Aspiring writers will never tire of reading lists of writing advice from famous authors, whether legendary or living. And why should they? These lists, the most recent of which to bubble up in our collective consciousness being advice from W.G. Sebald, contain countless encouragements, tips, and (in almost every case) directives to get to it and stop fooling about. But even famous authors can lead young writers astray — after all, not every suggestion works for everyone, or every rule for every type of writing, and we find ourselves deeply skeptical any time anyone tell us we must do something (or not do it). As Sebald himself advised, “Don’t listen to anyone. Not us, either. It’s fatal.” After the jump, a few pieces of bad — at least in our minds — writing advice from famous authors, and if you feel so moved, add to our list in the comments. … Read More
Though we’ve been having an astoundingly mild winter here in our native New York City, we managed to eke out a white Christmas, and the snowy season seems to have begun in earnest. Possibly. We hope. But there’s no reason to stay indoors — when the seasonal flurries appear, even that most indoor-cattish breed, the author, sometimes comes out to play. In celebration of the long months of winter ahead, we’ve put together a little collection of famous authors out in the snow — skiing, playing with their dogs, or just wandering about. So yes, we’re taking a rather wide interpretation of “playing,” but bear with us. Check out some chilly writers after the jump, and if we missed a favorite photo, add it to our collection in the comments. … Read More
Recently, The Rumpus dug up a great article from a 1998 edition of the LA Times, wherein Saul Bellow describes living with Ralph Ellison in a grand old house in upstate New York. Inspired by this pairing, we decided to poke around to try and find out which other famous writers have lived together, whether before they became famous, while scribbling away, or as established authors living the high life. Just to be clear — we’re not counting famous literary couples (or at least not constant ones, anyway). That’d just be too easy. Click through to read about a few literary greats who split the rent, and you might start looking at that aspiring novelist roommate of yours in a whole new light. … Read More
We contacted Jesse Browner, the author of Everything Happens Today and The Uncertain Hour, about curating a list of his favorite books where the action transpires in less than 24 hours. Both of his previous novels take place in less than twelve hours, so he definitely knows the challenges of using a limited time frame to bracket a story. “The writer must pay meticulous attention to structure and to the way time appears to flow through an active consciousness, which must be carefully controlled if it is not to become obsessive,” Browner explains. “In researching Ulysses, for instance, Joyce went back to the weather reports for Bloomsday so that a cloud that floats over several scenes behaves in strict obedience to the real-time wind conditions prevailing over Dublin on that date.”
“While few who write or read one-day novels will require such verisimilitude, they all understand the preciousness of every passing minute,” he continues. “More importantly, though, they all recognize that it is very easy, and very common, for each and every one of us to live out an entire lifetime of emotion, reflection and experience in a single day – or less.” Click through to check out Browner’s picks, and feel free to add to his list in the comments. … 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
Big Al’s Books and Pals is a website dedicated to Kindle book reviews that has gained a fair amount of attention in the past few days for a review of Jacqueline Howett’s summer 2010 debut, The Greek Seaman. On March 16th of this year, Big Al posted a negative review of the book — two days later, he received the first comment from its author. … Read More
Ever notice that celebrities and your favorite literary characters often have similar names? Ever wonder who it would be better to date, the real life celebrity or his/her similarly named fictional counterpart? If your answer is yes to both, then look no further. Flavorwire presents our first ever Real vs. Fictional Celebrities dating guide — complete with charts and a handy numeric rating system! Feel free to add to what we’ve come up with in the comments. … Read More
“Today I’ve made a major decision: I am never going to die. Others will die around me. They will be nullified. Nothing of their personality will remain. The light switch will be turned off.”
It got us thinking about our own favorite beginnings, both recent and classic. Below are some favorites from our bookshelf. Feel free to add your own picks in the comments section.
1. Slumberland by Paul Beatty
Best commentary on “post-blackness” considering Obama wasn’t even president when the book was written:
“You would think they’d be used to me by now. I mean don’t they know that after fourteen hundred years the charade of blackness is over? That we blacks, the once eternally hip, the people who were as right now as Greenwich Mean Time, are, as of today, as yesterday as stone tools, the velocipede, and the paper straw all rolled into one? The Negro is now officially human. Everyone, even the British, says so.” … Read More