Today marks the release of George Orwell’s Diaries, the influential writer’s personal writings from the years 1931 to 1949, published for the first time in the United States. Orwell is one of those writers who is so infused in our collective imagination and culture that his name has become its own adjective: “Orwellian” is used to describe a totalitarian government or situation similar to the one in 1984. Like Kafka, whose “Kafkaesque,” has come to mean not only “like Kafka’s writing” but also the more disconnected “marked by a senseless, disorienting, often menacing complexity,” Orwell’s namesake will probably continue to evolve, becoming a term one understands even without reading a word of his writing. But what about more modern writers? After the jump, we’ve speculated on a few (tongue-in-cheek, mind you) definitions for the adjective-ized versions of contemporary authors — sure, some of their names don’t exactly lend themselves to common adjectival endings, but that’s okay. The English language is ever evolving. And in that spirit, we challenge you to play our game and make up your own in the comments! … Read More
Earlier this week, we read a fascinating article over at The New Yorker that asked the question, “why is literary fame so unpredictable?” Apparently, in 1929, the readers of The Manchester Guardian were asked to vote on the authors they thought would still be read widely in 2029, and their top choice was John Galsworthy, who — though he won the Nobel Prize for The Forsyte Saga in 1932 — is now relatively unknown, or at least not very popular. The article goes on to discuss the difficulty in making predictions of literary prestige over long periods of time, noting a couple things that might give clues (a staunch but small readership of fellow authors, for one). While we concur that this kind of thing often rests on chance, fashion and unforeseeable future circumstance, we thought we’d take a stab at rounding up a few of the contemporary (read: living) authors we think we might still be reading in 100 years. Click through to see our predictions, and let us know your own in the comments. … Read More
We’ve been noticing a growing trend in micro-fiction in recent years, and particularly in recent months: in fact, two of the books on our list of new must-reads for December fall into this category, so we thought we’d better take a look at it.
Flash fiction or micro fiction is usually described as fiction under a thousand words, though much of it is much shorter — in fact, many traditions of flash fiction have self imposed word limits, like the popular 55 Fiction form. There are reigning masters of the field, like Julio Cortázar and Fredric Brown — and of course, everyone knows the most famous piece of micro fiction, supposedly penned by Hemingway: ”For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Though the form has been around for a long time, it seems to be having a moment. This past year, we became obsessed with a literary journal devoted to the form, Esquire held a flash fiction contest judged by Colum McCann, and several books of tiny fiction have caught our eye. Click through to check out some of our favorite examples of micro fiction from the recent past, and let us know what you think in the comments. … Read More
Newcomer lit mag Electric Literature wowed us with its first issue last summer; the periodical has since released a second issue featuring writers-we-love Lydia Davis and Pasha Malla, plus an animated video series to boot. Expanding on its ethos of _bringing literary geekdom back to pop culture, Electric Literature engages readers old and new with outreach into other art forms and across multiple platforms. Peep artist Jonathan Ashley’s animation, taken from a single sentence out of Stephen O’Connor’s epic story in the current issue (also excerpted after the… Read More