John Banville

Great Literary Characters Inspired by Real Famous People

This week will see the release of a book we’re pretty excited about: Carlene Bauer’s Frances and Bernard, a novel inspired by the relationship between Flannery O’Connor and Robert Lowell. After the jump, we’ve put together a list of some other great novels with characters inspired by real life people that have caught the cultural consciousness — excepting works that are primarily autobiographical, and focusing on books that are not just historical fiction, but true adaptations (names are changed!) of people and events. Read through our list after the jump, and if we missed your favorite in this category, be sure to add it on in the comments. … Read More

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How to Rewrite a Story Without Ruining the Original

Although Hollywood has made a business out of converting classic stories into vacuous, high-def shells of their former incarnations, the literary world has been somewhat better about preserving and improving — even while in the act of pillaging. As we’ve seen in everything from Ulysses to Frankenstein to East of Eden, a well-imagined reworking can bring new meaning and relevance to an older, equally beloved story. Here’s a look at five recent literary makeovers that do justice to the original work. … Read More

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A Few Audio/Visual Treats for Literary Geeks

* Sam Lipsyte: Leg Warmer Guy

* Truman Capote reading from Breakfast at Tiffany’s at the 92nd Street Y Poetry Center in 1963

* Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes talk about how they met

* A clip from David Foster Wallace‘s Kenyon College Commencement Speech

* John Banville reads from… Read More

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Hard-Boiled Eggheads: High-Minded Novelists Turn to Pulp Fiction

Crime sure must have some allure. It’s driven untold numbers of men to mayhem, and a certain score of women to murder. And it’s caused some of our highest-minded literary scribes to take some very low roads. The latest egghead to get all hard-boiled is Robert Coover, who joins Thomas Pynchon, John Banville and Paul Auster in the back alleys of our mind. Okay, so Auster has basically been a hard-boiled egghead from the get; he just found a way to keep himself afloat above the low road. Pynchon and Banville (and now Coover) however all made a conscious decision to leave their airy heights and slum it. And the results are as beautiful and as memorable as a broken nose.

That’s good by the way. Damn good. Especially when you’re talking about pulp fiction. But surely these gentlemen haven’t gone surly simply because they feel like a dust-up. Or have they? … Read More

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Daily Dose: The Infinities

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

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