For a reader, there’s something magical about picking up a first novel — that promise of discovery, the possibility of finding a new writer whose work you can love for years to come, the likelihood of semi-autobiography for you to mull over. The debut is even more important for the writer — after all, you only get one first impression. Luckily, there are a lot of fantastic first impressions to be had. Click through for some of the greatest first novels written since 1950 — some that sparked great careers, some that are still the writers’ best work, and some that remain free-standing.… Read More
This week, we read a great article by Meg Wolitzer in The New York Times about the ways in which novels written by men and women are perceived differently — both by readers and by publishers. She has many great points, and the article is definitely worth reading as a whole if you’re interested in the state of gender and book publishing, but one of the ideas that stuck out to us was Wolitzer’s discussion about the primary way in which books are marketed — their covers. She writes,
“Look at some of the jackets of novels by women. Laundry hanging on a line. A little girl in a field of wildflowers. A pair of shoes on a beach. An empty swing on the porch of an old yellow house. Compare these with the typeface-only jacket of Chad Harbach’s novel, “The Art of Fielding,” or the jumbo lettering on “The Corrections.” Such covers, according to a book publicist I spoke to, tell the readers, “This book is an event.” Eugenides’s gold ring may appear to be an exception, though it has a geometric abstraction about it: the Möbius strip ring suggesting that an Escher-like, unsolvable puzzle lies within. The illustration might have been more conventional and included the slender fingers and wrist of a woman, had it not been designated a major literary undertaking.”
Wolitzer posits that this is part of the reason that books by women sometimes get ignored by male readers: their feminine covers “might as well have a hex sign slapped on them, along with the words: “Stay away, men! Go read Cormac McCarthy instead!”” We have to agree. To try to get a visual handle on her point, we’ve pulled just a few covers of recent, critically acclaimed books by men and by women — several of which Wolitzer mentions in her article — though of course any grouping is likely to yield slightly different results. Click through to see our conclusions, and be sure to weigh in yourself in the comments.
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It’s a really exciting day for book worms: The eight annual TMN 2012 Tournament of Books has officially gone live! Click through to see which 16 “of the most cherished, hyped, ignored, and/or enthusiastically praised books of the year” will be battling it out in a NCAA-style bracket beginning March 7th, and let us know in the comments if you agree with the their picks. But be kind. TMN realizes that not everyone will be happy with their list. “Some books were dismissed for petty reasons,” they explain. “Some books were no doubt included for arbitrarily aesthetic ones. And there’s no getting around any of that, as far as we can tell.” Amen. We’re also curious: Are there any voracious Flavorwire readers out there who have already tackled all 16 books?
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Another year, another uninspired list of “fascinating people,” courtesy of Barbara Walters. Babs’ 2011 list seems frightfully behind the times: Aren’t Simon Cowell, Katy Perry, Derek Jeter, and the Kardashians kind of old news? Why interview Donald Trump when you could have picked a real politician who actually plans to run for president in 2012, instead of just teasing about it to hype his past-its-prime reality show? Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet from Modern Family aren’t a bad pick, but do we really need to hear more from tabloid favorites Amanda Knox and Pippa Middleton? Here’s hoping the one name ABC is withholding until Walters’ special airs tomorrow night is more inspiring. Meanwhile, your friends at Flavorpill have our entire list of 2011’s most fascinating people ready right now. Our top 10, and the questions we’d ask them, are after the jump.
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We don’t know about you, but there’s something about winter, and particularly the holidays, that makes us crave fables and fairy tales — though whether it has to do with wanting to recapture the feeling of stories we heard in snug beds as children or whether it’s related to the communal family table, we’re not sure. Though it’s by no means a new trend, we feel that we’ve been seeing the advent of more and more fabulists following in the tradition of Aesop and La Fontaine — or maybe just writers who incorporate fables into their oeuvre. Indeed, today marks the release of the first English translation of Gianni Rodari’s wonderful Lamberto, Lamberto, Lamberto from Melville House, which will satisfy our cravings — at least for tonight. For tomorrow and the next day, click through to read our list of ten modern fabulists guaranteed to whisk you — and the whole family — away.
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Exciting book world news: It was announced this afternoon that Téa Obreht has won the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction with her debut novel The Tiger’s Wife (which we reviewed here). At just 25 years old, she is the youngest writer ever to receive the prize, which is awarded… Read More
In “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” Geoffrey Chaucer writes about a queen who offers a lascivious knight the following option in court: if he can discover what women most desire within a year, his life will be spared. If he cannot, he will die. As he roams from placed to place and as different women offer contradictory answers, he realizes he may never find the correct response, until he finds an old woman who whispers the truth in his ear — women want sovereignty over men. In Chaucer’s mind, it’s that simple. However, the books we’ve rounded up deal with the complex topic of spousal authority and interrupted lives through a different lens, be it via the experience of a young doctor dealing with an abrupt death in the family, a bride living in the shadow of a brash writer in Jazz Age Paris, or a woman desperately searching for a man to take care of her. These are the wives of history, and we are finally able to see their side of the story.
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2011 may be the year of the rabbit, but it seems like every book we read about nowadays has the word ‘tiger’ in the title. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But only mildly. We already know these things are cyclical, but we thought this phenomenon was only in the music world — remember the whole Crystal Antlers/Crystal Stilts/Crystal Castles thing? What about Wolf Eyes/Wolfmother/Wolf Parade/AIDS Wolf and Grizzly Bear/Bear Hands/Bear in Heaven? Speaking of those, what is it with people who name things and ferocious animals? Someone must be putting something in their food. Just saying. Not that these books don’t look great! Because they (mostly) do. Click through for the list of tiger-titled books that will be/have been released in the first three months of 2011, and let us know if you’ve noticed any similar phenomena.
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