelf of classic and contemporary greats, and let us know your own picks for best last lines in the comments. … Read More

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Books That Rocked Your World at 16 But Fall Flat Now

We all have a few: the books we read when we were young that altered everything. These were the world-changers, the reality-definers, the stories you died over, gushed to your friends about, pushed into the hands of boyfriends and girlfriends, urgently, sincerely. They were pivotal, inspirational, important.

And then: you grow up a bit and return to the books that started a revolution in the way you existed in the world, the ones you thought would change you ever-after, and you think, oh, goddammit, that’s what had me so hot-and-bothered? And this is fine, this is natural. You were changed for a time, and changed again. You get older, you learn some things. Which is not to say the books below ought be avoided altogether. No, these are a few of the books that knocked you off the roof when you were a kid, that fall flat to re-read right now (plus a few suggestions on grown-up alternatives). … Read More

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Cult Books That Need to Be Adapted for the Big Screen

It’s been a big few weeks for cult novels getting their own film adaptations. A New Yorker profile of Guillermo del Toro earlier this month provided a window into the preparations for the director’s version of the H.P. Lovecraft novella At the Mountains of Madness. Over the weekend, we got out first glimpse at the unintentionally hilarious-looking, Tea Party-approved Atlas Shrugged movie. And yesterday, the news broke that Michel Gondry is taking on Ubik, one of Philip K. Dick’s weirdest books. All of that got us thinking about some of our favorite cult novels that are dying for big-screen adaptations. Check them out, and add your own, after the jump. … Read More

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What’s On at Flavorpill: The Links That Made the Rounds in Our Office

Today at Flavorpill, we wanted to win our own Parked Domain Girl oil painting. We enjoyed a few highlights from The Nancy Drew Cookbook, including but not limited to “Tolling Bell Tuna Rolls” and “Bungalow Mystery Salad.” We wished that we’d been at Madison Square Garden last night to catch … Read More

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The 10 Greatest Child Geniuses in Literature

What is the deal with our culture’s preoccupation – literary and otherwise – with kid geniuses? Is it that we all secretly wish we were still children – but with our adult intellect intact? Is it that we think a child with remarkable abilities but with age-appropriate innocence is our last best hope? Will the strange pleasure we get from the wise child (Kids Say the Darndest Things, anyone?) trope never run dry? Garth Risk Hallberg’s lovely piece over at the Millions, Adam Levin’s The Instructions and the Cult of the Child, has gotten us thinking a little more about precocious children, specifically in that mirror of society, English Literature. Click through for our thoughts and our list of some of our favorite literary child geniuses. … Read More

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