There’s always something exciting about reading a literary figure’s memoir, learning the details of their personal life (those they’re willing to share, anyway) and getting a glimpse into their creative process. But it’s perhaps more illuminating to read an outsider’s account of a literary great, assembled from years of reporting and sifting through private papers. A literary biography might not be as sensational as, say, the life story of a doomed Hollywood starlet (although certainly a fair number of novelists, playwrights, and poets have lived turbulent lives), but they do offer a complete picture that shatters the fourth walls of our favorite writers’ work. Here’s a collection of great bios that accomplish just… 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. … Read More
Listicles, tweets, your ex’s Facebook status, picture of dogs wearing costumes — the internet offers no shortage of entertaining stuff to look at. But there’s plenty of substantial writing out there, too, the pieces you spend a few minutes reading and a long time thinking about after you’ve closed the tab. In this weekly feature, Flavorwire shares the best of that category. This week: the lack of James Baldwin in high schools, the other side of Silicon Valley, an Occupy Wall Street protestor on trial, and more. … Read More
The American South has produced an incredible amount of great literature. Earlier this month, we published a hearty list of classic novels to come out of the region. But for those who don’t have the hours to devote to Southern culture’s long-form masterpieces, there’s plenty of great short fiction set south of the Mason-Dixon, too. Featuring some famous tales by literary greats like William Faulkner, Mark Twain, and Flannery O’Connor, this list is a great way to start exploring Southern short… 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. … Read More
The American South has long been seen as the focus of the country’s Civil Rights Movement, carrying with it the stigma of poverty, racism, and anti-intellectualism. Yet the region has also produced a disproportionate number of intellectuals, poets, and writers, possibly because of the complicated and layered identities each Southerner holds within him- or herself. The South has begotten some of our nation’s most important authors, including prize winners like William Styron, Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor, Ralph Ellison, Harper Lee, and that titan of American letters, William Faulkner. These 50 novels are a reminder that the South cannot be defined solely by its failings; it is also responsible for shaping the minds of countless thinkers who offered to American literature essential insights about not only their region but the world at… Read More
One of the most important experiences you can have with your favorite author is to hear them read aloud from their works. But many of us will never get the chance to see our most beloved writer in the flesh. So, after the jump is a collection of 15 writers — some alive, some long gone — reading their own words (all fiction, with the exception of William Faulkner, whose Nobel Prize speech is included because it’s now often taught alongside his novels and stories, and Joan Didion’s memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking). … Read More
‘Tis the season for eggnog, presents, ugly sweaters, relatives getting too drunk at family functions, and little kids hoping that old St. Nick will bring them gifts that they will probably tire of within days of ripping open the packaging come December 25th. It’s Christmastime, and just like you and everyone you know who is pasting a Santa hat on their Twitter avatar or Facebook profile pic, your favorite authors like to get into the spirit of things as well. So, with quite a bit of
Photoshopping research, we assembled this series of never-before-seen images of famous authors revealing a festive side that — in many cases — we never knew existed. Here they are, donning festive gear and telling us what they want for the holidays.
… Read More
As Alice Munro’s daughter is in Stockholm today collecting her mother’s Nobel Prize for Literature — there won’t be a speech; the frail Munro recorded a podcast instead — we thought we’d offer some of quotes from our favorite Laureates of years past. Here’s a thing I noticed in compiling this list, however: a lot of Nobel lectures are pompous bores! There’s a lot of theory in them sometimes! No good, old-fashioned storytelling about storytelling. Well, except for these people, who spoke with more eloquence and fewer references to French post-structuralists. … Read More
Letters of Note, the popular website that publishes exactly what its name implies, has finally put out a book filled with letters sent by everyone from Virginia Woolf to Nick Cave to Jack the Ripper. Not too surprisingly, that collection is also titled Letters of Note.
What might draw us to these letters is the fact that we just don’t send physical mail as much as we used to. Email correspondences are locked behind passwords, and no great thinkers have offered up the contents of their inbox to be published in a book (yet…). Letters of Note, both the site and this new collection, is a throwback of sorts, but the letters it publishes also help us understand famous people we are interested in, and give us a different way of looking into their thoughts. … Read More