If you’re a frequent visitor to this space, you know that we rather enjoy lists here at Flavorpill. Recently, we found our habit (compulsion?) affirmed by Katie Kitamura’s excellent article on listmaking, “Literary Lists: Proof of Our Existence,” over at The Guardian. In it, Kitamura discussed the appeal of the list, particularly in literature, quoting Umberto Eco, who said, “We have a limit, a very discouraging, humiliating limit: death. That’s why we like all the things that we assume have no limits and, therefore, no end. It’s a way of escaping thoughts about death. We like lists because we don’t want to die.” She goes on to write that “it requires real faith in the powers of fiction beyond style, in the formal aspect of language and its ability to approximate infinity.” Indeed. Inspired by Kitamura’s description of the form, we’ve hunted around for ten great lists, from literary sources and otherwise, that seem like they could be poems in and of themselves. Read through for some list-y inspiration after the jump, and add your own favorites to our infinite list of lists in the comments. … Read More
Many famous writers have kept journals or diaries — for many, it is a creative necessity, for others, a place for exploration, and for some an art form in and of itself. This week, Brain Pickings treated us to a few passages on the art of keeping a diary from Virginia Woolf’s A Writer’s Diary, and we were inspired to see what other authors had to say on the topic (we were also inspired to resume our old diaries, but never mind). After the jump, read ten famous writers on the importance of keeping a journal (or, in some cases, the lack thereof), and let us know whether you keep your own notebook, journal or diary in the comments. … Read More
There’s nothing we love more than virtual voyeuristic visits with fellow fabulous New Yorkers. The original real-life interiors photographer Dominique Nabokov (long before The Selby and Backyard Bill started snapping pics of stylish spaces) started documenting the inside lives of others as understood by their living rooms some 20 years ago. Her visits with celebrated artists, writers, designers, intellectuals, and the occasional celebrity was compiled into a humble, but fascinating, survey titled New York Living Rooms. … Read More
It’s a new year, and hopeful souls around the world are working diligently on their plans to revise — their health, their attitudes, their lives. But who knows more about the art of revision than great writers? Prepare to be… Read More
Recently, we stumbled upon this list of “fun” books that every woman should read in her 20s — needless to say, if you’re even a casual visitor to this space, the books (Confessions of a Shopaholic, Bitches on a Budget) aren’t exactly the ones we’d choose. So, perhaps rather predictably, we decided to put together our own list instead. Now, don’t forget, these are books for women in their 20s — we assume you’ve already read as much Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott as you care to, we expect that you’ve already tackled To Kill a Mockingbird and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Jane Eyre. And though women should read all books about all kinds of things and by all kinds of authors, this list sort of necessarily skews towards both female writers and characters, given the topic of the day. Click through to check out our reading list — and since every woman should read more than 20 books in her 20s (hundreds, ladies!), add your own favorites in the comments. … Read More
[Editor's note: In celebration of the holidays, we're spending the next two Tuesdays by counting down the top 12 Flavorwire features of 2012. This post, at #8, was originally published May 11th.] Every writer, no matter how serious, needs to let off a little steam now and then. Those oh-so-important mental health days might be filled with hobbies (from baking to beekeeping) or drinking (every writer’s default hobby), or just plain goofing around with friends. Luckily for us, some of these author’s kookiest, most candid moments have been captured on film, so we can all feel a little closer to our favorite literary heroes. Click through to check out our gallery of refreshingly silly photos of famous writers, and if you’ve seen a photo we haven’t, share the wealth and link to it in the comments! … Read More
We all know authors can insult one another with aplomb, but do those bitter wordsmiths ever have anything nice to say? Well, yes, of course. If we had to guess, we’d say that most authors’ biggest fans are other authors, who might understand a given piece of literature better than any mere mortal — or they might just be more likely to write about it. In the excellent collection Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story, which hit shelves last week, 20 famous writers choose and introduce the short stories from the periodical that moved and thrilled them. In honor of the book’s publication, we’ve put together a few of our favorite author-on-author compliments. Click through to spread the love, and if we’ve missed your favorite compliment, add to our list in the comments. … Read More
Today marks the publication of Mortality, confrontational journalist Christopher Hitchens’ posthumous work about his experiences with the cancer that killed him. We’ve lost a lot of great minds recently — Nora Ephron, Maurice Sendak, David Rakoff, and Hitch himself — and we think this end-of-life memoir in essays, full of Hitchens’ trademark wit and his clear-eyed dissection of life as he sees it, may just heal us a little bit, as books tend to do. To celebrate the book’s publication, and to help recalibrate our own perspectives on the loss of so many of our intellectual heroes, we’ve put together this selection of passages on death and mortality from a few of our favorite authors. Read through after the jump, and since there are an infinite number of these, add your own favorite to our collection in the comments. … Read More
This week, Threaded reminded us of one of our favorite moments in Joan Didion’s The White Album — when she lists her packing list, incredibly simple and yet so revealing. Lists, of course, are no rare thing in literature, and have many uses, from adding quirk to showing off knowledge, and have storied positions in classic texts like The Faerie Queene (so many different kinds of trees) and The Illiad (200+ lines of Greek chieftains). Inspired by Didion, we spent some time thinking about our favorite lists in literature, from short to impossibly long, from lists that catalogue items to those that follow the train of imagination. Click through to check out the literary lists we think are the funniest, most revealing, most interesting or flat out strangest, and if we’ve missed your own favorite, tell us about it in the comments. And yes, it does not escape us that this is a list of lists. Meta is the way we like it.
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“Many things in the world have not been named; and many things, even if they have been named, have never been described. One of these is the sensibility — unmistakably modern, a variant of sophistication but hardly identical with it — that goes by the cult name of ‘Camp.’”
- Susan Sontag, Notes on Camp
The 57th annual Eurovision Song Contest kicks off later this month, and it’s no a secret that a lot of participating nations aspire toward a little American coverage of their perennially campy offerings. But America’s always had a contentious relationship with camp. It’s unfortunate, really, that despite living in a nation where the president now openly endorses gay marriage — albeit with a few caveats — our cultural consciousness remains so camp-ophobic. We are, after all, the people who failed to give Mean Girls an Oscar, John Waters the big budgets of Jerry Bruckheimer, and B*witched a chance at a career here that spanned more than one single.
Perhaps that’s where Eurovision steps in as our forbidden fruit. It’s distant enough that American audiences needn’t feel debased by (or risk identifying with) the camp, but simultaneously, it satisfies our curiosity. It’s not that we have no appetite for camp — it’s that our pop consciousness needs to be tricked into appreciating it. (Hello there, Lady Gaga.) Eurovision, then, is a delightful, drawn-out yet comfortingly foreign opportunity to revel in camp. … Read More