Independent bookstores will save the world, or at least the publishing industry, maybe. Josh Weil and Mike Harvkey took a road trip across the country, exploring independent bookstores. They found a collection of dedicated shops and local literary communities, but that didn’t answer the fundamental question: how important are independent bookstores are to writers?...more
Posts Tagged: salon
In Rainey Royal, Landis explores the boundaries between sexual object and subject, victim and agent.
Over at Salon, Eliza Berman reviews Dylan Landis’ latest novel Rainey Royal going deep into its accurate depiction of teenage sexuality. Curious, now? You can read an excerpt from “Rainey Royal” on Midnight Breakfast....more
Salon has published an excerpt from Edward E. Baptist’s new book about the relationship between slavery and the development of capitalism in America. In it, he identifies the ways in which the American master narrative has written slavery out of our nation’s history and denied the system of mass murder and suffering on whose back the land of the free was conceived:
It would have to avoid the old platitudes, such as the easy temptation to tell the story as a collection of topics—here a chapter on slave resistance, there one on women and slavery, and so on.
At Salon, Laura Miller rebukes Will Self’s criticism of George Orwell at the BBC, arguing that the British novelist has misinterpreted “Politics and the English Language.” She emphasizes the importance that, in his essay, Orwell discussed political writing and did not suggest his “rules” apply to fiction....more
“We’re doing this because we’re buds and we’re starting new books. We’ve always talked our ideas through with each other; it’s always helped. Through these conversations, we’ve grown as writers together.”
Josh Weil and Mike Harvkey have been longtime friends. Now, both with new novels on the way, they have embarked on a five day trip through America to talk about their writing....more
The success of The Magicians trilogy stems in part from its self-awareness. Lev Grossman wields his familiarity with fantasy genre fiction to critique and alter the usual formula. So why do his female characters all serve the same purpose?
…he’d almost certainly be familiar with the infamous tradition of “Women in Refrigerators,” coined by comic fan Gail Simone in 1999: It means, basically, that female characters are often killed off or otherwise grotesquely traumatized (raped, tortured, paralyzed, stripped of superpowers, etc.) to motivate angst on the part of male leads.
At Salon, Molly Fischer criticizes the New York Times’s “Bookends” column, going so far as to suggest that the it be eliminated for good. She compares the question-and-answer formats — and the content of the prompts — as reminiscent of high school English classes:
It’s not just the stiff phrasing (“What should we make of this?” “What’s behind the notion?”) that gives Bookends its blue-books-and-binder-paper feel.
I do know that job one is to keep writing and talking about the things that scare the trolls – not just feminism but race and LGBT rights and everything else that pisses them off. Filters and moderators and sign-in requirements will only get us so far.
It’s no surprise from how the Bronte sisters wrote about school in their novels that their school reports would be less than exemplary. Still, to read Charlotte Bronte’s school report that describes her as an indifferent writer who knows little of grammar is pretty hilarious....more
Most people think clichés aren’t worth a hill of beans, but over at Salon, Orin Hargraves says they just haven’t gotten a fair shake. Hargraves thinks clichés are just a red herring; if you want to make sure your writing really is one-of-a-kind, he has this advice:
The best way to free your speech and writing of unneeded and detrimental clichés is to construct it thoughtfully, paying close attention to the common tendency to insert a ready form of words in a place where it easily fits.
Social media is a cruel machine, propelled by our desire to keep up appearances and affirmed by a strange, voyeuristic capital of likes and favorites. While Facebook can at times feel like a digital cocktail party devoid of any significant personal connection, Julia Fierro, author of Cutting Teeth, makes a case for its value to those who struggle with anxiety and loneliness:
It is socializing on my own terms.
I can confirm, based on my own reading list this spring, that there is no shortage of fiction set in Brooklyn. In fact, you could almost say that the Lethems and, more recently, the Lins have been supplanted: It’s been a dazzling couple of years for the women of Brooklyn.
