literature

What Do We Want from Writing? Money? A Career? Recognition?

It’s time to rethink everything. Everything. What it means to write and what it means to write for a public — and which public. What do I want from this writing? Money? A career? Recognition? A place in the community? A change in the government? World peace? Is it an artifice, is it therapy? Is it therapy because it is an artifice, or in spite of that? Does it have to do with constructing an identity, a position in society? Or simply with entertaining myself, with entertaining others? Will I still write if they don’t pay… Read More

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10 Must-Read Books for May

Often a given year’s publishing calendar is lopsided — the heavyweight books come out in September, after the literary mind has been thoroughly and evenly baked by the summer sun. But not this year! After a spirited April, we’re seeing a wise and hilarious May. One-of-a-kind acts of literary brilliance? Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts and Nell Zink’s Mislaid. Clear-eyed interventions in American life? Try Susan Neiman’s Why Grow Up? or n+1‘s City by City. There is even a potential science-fiction masterpiece in Neal Stephnenson’s Seveneves. If we project our minds to the end of 2015, my guess is that we’ll see many of these on those lists of “best” and “notable”… Read More

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Flavorwire Exclusive: Charles Dickens Nightwalks Through Paris and London

“In the dead of night, in spite of the electric lights and the remnants of nightlife, London is an alien city, especially if you are strolling through its lanes and thoroughfares alone,” writes Matthew Beaumont in the introduction to his Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London, out now from Verso Books. Well, do you know your city at night? And, if not: do you know it at all?

Chaucer and Shakespeare, Johnson and Blake, Wordsworth, De Quincey, and Dickens — all were nighttwalkers. And the joy of Beaumont’s book is the way it illuminates both literature and urban politics through the splendors and panics of their nighttime journeys. It’s a story that paradoxically meanders with a purpose, like a walk to nowhere in particular, from “the Middle Ages to the height of the gaslight era in the mid-nineteenth century.”

In the below excerpt, we learn about Charles Dickens’ maniacal nighttwalks through London and Paris, and the effect it likely had on his novels. … Read More

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What is the AWP Conference and Why Are All the Hip Writers Tweeting About It?

Tonight through Saturday, 15,000 people are descending on the Twin Cities to talk about writing. Maybe you’ve already seen glamorous or pedestrian writers Tweeting or otherwise sharing information about their delayed flights to Minneapolis, their panel preparation, or their forthcoming readings, hash-tagging it with #AWP15. … Read More

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How Hurricane Katrina Gave Rise to a Flood of Dystopian Fiction

The word dystopia came into being in the 19th century, through two modifications of existing words. First, the utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham, in his Plan of Parliamentary Reform, simply changed the prefix of Sir Thomas More’s Utopia (οὐ or “u” means “not” — so “no place”), which signified a fictional place, to κακό or “bad,” to create cacotopia: a bad place. Decades later, in 1868, Bentham’s disciple, John Stuart Mill, made a speech to parliament in which he reiterated “cacotopia” before upping the ante with his own neologism, “dystopia.” … Read More

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50 Fearless Female Firsts in the Arts

March is Women’s History Month — a time to pay “tribute to the generations of women whose commitment to nature and the planet have proved invaluable to society.” Since the national celebration’s beginnings in 1981, women have continued to break the gender barrier and contribute significantly to the historical evolution of various forms of art. Here’s a look at some of those women — the filmmakers, writers, singers, and other creative pioneers who paved the… Read More

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Zoella’s Clockwork Novels: Fanfiction, Ghostwriters, and the Bizarre, Automated Future of Publishing

Another year, another novel churned out by the YouTube Megastar-Publishing Complex. This week, the Guardian announced that Zoe “Zoella” Sugg, Internet superstar and “author” of Girl Online, last year’s runaway hit and the fastest-selling debut novel of all time, will publish a sequel, the appropriately titled Girl Online 2. Only, as is well documented, Sugg didn’t write the novel, even though she said she did. The book’s jacket copy finds Zoella confiding to her fans: “My dream has been to write a book, and I can’t believe it’s come true.” But, as it turns out, the book was ghostwritten, factory produced by an underlaborer named Siobhan Curham, who wrote the book for a measly £7,000 to £8,000. … Read More

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Here’s the Cover for Jonathan Franzen’s ‘Purity’, Due September 1st

Jonathan Franzen, according to the press copy (or maybe jacket copy) from his forthcoming novel Purity, is “a major author… Read More

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Reif Larsen’s ‘I Am Radar': Art and Race in 2015’s First Big, Messy Novel

Am Radar begins in darkness: the title character, Radar Radmanovic, is born to his mother Charlene during a hospital blackout. Charlene’s husband, Kermin Radmanovic, is tinkering with a transceiver radio in the delivery room, waiting to “announce his child’s arrival to the world.” But when the lights come on the doctor is holding on to her newborn child, a baby “so dark it shimmered purple in the beam of light, like an eggplant.” … Read More

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