Posts by: Dinah Fay

Mystery Maven Memoirs

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In the wake of the destruction of precious cultural artifacts during the unrest in Iran and Syria, a quiet memoir from the queen of mystery, Agatha Christie, remembers the landscape and archeological legacy. The autobiographical Come, Tell Me How You Live never technically went out of print, but HarperCollins will re-release the book in time […]

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Big Data is the Key

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Over at The Nation, Moira Weigel gives a thought-provoking perspective on digital humanities, and identifies some of the field’s intellectual precursors. The idea that big data holds the key to unlocking mysteries of literature and history is the logical extension of a larger cultural obsession with computer analysis; it’s also a little absurd to any […]

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The Feminine Mystique of Miss Marple

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Miss Marple’s strength as a mystery novel heroin was inseparable from her character: that of a nosy, small town spinster. Far from taking those identity markers as pejorative, Alice Bolin has written a stirring defense of Miss Marple (and her creator, Agatha Christie) as a champion of a particularly feminine brand of sleuthing: one that […]

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The Ways of Hemingway’s Heart

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A new account of Hemingway’s love life—which famously spanned four marriages and could be said to include complex relationships with a number of male confidants—is forthcoming from A.E. Hochner, one of Hemingway’s dear friends in the last years of his life. The book is based in part on recorded conversations with the author, and serves […]

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Early Autobiography Gets a Boost

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Margery Kempe, a 15th century mother-of-14 visited by religious visions whose autobiography is considered among the first in the English language, has just gained significant cred. For the first time, historians have been able to verify significant parts of her account, by way of a newly discovered letter apparently written by her son. It has […]

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Revising ‘A Wrinkle in Time’

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Irony abounds in a story from The Chronicle of Higher Education about Jonathan Gottschall, the pioneering figure of Literary Darwinism, who has taken to MMA fighting since his career as an academic foundered. Gottschall made a splash in literary circles with a dogmatic assertion that the lens of evolutionary biology can and should supercede all other […]

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Amazon: The Root of Book Littering?

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The strange case of the “Literature Litterbug”—a mystery perp who’s been dumping used books along a Colorado highway for a year or more—has come to a close, bringing with it a pun-filled police report and plenty of finger-pointing. Glenn Plasden admits that the littering citation was “by the book,” and explains that he simply couldn’t […]

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Noodling about with Narratives

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The introduction to Martin Solares’s How to Draw a Novel, currently in the process of English translation, takes on a cheerfully animated life of its own at LitHub. Solares discusses ways to visualize various novels, charting plots and digressions to understand essential structures. The web version, interspersed with simple GIFs, gives a satisfying motion to […]

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Impending Death of a Dictionary

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Much like the parochial vocabulary it strives to catalogue, the Dictionary of American Regional English is in danger of extinction. A stopgap crowdfunding campaign is currently open to support the project in the short term, but the long-term forecast for the entity protecting such gems as “flumadiddle” (nonsense), “slippery jims” (pickles), and “rantum scooting” (going […]

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Buddies, Bishop and Gunn

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Colm Toíbín, author of On Elizabeth Bishop, has a lovely long reflection at the Guardian about Bishop’s friendship with Thom Gunn, and the parallels in the artists’ life and work. Bishop and Gunn both shied away from writing about mentally ill mothers and queer relationships for most of their lives, although Gunn addressed both in the 1990s. […]

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Nightwalking with Dickens

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Long walks are among the most common creative practices, we’re told, for writers from a certain era: Wordsworth, Thoreau, and Blake come quickly to mind. Matthew Beaumont’s new Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London from Verso is a treasure trove of stories about these ambulating authors, and Flavorwire has a piece about how walking after […]

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Hip Hip for Howl

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To celebrate the 60th anniversary of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, a veritable smorgasbord of celebrities came together at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles to put on a variety show for the ages. Hal Willner, a longtime musical producer for SNL, brought together performers from Lucinda Williams to Courtney Love and Amy Poehler to Tim Robbins, […]

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Shelters for Families, and Books

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Twenty homeless shelters serving NYC families will be getting their own libraries as part of a new initiative from the Departments of Education and Homeless Services. The project, supported by Scholastic and a number of literacy organizations, aims to address the needs of the city’s growing population of homeless children; last year there were over […]

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In the Batcave with Robert Moses

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If you’ve been curious about Robert Moses but put off by the sheer heft of volumes like The Power Broker, a forthcoming comic book rendering of the master builder’s reign is a fun new option. The book, titled Robert Moses, comes from a long French tradition of giving traditionally serious subjects the comic treatment. Author […]

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Taylor Swift: Grammar Crusader?

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Proving that the quest for high scores on the SAT is as tragically unhip as ever, The Princeton Review is making headlines for setting off a grammar grudge match with pop sensation Taylor Swift. Swift’s lyrics are not only included in a section on pronoun agreement errors, they’re misquoted (although as Eugene Volokh points out […]

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How to Harlequin

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Over at Jezebel, Kelly Faircloth shares a fantastic long form piece on the rise of the Harlequin romance novel, and how the brand became synonymous with a wildly lucrative if critically dismissed genre. From the original formula for woman-centered, alpha-male page turners to Harlequin’s relentless advertising tactics to the question of exactly how much sex […]

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Finally, a Seuss Museum

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The world’s first museum dedicated to the life and work of Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, is set to open in his hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts as soon as 2016. The venture will be a welcome addition to the museum circuit of western Mass, already home to the Art Picture Book Museum, the Norman Rockwell […]

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Toni Morrison, Resplendent Orchid

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Toni Morrison was honored at this year’s National Book Critics Circle award ceremony, and Rita Dove’s remarks capture Morrison’s ongoing legacy beautifully. Dove describes her own joy in discovering The Bluest Eye, the first book in the University of Iowa’s library that spoke to a black American experience outside of the deep south or inner […]

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