Posts Tagged: New York Times

The Trouble with Pronouns

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I would never have consented to writing the story using a gendered pronoun for Sasha, but when that approach was rejected, writing without using pronouns at all seemed like a good solution. It was challenging to write that way without it being awkward, but it also felt a bit like writing formal poetry — the constraints can end up making you more creative.

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Searching for Cervantes

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After a Times article last March criticized Spain (and its literary establishment) for failing to unravel the mystery of the precise location of Miguel de Cervantes’s grave, a reinvigorated search may have finally yielded results. Cervantes was buried in Madrid’s Trinitarias convent, but the specific site was not marked (or not marked well); the discovery of a casket with the initials M.

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Behind the Scenes with Beckett

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In a piece for the Times’s Sunday Book Review, Paul Muldoon leads a fascinating and warm-hearted expedition through the letters and poems of Samuel Beckett, new volumes of which will become available in the coming months. One could argue that Muldoon is prone to hyperbole, at times; he casually describes Krapp’s Last Tape as “the single greatest evocation of loss and longing of the 20th century” and declares that “to describe [Beckett’s] line breaks as arbitrary would be a kindness.” On the whole, though, Muldoon inspires confidence through his insightful readings and engaging prose, giving readers a captivating window into Beckett’s writing life, and the collaborative relationships that brought his plays and radio dramas to the world.

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Changing Shakespeare

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A French public library has discovered that the institution possesses a rare ‘first folio’ of the works of William Shakespeare. There are many first folios, but these earliest anthologies all contain variations in the texts. (The writing we have come to know as the definitive works have actually been pieced together by scholars who’ve researched and compared the various versions of first folios.) For example, the newly discovered folio has changes in Henry IV:

In one scene in “Henry IV,” the word “hostess” is changed to “host” and “wench” to “fellow” — possibly reflecting an early performance where a female character was turned into a male.

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Exploring the “Russian Soul”

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For the New York Times, Francine Prose and Benjamin Moser share their experiences reading 19th century Russian literature. While Prose shows an appreciation for the timeless themes of Tolstoy and Gogol, Moser contends that what makes 19th century Russian writers distinctive is the way their work “echoed their particular national history.” 

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Tart, Mitchell, and Gaiman to the Rescue

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After years of financial struggle, Barnes & Noble’s enlists renowned authors like Donna Tart, David Mitchell and Neil Gaiman to help compete with Amazon this holiday season. While Tart and Mitchell will contribute thousands of signed books to helps bolster sales, Gaiman has planned appearances at several of the chain’s bookstores.

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This Week in Short Fiction

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On Wednesday evening, Phil Klay’s Redeployment won the National Book Award for fiction, making it the first short story collection to win the award since Andrea Barrett’s Ship Fever in 1996. That’s 18 years. But what’s maybe more startling is that the collection, which takes multiple perspectives of people involved in and returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, stands nearly alone as a fictional account that has risen to the national level of attention since the war in Afghanistan began in 2003.

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The Making of Michael Pietsch

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Amazon and Hachette have, for now, resolved their dispute. But their protracted battle over pricing has made Hachette’s Chief Executive Michael Pietsch something of a hero to many in the literary community—in Distinction, Pietsch discusses his journey from a small Boston publishing firm to leading the charge against Amazon:

My first job in publishing was as a dogsbody at a small firm in Boston.

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Light Reading

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Why do readers love to hate the Times’s Style section? While many of its trend pieces are guilty of the same transgressions committed elsewhere in mainstream media, a history of misogyny and homophobia directed at lifestyle journalism suggests our contempt goes beyond objective criticism:

Far from detailing the paper’s ignominious decline into muddy ethical waters and vacuous intellectual territory, the history of style reporting at the New York Times actually exposes some of the nastiest truths about misogyny and homophobia in the mass media: their intensity, their unbelievable durations (by which I mean “totally believable”), their active contemporary manifestations, and the role audiences play in perpetuating them.

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Streaming the Book Fair, Olympic-Style

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According to a report in the New York Times, PBS will be live-streaming the Miami Book Fair at Dade College later this month. Representatives at PBS cite a strong correlation between public television watchers and book consumers, and will be working with the festival to broadcast “Olympic-style coverage” of author events, panels, and interviews.

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