Not to get too philosophical, but it’s hard to define what is truly funny. Is it something that has you falling on the floor laughing or something that has you chuckling inside while also pondering the absurdity of the human condition? What’s important is that humor works as a device that can make you laugh with reckless abandon, but also ponder this strange situation we call life. Not everything that’s funny has to start off with “Knock knock,” and these 25 books offer an opportunity to see how writers have used humor in different ways, to often-brilliant… Read More
We love moms. We love our moms, and we love your mom. But fictional moms that we’re supposed to hate? We love them, too, in a strange and special way. And with Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, we got to thinking about the absolute worst literary moms that we can think of. They’re too cruel, don’t pay attention, pay too much attention, or, in some cases, harbor murderous intentions.
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A while ago I made an educated guess that this season of Mad Men would feature one or two books that came out in 1969. The Godfather, Kurt Vonnegut, and Margaret Atwood could all still show up in this two-part final season of our favorite show about horrible men in nice suits. Yet those other titles would just be an extra-nice surprise, as last night’s episode featured Don on his couch, reading the book I most expected to see: Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth.
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Springtime can make even the most devoted of readers a little bit antsy. After all, there are flowers to smell, puddles to jump in, fresh love to kindle. You still want to have a novel in your pocket — just maybe one that doesn’t require quite so epic an attention span. Never fear: after the jump, you will find 50 incredible novels under 200 pages (editions vary, of course, so there’s a little leeway) that are suitable for this or any… Read More
Amid all the cheers that have greeted her win, there are those who think Donna Tartt didn’t deserve the Pulitzer Prize for The Goldfinch. Some took to Twitter immediately after the award was announced to either talk about all the other books they thought were more deserving or hypothesize that the prize was an apology for past awards she should have won. Although naysayers aren’t anything new when it comes to major awards, there have been a few other writers whose awards (or lack thereof) rattled cages way more than this year’s winner, and probably for way better reasons.
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Few shows in television history have given their writers half as much fun as Matthew Weiner and his crew have with Mad Men. It’s why you always see so many reading lists for the show’s characters and compilations of all the books that have actually been featured on it: Mad Men is, at its heart, a very literary show, one whose influences are clear because its writers get to embed their favorite books into the story. Taking place in 1969, Season 7 is likely to cover world-changing events like the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, Woodstock, and the Manson Family murders (please hold your Megan death conspiracy theories), but the year was also filled with books that played a huge role in the cultural conversation of the time, and in some cases, had a lasting impact that can still be felt to this day. That’s why it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of these book covers on the final season of Mad Men.
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Happy birthday, Ralph Ellison. The late author is perhaps most famous for his 1952 existentialist novel, Invisible Man, which touched upon issues facing African-Americans, as told through one man’s search for his identity in New York City during the 1930s. The title spent 16 weeks on the best-seller list and won the prestigious National Book Award for Fiction in 1953. Ellison’s use of the nameless protagonist echoes themes of social blindness throughout the novel. The narrator describes himself as “invisible” in the prologue:
I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids — and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.
Sometimes misunderstood, other times preferring the cloak of anonymity, the unnamed protagonist has acted as the voice of many throughout literature. Here are ten compelling uses of the literary device.
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Love pops its head into fiction in funny, unexpected ways. Sure, you’ve got your classic literary power couples, but it can also appear in less conventional, less obvious places. With February 14 right around the corner, we got to thinking about some of the best and most unusual examples of two becoming one in literature, and came up with these great bookish… Read More
People can argue all day about the greatest novels, but there is never enough discussion about short story collections. In honor of the first exceptional example of 2014 — Leaving the Sea by Ben Marcus) and the fact that The New Republic is publishing short fiction again, we were inspired to come up with this list of essential collections by masters of the form and up-and-comers alike. Some entries in this canon are anthologies of an author’s complete works, while others are individual books that are perfect on their own; either way, these 35 volumes are required… Read More
‘Tis the season, as they say, to stuff your face. Thanksgiving, that hallowed day of highly caloric foods and oft-tempestuous family relations, is upon us. To celebrate — or just to escape the festivities for a while — why not nourish the foodie in you with some gourmand-friendly literature? Behold, a spread worthy of kings: 50 essential works of fiction to whet your appetite, and then satisfy it, and then satisfy it some… Read More