Toni Morrison

Joyce Carol Oates’ Joyless Critique of Literary Critics’ Joylessness

Yesterday, Joyce Carol Oates took to Twitter to admonish, in a familiar way, the supposedly gloom-stricken, anhedonic minds of literary critics. The idea, as usual, is that critics are parsimonious, even vindictive melancholics who are constitutionally incapable of setting aside Occam’s Razor in order to enjoy the pleasures of reading. Here is a sample: … Read More

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10 Withering and Wise Toni Morrison Quotes for Her Birthday

Toni Morrison is both a gorgeous writer and an extremely gifted thinker. On her birthday, February 18th, we celebrate her words on race, gender, the world’s troubles, and the duty and process of those who write their way out of the mess. These quotes will have to suffice until we can read her new novel, God Help the Child, later this year. … Read More

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Girl Canon: 50 Essential Books About the Female Experience

Everyone knows that, statistically at least, girls read more than boys. But the classic, canonical growing-up books, at least in American culture, tend to represent the male experience — I’m thinking On the Road, The Catcher in the Rye, everything ever written by Bret Easton Ellis or Michael Chabon — and while these are great books, suitable for boys or girls, the question remains: where are the books for girls to grow up on? Well, they’re definitely out there, if perhaps assigned less often in schools to readers of both genders. And so I propose a Girl Canon, populated by books not necessarily for girls but which investigate, address, or represent the female experience in some essential… Read More

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The 10 Most Anticipated Novels of 2015

If 2014 was a year of solid works by major writers, like Marilynn Robinson’s Lila, and groundbreaking debuts, like Nell Zink’s The Wallcreeper, 2015 looks to be, well, the same. Although it’s difficult to know what great novels may come out of independent presses, we already have a strong slate of promising works by relative unknowns, like Mary Costello, and relative well-knowns, like Toni Morrison and Jonathan Franzen, from the bigger houses. There are so many potentially noteworthy books that I was forced to excise Nobel winner Patrick Modiano’s collection of novellas and Milan Kundera’s new short novel, The Festival of Insignificance, due in June. In any case, here are the novels sure to drive the literary conversation in… Read More

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Book Publishing Predictions for 2015

What will book publishing bring in 2015? Shrouded as the industry is behind a veil woven of billions and billions of dollars, it’s difficult to say. But if you look hard enough — at the bestseller lists, the court cases, the controversies — you can glimpse through the metaphorical keyhole and into the back rooms where the deals are made. With this in mind, here is a somewhat reliable predictor for the publishing industry in 2015. … Read More

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50 Books to Cure Heartbreak

Heartbroken? Left alone? Depressed? And right before the holidays? Never fear, because this is no end-of-year list — it’s a list to cure that broken heart of yours. Now, there are as many ways to mend a broken heart as there are to break one, but hopefully this list will contain something for everyone, whether you prefer to muffle pain with laughter, or might take some hope in a happy ending, or just need to wallow. After all, as James Baldwin said, “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” So here you go, gang: 50 cures for love, all $25 or less. … Read More

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50 Great Dark Books for the Dark Days of Winter

We’ve reached the time of year when the days seem impossibly short and the nights never ending. Good if you’re a vampire or like to go to sleep early, less exciting for the rest of us. So what is one to do with all this extra darkness? Well, read some dark books, of course. Because there’s nothing better to cut through the literal gloom than to curl up with some intellectual doom. All you need is a tiny light to see your book by. Read on for 50 gloriously dark novels to read during these dark days. After a while, you may even stop wishing for the light to… Read More

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