Mary McCarthy

10 Great Books by Women That James Franco Desperately Needs to Read

When you write about culture on a pretty constant basis, James Franco is sometimes like a good old friend who shows up exactly when you need him, always there to say or do something that you can write about. In terms of books, which I believe is Franco’s preferred side gig to his acting, Franco should be commended because there are few celebrities aside from maybe Oprah or now Stephen Colbert who do as much to help more casual readers discover new writers, and that’s a good thing. But… … Read More

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5 of the Best Literary Frenemy Pairings

Writers can be fickle and strange. One day they’re blurbing a book, the next night they’re off at some party talking trash about the author they endorsed. Some will spend their days teaching new writers, then turn around and talk about how literature is dying. Some publicly denounce writers they consider good friends, then have dinner with them the next night. The literary frenemy is a very real thing, and it’s existed for as long as what we call the “literary world.” … Read More

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Toni Morrison, Wallace Stegner, and 10 Other Fiction Writing Teachers

The discussion on whether or not it’s any help to give a university your money, or funds you don’t have that you end up borrowing, so you can sharpen your skills as a writer will no doubt be reignited in the coming days and weeks with the release of the book MFA vs NYC: The Two Cultures of American Fiction. In truth, it’s a discussion that was going on long before the publication of the book, and one that will probably continue for years after the book comes out. Yet the one thing that is difficult to look past is how much studying with a teacher whose books or articles you respect can actually be a boost to your own work. … Read More

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The Horrifying Love Lives of Famous Authors

In the abstract, everyone would like to fall in love with a famous writer. It holds out the promise of fabulous love letters and, if one is very lucky, immortalization as the subject of a super-romantic poem. I mean, Keats’ beloved Fanny Brawne really lucked out, I think, with “Bright star, bright star / would I were as steadfast as thou art.” I would be thrilled if someone would write that about me. … Read More

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Mary McCarthy’s ‘The Group’ Is the Definitive Young Woman’s Sex Narrative

Fifty years ago this week, Mary McCarthy’s bestselling novel The Group was published. And 50 years later, people are still arguing vociferously about the legacy of the book. A couple of things are agreed upon. One is that The Group was a pioneer of the young-ladies-come-to-New-York-and-get-jobs-and-date genre that sustains women’s narratives from Sylvia Plath to Lena Dunham. It also blazed a trail for dismissive, angry, befuddled non-sequitur reviews from men who wanted to know what this girl stuff was all about, and why on earth anyone with a brain and some testicles might take it seriously. … Read More

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The 50 Greatest Campus Novels Ever Written

No matter how old you are, the back-to-school season holds a certain kind of allure – be it nostalgia for scholarly tradition, the crisping of the days, a Pavlovian need to buy books, or just the satisfaction that you don’t have to be in class ever again. If you’re looking to indulge yourself without the schoolwork, you may take pleasure in another hallowed tradition: the campus novel. That is, books concerning the lives of students, professors, and miscellaneous academics, generally in or around a college. Here are 50 of the… Read More

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Pre-Post-Fiction: Classic Novels That Blur the Line Between Real Life and Fiction

The New York Observer‘s review of Awl co-founder Choire Sicha’s new book is generating a bit of chatter in the corners of the Internet we frequent. The reviewer, Michael Miller, groups Sicha’s book with recent ones by Sheila Heti, Ben Lerner, and Tao Lin as what he terms a new wave of “post-fiction.” Post-fiction, he says, is characterized by a chiasmus between the real and the made-up, blurring the two into nonrecognition.” I would suggest that this genre is in fact far older than Miller suggests — it’s just that we used to call novels novels, back in the age when “Based on a True Story” was not worth its weight in marketing gold. … Read More

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The Wedding Photos of 16 Famous Authors in Love

If you’re a social person of a certain age, you’ve now embarked upon that most joyful and expensive of all times of year: wedding season. Last week, Flavorwire rounded up some charming wedding photos of famous musicians, but those interested in a little seasonal inspiration from the literary set should click through for shots from their white weddings (or tweed ones, as the case may… Read More

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Tournament of Books Organizers Pick the Winners of 12 Classic Literary Beefs

Today is the first day of The Morning News‘s epic annual Tournament of Books, an excellent and wordy alternative (or supplement) to March Madness for all us literary types. To celebrate, we asked the ToB’s organizers — the venerable Rosecrans Baldwin, Kevin Guilfoile, John Warner, and Andrew Womack — to act as judges for a few imaginary literary match-ups. Because who doesn’t want to imagine the results of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky throwing down? After the jump, find out who would win in a fight — Mailer or Vidal, Hemingway or Faulkner, Dorothy Parker or anybody, and more. Don’t agree? Argue your literary hearts out in the comments, and then be sure to get in on the real-life highbrow smackdown here. … Read More

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The Best Books Flavorpill Staffers Read in 2012

Year-end best-of book lists can be tough. After all, if you’re anything like us, you’re still catching up on the best books of 2010 — or 1910 — and only sneaking a few brand new hardcovers into the mix. So when sitting down to contemplate our collective year in reading, we decided to include everything, not just the new stuff. After the jump, your humble literary editor and a few other Flavorpill staffers expound on the best books we read this year — whether they be books that came out this year, or just the ones we finally (finally!) got around to reading. And inquiring minds want to know, dear readers, what was the best book you read this year? Let us know in the comments. … Read More

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