Yesterday, we spotted the cover for Scribner’s upcoming republication of The Great Gatsby, in concert with the film adaptation’s May release. The Great Gatsby is one of those books with a cover so iconic that any change to it offends our delicate sensibilities, but even with that self-awareness, the image got us thinking about other movie (and TV) tie-in editions of books, and how truly awful — not to mention unfaithful to the original text — they can be. That said, there’s no denying that movie tie-in editions sell books, so we guess there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. We just wish there were another way. … Read More
This week saw the release of the brilliant Ariel Djanikian‘s debut novel, The Office of Mercy. Djanikian’s book drops you into a deliciously paranoid world that we’re confident will go down in history with the best of them, so we asked her to put together a list of her favorite dystopian love stories (just be sure to mentally add The Office of Mercy to her list). Here’s what she told us: “Dystopian tales seem to go hand-in-hand with scintillating, high-octane love stories: perhaps because dire circumstances have a knack of drawing people together, perhaps because claustrophobic repression makes the highs and lows of love affairs that much more potent. These ten books boast plenty of heart-stopping love triangles, as well as romantic pairings with some changes: robots, clones, and cyborgs get in on the action. They are love affairs that question how much feeling we have to offer, and how much trust we can risk in the face of political pressures. Love is never the cure-all for these characters, but it can be an intervention, as Jeanette Winterson says, against powers of destruction.” … Read More
As kids, we were always fascinated by the meaning of our names — what did they say about us? What ancient history were we somehow connected to? And while we’re not so interested for ourselves anymore (as you can see, this writer has a pretty boring last name), it’s still fun to find out what other people’s names mean. Especially if those other people are famous writers, some of whom are now known only by the words that surround and come from them. To this end, we did some snooping, and using a mixture of foreign language dictionaries and online genealogy databases, we came up with the list below. Some might surprise you — but some fit like a glove. After the jump, school yourself on the meaning of 20 famous authors’ last names, and if you know of any secrets we’ve missed, add to our list in the comments. … Read More
As Francis Bacon famously wrote, “Some books are meant to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; That is, some books are to be read only in parts; Others to be read, but not curiously; And some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.” As voracious readers, we like to think we give each book we read its due diligence, but you can’t deny that some are worth lingering over, worth turning over in your mind, worth cherishing, longer than others. Of course, such a thing is only objective to a certain extent — everyone has their own favorites, and everyone’s own favorites are, for them, just as important as anyone else’s. Here, we present a list of ten books we think are worth savoring, poring over, and thinking about for years — add to it with your own choices in the comments. … Read More
Last month, we ran a highly contentious list of disturbing novels and short stories, from Flannery O’Connor’s 1955 classic, “A Good Man is Hard To Find,” to Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho. This month, we’ve combed through the comments in order to find our favorite disturbing book suggestions from readers who had a bone to pick with our original choices. The following list contains an assortment of writers from our fair nation as well as a few key stories from abroad, and all of the stories included are guaranteed to disturb. An especially well-read commenter suggested the surreal poetic novel/poem Les Chants de Maldoror, which offers the following warning to readers: “The lethal fumes of this book shall dissolve his soul as water does sugar.” So get ready to toss and turn tonight, because these books are meant to unsettle. … Read More
We’re the first to admit that, sometimes, the best cure for a hard week, a long day or just a rainy weekend is a really sad book. One of the saddest, and most compelling, to come to our attention this week is Michael Kimball’s gutting new novel, Us, about the slow death of a spouse and its effect on her devoted husband, who can merely watch as the person he loves begins to fade away. We consumed the entire book in one subway ride, and got more than a few strange glances our way as Kimball’s novel caused us to convulse with sobs. It wasn’t until someone asked us if we actually enjoyed Us (we did) that we begin musing on the strange relationship between sad books and ourselves as readers, and we wondered: what other books are out there for those who, like us, enjoy the occasional full-body sob and feeling of abject desolation as we’re absorbed into our reading material?
Before we began casting our nets, we set a few parameters for ourselves. First, no young adult novels. If we’d gathered YA, it would dominate the list. Yes, we love Where The Red Fern Grows, but we had to draw the line somewhere. Second, no books where an animal’s death serves as the emotional linchpin (we’re looking at you, Marley & Me). What we ended up with were 10 of the most emotionally wrecking books that we absolutely love. Did we miss your favorite? Please tell us in the comments. … Read More
Last week, we published a list of 10 essential books of the past 25 years. It was one of our most popular posts of all time, as well as one of our most contentious, racking up over 100 comments. Much of the argument has focused on the list’s lack of diversity: of the 10 books, eight were written by white men.
Since best-of lists can’t help but be subjective and flawed, and because there have been so many game-changing books by women and people of color in the past 25 years, we’ve put together an alternate top 10 list. Don’t think of it as an affirmative action move or a consolation prize, but rather as proof that you could make an equally strong list of the past few decades’ greatest literary achievements without including a single American- or British-born white guy. The highbrow novels, page-turning bestsellers, and one particularly inspired graphic novel after the jump all challenged the received wisdom that literature is or should be dominated by white dudes. … Read More
Remember Mark Romanek? Let’s re-phrase that. Are you familiar with the music videos for Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer,” Michael Jackson’s “Scream” or Beck’s “Devil’s Haircut”? Well, that’s him. He was one of those sought-after music video directors that emerged during the ’90s. Back then his officemates were David Fincher and Spike Jonze. Today, Romanek is all about making features. In 2002, he showed Robin Williams serious side in One Hour Photo, and his sophomore project, Never Let Me Go, based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel of the same name, barreled into theaters earlier this week after successful screenings at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals. We sat down with Romanek just prior to the film’s opening and got his take on a few things. … Read More