Everyone knows that all authors are totally crazy, right? After all, that’s what makes so many of them so brilliant. But today, on the anniversary of Ezra Pound’s federally mandated release from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for the criminally insane, where he had been held for 13 years following his arrest on charges of treason, we celebrate those authors who have actually been institutionalized for their mental illnesses (or, in some cases, for what others thought was mental illness). … 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 fans of Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho likely know, the best-selling author has been a longtime supporter of the illegal downloading of his work. Now, he’s joining forces with The Pirate Bay, calling himself “The Pirate Coelho,” and asking readers to download everything that he has ever written from the file-sharing site. But don’t assume… Read More
In response to Russ Marshalek’s excellent post on devastatingly sad books last week, we’ve decided to try and lift your spirits a little during this rainy week by suggesting books that are great escapes from the incessant grind of daily existence.
Last year, Wayne Gooderham wrote a thoughtful piece in the Guardian about emerging from the fog of depression by reading Saul Bellow’s 1964 epistolary tale of Moses E. Herzog — a brilliant but broken intellectual who is constantly writing letters, many which are never sent. Gooderham writes that Bellow renders “a potentially bleak topic in such a poignant and gently humorous way” in Herzog, which is the mark of a very good book. Since we’ve always been suckers for a love story, many of the selections on our list involve affairs of the heart, although we are also inspired by political nonfiction and comedy when they are done well. As always, we realize that any list made will be contentious, so please feel free to suggest alternatives in the comments section below. … Read More
We all have a few: the books we read when we were young that altered everything. These were the world-changers, the reality-definers, the stories you died over, gushed to your friends about, pushed into the hands of boyfriends and girlfriends, urgently, sincerely. They were pivotal, inspirational, important.
And then: you grow up a bit and return to the books that started a revolution in the way you existed in the world, the ones you thought would change you ever-after, and you think, oh, goddammit, that’s what had me so hot-and-bothered? And this is fine, this is natural. You were changed for a time, and changed again. You get older, you learn some things. Which is not to say the books below ought be avoided altogether. No, these are a few of the books that knocked you off the roof when you were a kid, that fall flat to re-read right now (plus a few suggestions on grown-up alternatives). … Read More
Amnesty International is celebrating its 50th anniversary with Freedom, an anthology of short stories that are each cleverly paired with one of the 30 rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Featuring contributions by prominent authors like Paulo Coelho, Joyce Carol Oates, Yann Martel, and Nadine Gordimer, the collection presents mixed interpretations of contemporary issues in global justice while drawing attention to Amnesty’s hard-fought work. Freedom offers an enticing and eminently readable primer on a range of contemporary human rights issues that many people might otherwise ignore or overlook, but we also recommend the following ten non-fiction titles to complement their fictional counterparts with a deeper look at specific UDHR issues. … Read More
Let it be known that if you live in New York, then we’re spying on what you read during your commute — and no, that free issue of AM NEW YORK doesn’t count. This morning quick reads, mysteries, and best sellers conspicuously dominated the picks of those on the 1 train that shuttles us down the west side to Flavorpill each day.
JOHN GRISHAM’s THE FIRM and ELIZABETH GILBERT’s EAT, PRAY, LOVE weren’t too much of a surprise. And, of course, STEPHANIE MEYER’s TWILIGHT — if you watch for it you’ll see one of Meyer’s novels around every corner.
Apparently, everyone is waiting with bated breath to find out if the mortal and the vampire will ever get it on. We got off the train, walked a block to work, walked toward the elevator, pressed the button and looked up only to see the same Twilight fan standing ahead of us, with thick paperback still in hand. … Read More
“Around age 10 or 11. I began by writing poems. When I showed them to a teacher, my mother was called to the school for a chat. The poems were thought to be too graphic and mature.”
- ALICE SEBOLD on when she first started writing [FT]
“I don’t know if I necessarily believe in fate or destiny, though I’m a big believer in the fact that people have the ability to influence the future in a way that seems coincidental and when that happens, the feeling of fate or destiny is amplified. A basketball player, for instance, could practice a certain shot over and over until perfected and later, when the game is on the line, he might have the chance to make that exact same shot. To him, it might feel like destiny, to others, it might seem like fate, but in reality, it was simply a coincidence that seemed powerful because of how often it had been practiced.” – NICHOLAS SPARKS on the role of destiny in his books [Taiwan News] … Read More