The Rumpus Book Club is proudly presenting Zipper Mouth, Laurie Weeks’s debut novel as our October pick. Published by the Feminist Press, it tells the story of a New York junkie, along with the “exalted night-club epiphanies” and “devastating morning-after hangovers.” And the book comes with a ringing endorsement from Michelle Tea....more
Posts by: Sam Riley
Should book reviews be reserved for the literary elite? Isn’t it important for a book to win the respect of the general public?
These are the questions that distinguish book reviews from blog reviews, which is essential in our forging a new literary culture....more
The Atlantic recently ran an article entitled “Why Americans Love Chain Stores: A Psychological Perspective,” and not only does it break down our metropolitan American tendencies, but it explains them in terms of our psychological issues.
Our ideals about American independence give way to our obsession with chain stores....more
Roxane Gay’s on HTML Giant talking about the covers of chick-lit novels and the stigma attached to their formulaic visual coding, though the feminization of book covers is taking over more than just the chick-lit genre. It’s unfortunate that women writers have to consciously avoid being pigeonholed into chick-lit genre or are marketed via book cover designs as such....more
“Poetry occupies a cultural space in Contemporary American Society somewhere between Tap Dancing and Ventriloquism.”
How do you claim some of this space as your very own? The Awl has a handy guide on how to construct a love poem, even instructing on the timing of its presentation, the step before the actual writing (staring at the blank paper), using the acrostic method as a prompt, and more!...more
In 1958 Ian Fleming and Raymond Chandler discussed each other’s writing in this BBC interview. Being seasoned wordsmiths on the subject, they discuss what makes a British thriller versus an American thriller (apparently “thriller” is an elusive term), heroes and villains and frustrations with bestseller lists....more
Max Eastman was elected to be the editor of the Masses, the magazine that birthed the modern gag cartoon, fittingly described as such: “…the magazine leaned away from the conventions of the establishment and toward the eccentricities of bohemians everywhere....more
Vladimir Nabokov and Edmund Wilson academically quarrel in a series of letters, written to assuage the pain of illness that was afflicting them both.
They’ve got a shared “literary curiosity,” but the specifics of their understanding of Western literature reveal that they mostly just disagreed....more
The Millions has an essay on sexual violence and its literary and cinematic representations. Is it better to represent sexual violence through a code of silence, through allusions and subtlety or explicitly? Books and films that portray sexual violence diverge in these ways....more
Broke-Ass Stuart’s on an East Coast book tour, proselytizing the spendthrift lifestyle in select cities. He will be speaking and providing signatures for his book Young, Broke, and Beautiful: Broke-Ass Stuart’s Guide to Living Cheaply. And there will be DJs and dancing....more
Michael Kenneth Williams, the actor who played Omar on the highly-praised HBO series The Wire, is interviewed on Mother Jones. The show is often described as “the greatest television show ever made,” and Williams offers his perspective on why the show has been so successful....more
Eve’s Diary, Mark Twain’s retelling of Adam and Eve, is back on Charlton, MA library shelves after a 105-year absence. The book was banned due to seemingly explicit illustrations (though they “now seem quite chaste”). Its return is timely—this Saturday marks the beginning of Banned Books Week, celebrating literary freedom....more
If you’re publicly expressing resentment towards America’s most beloved (animated) family, you should expect a response. Letters of Note published Marge Simpson’s response to Barbara Bush’s declaration that the Simpson’s was “the dumbest thing” she’d ever seen. The subject of what makes the ideal American family is a contentious one, but alas, there is always room for acceptance....more
Wes Wilson was the rock-poster guru of the 60’s. His designs were used by the Beatles, the Doors and are so site-specifically San Francisco, from those art-filled days where you could rent a room for 30 bucks a month.
He talks about the age of pre-computer designing, 60’s San Francisco and the evolution of his psychedelic aesthetic in this interview with Collector’s Weekly....more
Here’s more fuel for the dialogue on brick and mortar bookstores and their integral role in creating and supporting the literary community. HTML Giant’s got a double dose of input on the subject—a video of Matthew Stadler delineating the difference between readers and shoppers, and an essay in The Stranger by Paul Constant, encouraging us to take action....more
Will Shortz, the puzzle mastermind behind the NY Times Crossword Puzzle, is revealing his strategies to the Atlantic. He goes through the whole process—fishing the right crossword from the submission slush pile, and then the major clue editing and revising that happens before the final puzzle in produced....more
The tapes of Jackie O’s interview with Arthur Schlesinger, four months after her husband’s assassination were not supposed to be released until fifty years after her death. Her daughter Caroline Kennedy ended up releasing them early (the result of an ABC deal) and released them in a book, co-authored with the historian Michael Beschloss....more
Diane Ravitch walks us through the history of school issues and the failed reform policies in the American educational system. The black-white achievement gap, test scores that diverge along socioeconomic lines and the failures of the No Child Left Behind legislation—Ravitch goes through it all....more
One would hope that there has been steady progress in terms of the presence of women writers in television, but a recent San Diego State study suggests quite the opposite.
Their Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film quantifies the gender breakdown annually....more
A little bit of James Dean has been preserved in the recently-uncovered love letters he wrote to his girlfriend Barbara Glenn. They’re dated from 1954, the year before he was killed in an auto accident and also during the period of his rising stardom....more
There are those companies that don’t pay their writers to produce content in order to save money, and then there is this. Narrative Science software produces content. It’s being used by twenty companies in order to avoid taking on more writers (and thereby paying more writers) to turn data into a news piece....more
Carolyn Kellogg of the LA Times reviews Chris Colin’s Blindsight which tells the story of film producer Simon Lewis, and his journey to recovery following a major car crash. Kellogg has great things to say (“Lewis’ story is sprawling and fascinating and is told with sensitivity and intelligence by Colin”)....more
Amazon is introducing a new service that presents a noncommittal book-buying option for customers. The company is considering a Netflix-like rental service for ebooks, which unfortunately, only provides more opportunity to devalue books. And this devaluing has only caused publishers to be skeptical of this rental-based selling point for ebooks....more