My time at the Agency and reading Salinger brought me back to that state when you’re a kid or an adolescent – or just a person! – who reads for pleasure. I was able to go back to the pre-academic me who fully understood the actual pure power of literature to change a person’s life, to guide a person through life, or to allow a person to live fully.
Surprisingly, YouTube is only now getting its foot in the door with the music streaming game. Their grand entrance, according to this article at Salon, involves terms with which a large number of independent artists disagree—Radiohead, Vampire Weekend, and Animal Collective, just to name a few....more
And the winner of Best Opening Line Ever goes to: “I was a gay man playing ‘Warcraft’ as a beautiful woman, and he was a Mormon virgin. Our romance was a time bomb.”
Over at Salon, Elliot Glen tells the story of his pixel-mediated relationship with a callow, straight, Mormon virgin:
I first met SaltySaber in a dark and dangerous swamp, where he answered my desperate cry for help and rescued me from a gaggle of ruthless ghosts .
With its clean, careful shots and enigmatic plot resolutions, Mad Men tends to inhabit a liminal narrative space, as if the same rules of decorum that govern its romanticized 60s society extend their authority to the show’s refined formal characteristics. This aversion to definitive conclusion is no accident: writing for Salon, Rebecca Makkai examines how the series recalls John Cheever’s iconic short fiction, which creator Matthew Weiner has listed as an influence:
I imagined all his stories to involve a businessman who got off the evening train drunk, stood in his yard peering in through the windows of his own house, and had some sort of sad revelation…[but instead,] in each story, a small world of alienation and humor and despair, a meditation on family or work, the city or the suburbs, travel or stasis, success or failure.
Geoff Dyer has a new book out, Another Great Day at the Sea, written during a two-week writing residency on the USS George H.W. Bush in the Persian Gulf....more
Jill Abramson, the first woman to head the New York Times as executive editor, was abruptly fired Wednesday and replaced by managing editor Dean Baquet.
The New Yorker attempted to explain why, with the leading theory being Abramson’s discovery several weeks ago that she earned less than her male predecessor....more
Gather round, ye James Joyce devotees: Mark O’Connell has an essay (replete with some pretty nifty info-graphics) up at Salon on the Dublin of the past and present:
Everyone in Dubliners is thinking about a way out, if not actively pursuing one; everyone is dreaming of some better version of himself in some better place. The stories are filled with vague conjurings of such better places—the Wild West in “An Encounter”; the hazily evoked Orient in “Araby”; Buenos Aires in “Eveline”; London and Paris in “A Little Cloud”—but what seem like possibilities of escape always turn out to be passages to deeper entrapment.
Literary history has two sides, I think. One is the normative side: deciding what is good and what is less good. The other is the explanatory side. It’s two very different modalities of thought, and I’ve always been inclined toward the explanatory.
Reading is a private activity, even as it allows us to commune with the mind and imagination of an author we will probably never meet. Yet because reading a great book can be so overwhelmingly gratifying and transformative, many of us yearn to share the experience with the people we care about.
At one time, irony served to reveal hypocrisies, but now it simply acknowledges one’s cultural compliance and familiarity with pop trends. The art of irony has lost its vision and its edge. The rebellious posture of the past has been annexed by the very commercialism it sought to defy.
Think Wilde, Wodehouse, Carroll, Cervantes—comedy has a thousand-year-old affair with literature. That said, what makes people laugh is as elusive and surprising as it is fascinating. Have you heard of the 1962 Tanganyika laughter epidemic?
We’re here in East Africa on the trail of the so-called 1962 Tanganyika laughter epidemic.
Marina Keegan died in a car accident just five days after she graduated from Yale University. But her writing lives on, and lends an empathetic voice to the often tedious discussions of millennials. From her posthumous essay, “Song for the special,” in Salon:
Every generation thinks it’s special — my grandparents because they remember World War II, my parents because of discos and the moon.