Posts Tagged: Flavorwire

Where We’ve Been

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It’s hard to enjoy reading Pride and Prejudice for the umpteenth time when the stack of books on your bedside table keeps reminding you of all the cultural capital you have yet to consume. Flavorwire’s Sarah Seltzer wonders why we stop re-reading our favorite books as we get older:

I’ve come to understand that I’ll rarely experience that first rush of discovery again, and perhaps that’s the problem with re-reading.

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The Joy of Knausgaard

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For Flavorwire, Jonathon Sturgeon works to define “contemporary” literature and wonders where Karl Knausgaard’s My Struggle fits into the mix. What he ultimately argues is that contemporary literature is often “project based,” and that Knausgaard’s self-exploratory novel is the most definitive example of this kind of work in recent times:

Not only does the title My Struggle claim for Knausgaard the agency to define his own project, it also points to the audacity of its own belatedness.

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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 dark influenced the writing of Charles Dickens in particular.

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Check Your Magic

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Muggle-born students of Hogwarts are an underprivileged class, while magic-born students enjoy unquantified privilege, argues Sarah Seltzer over at Flavorwire. Rowling creates a world where privilege and power are coupled together, just as wealth and race have allowed certain classes greater access to power in the real world:

Rowling isn’t arguing that a wand is directly comparable to a tennis racket but instead making the point that magic (like certain kinds of privilege) is a form of power, one that can be used for both evil and good.

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Like Whatever

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Art is problematic. Humans are problematic. Roxane Gay is a bad feminist. We know this, yet still we attack each other for liking Lil Wayne or Fifty Shades of Grey. Flavorwire‘s Sarah Seltzer wants us to stop telling women what they can and can’t like:

I wouldn’t abandon the practice of critiquing art for its political stance…But what I won’t say is: you’re a bad feminist if you like [Philip] Roth.

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BFFs in Elena Ferrante Novels

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The literary idea that friends’ lives represent unmade choices, roads not taken, is applicable across gender and genre. Naturally, however, it has a particular resonance for women, because so many of life’s choices have particular resonance for women. Whether in 2015 United States or in postwar, pre-feminist Italy, women still feel like they have to lean in the direction of either family or career, creative fulfillment or economic necessity.

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The Other Brontë Girl

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She was the Khloé Kardashian of nineteenth century literature, the Michelle Williams of her girl group, her family’s invisible Zeppo Marx. Over at Flavorwire, Sarah Seltzer makes a case for the Brontë sisters’ own personal Ringo:

Nothing sums up her relationship to her sister’s work better than the Hark, a Vagrant comic called “Dude Watching with the Brontës,” which features Emily and Charlotte gazing adoringly at “Byronic heroes” as they walk by while Anne shakes her head like they’re crazy and calls the guys alcoholic dickbags and assholes.

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The Rise and Fall of Alt Lit

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The Alt Lit community brought together a disparate group of writers and poets from the sorts of backgrounds often ignored by mainstream literary fiction, leveraging the Internet and building a loyal and dedicated following. Then this fall, allegations of a history of rape, sexual abuse, and misogyny within the community exploded across the Internet.

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Healing Words

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This past week has seen an outpouring of poetry responding to the disappointment, violence, and trauma spurred by the Ferguson decision. Over at Flavorwire, Jonathon Sturgeon challenges the notion that poetry written in response to political events is somehow less legitimate than art of any other kind:

Over the years, I’ve heard countless complaints about “political poetry” written in the wake of announcements of war or plainly racist explosions of state violence, like what we’re witnessing in Ferguson and the greater US right now.

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Fail Worse

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If our current understanding of Beckett’s “fail better” command implies eventual success, what of failure whose endgame is really just failure? Over at Flavorwire, Jonathon Sturgeon makes a case for the value of failure itself (future success optional):

When a friend shows you her rejection letter, especially one that details precisely why her manuscript was denied, she seems to have uncovered a truth about herself, her society, her would-have-been publisher.

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Skewed Standards

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The YA battle rages on at Flavorwire, where Sarah Seltzer responds to Rebecca Mead’s New Yorker essay pondering the effects of supposedly lowbrow children’s lit:

We have to interrogate our basic assumption that writing skills possessed by educated white people are the best skills around…Humor, action, relatable language, and plotting are not lesser tools in a writer’s toolbox, but equally necessary ones.

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Pride, Prejudice, Repeat

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Jane Austen has been blowing up these days, with hundreds of fan-fictional responses to Pride and Prejudice gracing the dusty corners of bookstores and the Internet. Over at Flavorwire, Sarah Seltzer wonders why we’re still so eager to return to Pemberley:

Because Austen doesn’t overload us with sensory details about her characters, but merely depicts them walking around in the world, talking, judging, and making mistakes, we project a lot of our own experience and imagination into our reading, and this makes us feel personally acquainted with them.

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Can Poptimism Save Literary Culture?

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Literary criticism suffers from elitism, claims Elisabeth Donnelly over at Flavorwire, and the solution is introducing a poptimism revolution. The term poptimism originated in the music world as a reaction to stodgy music reviewers’ love of Bob Dylan and “argues for a more inclusive view of what matters and what’s pleasurable in music.” Donnelly insists that book reviewers and literary culture could stand to benefit from a wider audience by embracing popular books.

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Peak Dystopia

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Adam Sternbergh, author of Dystopian novel Shovel Ready, asked whether readers are burning out on the Dystopian novel. He goes as far as suggesting that perhaps the next great novel will be a Utopian one. Emily Temple, writing at Flavorwire, explains why Utopias don’t make good novel settings:

The reason that utopian novels are far and few between is that a utopia is, on a very basic level, just not a good topic for a novel.

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New, Old Salinger Stories

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Having realized the rights to three unpublished Salinger stories were unclaimed, small publisher Devault-Graves set about purchasing them. The stories were published earlier this week. But despite the fun of having a little more Salinger to read, some are unhappy with how the stories were released:

They’re more innocent, more trusting, but ultimately, and unfortunately, they’re not all that much to write home about.

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The Era of Celebrity Bookselling

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The Colbert Bump helped propel Edan Lepucki‘s California to the third spot on the New York Times bestseller list. Lena Dunham’s endorsement helped sell Adelle Waldman‘s The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. Celebrity and celebrity endorsements have long played a role in moving products.

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NYPL Hosts Panel on Amazon

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The continuing battle between Amazon and Hachette was the focus of a panel discussion hosted by the New York Public Library last week featuring novelist James Patterson, publisher Morgan Entrekin, literary agent Tina Bennett, and several political theorists. Jason Diamond has a writeup at Flavorwire:

The takeaway from the event was this: the trouble Amazon causes the book industry is but a symptom of a larger and dangerous illness (there’s also the company’s well-documented poor treatment of its employees, for instance) and it leaves you wondering what comes after books.

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A Serious Man

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In a recently tweeted series of amateur photos, artist and writer Szilvia Molnar satirizes the figure of the cool male writer so often conveyed in author portraits by the presence of a cigarette. Having noticed a discrepancy between the portrayal of Karl Ove Knausgaard and Zadie Smith in promotional photos for a publishing event, Molnar took it upon herself to reveal the manufactured ridiculousness of the serious cool-guy image with selfies that can’t possibly be taken seriously.

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