Around this time last year, we gave you a list of a few of our all-time favorite short stories that were available to read online for free. By now, we expect that you’ve read them all, so we thought it was high time to collect a few more. After the jump, ten more short stories that you can read for free — on your phone on the train, while pretending to work, printed out with a cup of tea on the couch — all of them guaranteed to be great (and a few that were suggested by readers on our first go-around). But of course, the Internet abounds with these, so if you’ve a generous spirit, you could even add to our list in the comments. Happy reading. … Read More
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s getting cold out there. February is our traditional hibernation time, so as far as we’re concerned, for the next month we’ll be eschewing nightlife and staying inside with various hot beverages and various room-temperature books. This month, we’re looking forward to blistering essays, masterful short stories, incredible debut novels, and a posthumous book from Maurice Sendak. Sounds good right? But as we all know, February’s a short month, so you’d better get cracking. Let us know what you’re most excited to read over the next few weeks in the comments. … Read More
It’s almost Valentine’s Day, which has us thinking about affairs of the heart — but not in the Hallmark card way, of course. Yesterday saw the release of Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories (an even better title than her last translated collection, There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales), and needless to say, the book is full of off-kilter, lurid, even violent attempts at connection. To celebrate the book’s release (and stock you up on reading in advance of Valentine’s Day), we’ve put together a list of ten of our favorite thoroughly messed up short stories about love. But of course, the literary world abounds with these, so read through and add your own twisted favorites in the comments. … Read More
If killer short story collections, triumphant returns, and more delicious-sounding novels than you can shake a stick at sounds like a good thing to you, then 2013 is shaping up to be a banner year for new… Read More
You know the quote: ”Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Whether you believe Tolstoy or not, there’s something alluring about dysfunctional families, especially when they’re strictly literary. This week saw the release of Mark Haddon’s newest novel The Red House, the story of a family cooped up in a country house together for a week of what should be vacation, but ends up being full of family secrets, personal revelations, and complex dynamics. All that aside, we realized that we wouldn’t mind being part of their tragicomedy, and we got to thinking about some of our other favorite literary families that we sort of wish would adopt us. Click through to see which fictional families we picked, and let us know which ones you’d choose in the comments. … Read More
This week, we read an article over at The Guardian which suggested that the “anxiety of influence” is waning — that is, that writers publishing today are no longer as closely influenced by the literary canon as they once were, and instead look to their contemporaries. Well, considering that this conclusion was the result of a mathematical study based on the number of “content-free” words like ‘of’, ‘at’ and ‘by,’ we’re not sure how much water it holds, but it inspired us to think about some modern writers who do seem to be carrying the torch for their old school counterparts, whether in topic, thematic style, or character. After all, the past never really goes away — especially in… Read More
This week, Nell Freudenberger’s second novel, The Newlyweds hit shelves, and we’d say we’re pretty excited. The book itself is great, but the reappearance of the author reminded us of her past as a new kid on the block, part of that cyclical surge of young, attractive authors that always seem to take a lot of heat, especially from critics and other writers. After all, it’s not every author who is judged in the headlines to be “too young, too pretty, too successful,” but we like to think that with her newest novel, Freudenberger has pushed past that stigma to be taken a bit more seriously, and perhaps enjoyed with a little less jealousy. Others of her good looking brethren have done the same — or have fallen off the face of the planet. Click through to see our round up of a few authors that have been criticized, ridiculed, or simply condescended to for their looks or age, and how they’ve fared since. And no, we’re not going to get into the whole Franzen/Wharton thing. … Read More
The 2012 Pulitzer Prize winners were just announced, and there were two major surprises in the bunch. First, David Wood of The Huffington Post took home the company’s first-ever award for national reporting for his “riveting exploration of the physical and emotional challenges facing American soldiers severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan during a decade of war,” in his Beyond the Battlefield series, beating out reporters from traditional media outlets like the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal. Kind of surprising, right?
But it gets more shocking. You’re never going to believe who nabbed the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. No one. As Sarah Weinmann points out, the last time the Pulitzers failed to award a prize in fiction was back in 1977, when the board vetoed the jury’s selection: A River Runs Through It. And it’s not as if there was a shortage of excellent options among this year’s finalists — while we would have been thrilled to see Karen Russell’s debut novel Swamplandia! score such a big honor, Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams and David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King, are certainly nothing to sneeze at. Click through to check out the full list of winners in the Journalism and Letters, Drama, and Music sections, and let us know in the comments if you think the fiction jurors — Susan Larson, Maureen Corrigan, and Michael Cunningham — have some serious explaining to do. … Read More
Yesterday, the American Society of Magazine Editors announced the finalists for the 2012 National Magazine Awards, which judge American publications as a whole as well as specific articles within them. Bloomberg Businessweek, GQ, New York, The New Yorker and Vice are all nominated for overall excellence in the field of general interest magazines, Glamour, More, O, The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple and W are nominated for women’s interest, and The American Scholar, Aperture, IEEE Spectrum, The New Republic and Virginia Quarterly Review are nominated in the “Thought-Leader” category.
You should take a peek at those titles at your leisure, and check out the full list of finalists here, but we were more interested in the finalists in most of the major article categories. We’ve put together a handy list for you, with links to the nominated work. Yet again, we were flabbergasted and discouraged by the lack of female writers here — of the categories we looked at, they are only nominated in the Public Interest and Fiction sections. Regardless, there’s a lot of good writing here, so click through to get a handle on the ASME nominees, and let us know who you think should take home the prizes in the comments. … Read More
This week, we read a great article by Meg Wolitzer in The New York Times about the ways in which novels written by men and women are perceived differently — both by readers and by publishers. She has many great points, and the article is definitely worth reading as a whole if you’re interested in the state of gender and book publishing, but one of the ideas that stuck out to us was Wolitzer’s discussion about the primary way in which books are marketed — their covers. She writes,
“Look at some of the jackets of novels by women. Laundry hanging on a line. A little girl in a field of wildflowers. A pair of shoes on a beach. An empty swing on the porch of an old yellow house. Compare these with the typeface-only jacket of Chad Harbach’s novel, “The Art of Fielding,” or the jumbo lettering on “The Corrections.” Such covers, according to a book publicist I spoke to, tell the readers, “This book is an event.” Eugenides’s gold ring may appear to be an exception, though it has a geometric abstraction about it: the Möbius strip ring suggesting that an Escher-like, unsolvable puzzle lies within. The illustration might have been more conventional and included the slender fingers and wrist of a woman, had it not been designated a major literary undertaking.”
Wolitzer posits that this is part of the reason that books by women sometimes get ignored by male readers: their feminine covers ”might as well have a hex sign slapped on them, along with the words: “Stay away, men! Go read Cormac McCarthy instead!”" We have to agree. To try to get a visual handle on her point, we’ve pulled just a few covers of recent, critically acclaimed books by men and by women — several of which Wolitzer mentions in her article — though of course any grouping is likely to yield slightly different results. Click through to see our conclusions, and be sure to weigh in yourself in the comments. … Read More