“Poets don’t draw. They unravel their handwriting and then tie it up again, but differently,” Jean Cocteau once said. When examining the handwritten poems of famous authors — those made popular by their texts and several famous for other art forms — there is an unparalleled intimacy that typed words cannot convey. Many of these poems were born from spontaneous bursts of creativity or late-night meditations, unsparing and instinctive in thought. Words are ostensibly silent, but these handwritten poems speak volumes about their creators. See what poets put pen to paper and revealed their inner worlds. … Read More
Mary Shelley was only 21 years old when she published her first (and greatest) novel, Frankenstein. A small London publishing house quietly issued 500 copies in 1818 of the gothic novel about a scientist who invents a monster that vows revenge on his creator after being rejected by society. On March 11th, the book was finally publicized — to the shock and horror of many. Images of the lumbering creature have evolved and endured through cinema and literature in the 195 years since Frankenstein was born. We’re celebrating this anniversary by looking back at several vintage book covers that reveal a fascinating history of bringing Shelley’s “modern Prometheus” to life. … Read More
In case you haven’t heard, a massive storm is slated to sock the Northeast over the next two days as Hurricane Sandy, combined with a wintery cold weather system (that’s why it’s earned the seasonally-appropriate nickname “Frankenstorm”) threatens to slam into us. If you live anywhere on the East Coast or thereabouts, we imagine you’ll be wanting to stay inside for the foreseeable future, so we’ve put together an essential stormy weather reading list to get you in the hurricane mood and keep you busy while the weather rages. The lights might go out, but books don’t run out of batteries. Just don’t forget the… Read More
Today marks the release of Jami Attenberg’s The Middlesteins, a portrait of a woman obsessed with food and the efforts (or non-efforts) of her family to get her eating under control. We can say pretty confidently that the book made us never want to overeat again, and we got to thinking about the other books that make us want to give up our vices. After all, any sin you can dream up has probably been written about, usually by someone French. After the jump, find examples of the seven deadly sins in literature (whether actually deadly or just unfortunate). Indulge in a little naughtiness-by-proxy, and then let us know which sinful characters we missed in the comments. … Read More
Well, we can never get enough of poking fun at the unduly critical, can we? Last week, we shared fifteen scathing early reviews of classic novels, and some of you pitched in with some of your own favorites. We took a few of your suggestions, both here and at Metafilter, added a few more of our own, and put together a second list of a few more critics who got it wrong, this time hating on Hemingway, Tolkien, Steinbeck and more. Now don’t get us wrong — everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to judge the past from the future. Click through to read ten more scathing early reviews of books we now consider to be classics, and chuckle over how you know better (or admit that you secretly agree) in the comments. … Read More
Halloween is a time for spooky reads, and it’s also one of those days when we feel fine with letting our standards go out the window and reading some terrible-but-amazing fright tales. But what if you want to smarten up your Halloween reading list? Can zombies, werewolves and monsters go highbrow? Why yes they can, and for those of you who prefer your chills to come in a loftier package, we’ve got you covered. After the jump, find ten highbrow Halloween reads, from everyone’s favorite Shakespearean ghost story to poetry about zombies — and since we’re already mourning the ghosts of the books we had to cut from this list, resurrect any of your favorites we missed in the comments. … Read More
Mary Shelley has some serious staying power. The author was born a whopping 215 years ago today, and her work is more relevant now than ever. Not only is Frankenstein, which Shelley began writing when she was eighteen years old, still ubiquitous in classrooms, but the cultural phenomenon of the cobbled-together monster has and continues to inspire and inform artists of every stripe (Tim Burton’s rebooted Frankenweenie is only the most recent example, we think you’ve probably heard of a few more). To celebrate the life and legacy of this fantastic author, we’ve but together a list of a few 19th century writers who are continually — and sometimes exponentially — culturally relevant in our time. Though some of these authors did garner some amount of acclaim during their own lifetimes, we’d venture that they’re all much more famous and more important to the culture at large today. Click through to check out our list, and as always, add any writers you think we’ve missed in the comments. … Read More
This week marks the release of The Dog Stars, the debut novel by adventure writer Peter Heller, a stunning, hope-riddled end-of-the-world story about a man and his dog nine years after almost everyone else on earth has been eradicated. We think this novel is bound to become a classic, and it got us thinking about a few of the greatest apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic novels of all time. Click through to check out the books that — to our minds — make up the best of the best in end of the world lit. And as ever, if we’ve left off your own personal favorite, add to our list in the comments! … Read More
As you might have noticed, we love us some meta literature here at Flavorwire. So when we heard about Ariel S. Winter’s The Twenty-Year Death, a novel in three novels, each in the style of a different mystery writer, which hits bookstores next week, we asked the author to give us a rundown on some of his favorite works of meta-fiction.
“When it comes to novels,” he writes, “I’ve always been as excited by form as by story. Narrators within narrators, footnotes, colored ink, unique page layout, frame narratives, genre-bending, blank pages, photographs; these all pique my interest. However, I’ve had to learn that when I discuss my own novel The Twenty-Year Death, I need to lead with story rather than form or my interlocutor loses interest. Perhaps that’s because playing with form can be so hard to do right. If story is sacrificed for form, a novel’s no fun to read. If unique form seems unnecessary for the telling of the story, then these tricks feel only like tricks, unearned. It is only when a novel can be told in no other way, and remains entertaining and enlightening, that a book with unusual form works.”
“This list includes books that use all of the above techniques, and challenge the reader by telling stories in new ways,” Winter continues. “I limited myself to novels written in English (with one exception) and arranged the list chronologically. So if you want to read something a little different, these books are a good place to start.” Click through to read Winter’s picks, and then if you feel so moved, feel free to add to his list in the comments! … Read More
The idea for Mary Shelley’s most famous novel, Frankenstein, came to her in a dream while summering in Switzerland with the notoriously melancholy poet, Lord Byron, and the manic creator of the vampire genre of fantasy fiction, John Polidori. As you do when you’re bored, conflicted writers obsessed with the occult on holiday, you hold a competition to see who can come up with the best horror story. Mary’s tall tale about a hideous creature created by a science experiment gone awry clearly won.
We’re all for trial and error, and as our favorite visionary architect and staunch advocate of pushing the limits, Bucky Fuller, said “there is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments with unexpected outcomes.” A boundary pushing bout of genius is the hope when you’re a castle-builder looking to change the world, but there’s a fine line between botched and brilliant (ahem, Lady Gaga). Click through to check out twelve extreme experimental designs that we think are too brave for their own good. Let us know in the comments if you agree, then tell us what modern buildings you think should have been left on the design world’s equivalent of the cutting room floor. … Read More