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Trans-Thrillers

from The Atlantic

Why Men Pretend to Be Women to Sell Thrillers

Over the last decade, female writers have come to dominate crime fiction, a genre traditionally associated with men. But their appeal goes beyond the byline.

by SOPHIE GILBERT

Rafael Marchante / Reuters

Almost 10 years ago, Martyn Waites, a British crime writer, was having coffee with his editor. Waites, who was at something of a loose end project-wise, was looking for new ideas. His editor, though, was looking for a woman. Or, more specifically, a high-concept female thriller writer who could be the U.K.’s Karin Slaughter or Tess Gerritsen.

“I said I could do it,” Waites recalls. His editor was skeptical. But then Waites outlined an idea for a book based on a news story he’d once read, about a serial killer targeting pregnant women and cutting out their fetuses. The concept, he admits somewhat bashfully, was a gruesome one.

“That’s exactly what we’re looking for,” was his editor’s response.

That idea became The Surrogate, a crime thriller published in 2009, and Waites simultaneously became Tania Carver, his female alter ego. Before he started writing, he embarked on a period of research, reading novels by popular female crime writers, and made “copious notes” about their various heroes and villains. Waites was an actor before he was a writer, and “Martyn” and “Tania” soon became different personas in his head, almost like characters. He’d sit down to write as Tania and then realize the concept was much better suited to Martyn. Martyn books, he explains, “were more complex, more metaphorical. The kind of things I like in writing.” Tania books were simpler: mainstream commercial thrillers aimed at a female audience. And they rapidly became more successful than any of Waites’s previous books had been.

The case of a male author using a female pseudonym to write fiction was relatively unheard of when Tania Carver emerged, but the explosion of female-oriented crime fiction in the last five years has led to an increasing number of male authors adopting gender-neutral names to publish their work. Last month, The Wall Street Journal’s Ellen Gamerman considered the phenomenon, interviewing a number of writers who fessed up to being men: Riley Sager (Todd Ritter), A.J. Finn (Daniel Mallory), S.J. Watson (Steve Watson), J.P. Delaney (Tony Strong), S.K. Tremayne (Sean Thomas). The trend is ironic, Gamerman pointed out, because the history of fiction is littered with women writers adopting male or gender-neutral pseudonyms to get their work published, from the Brontë sisters to J.K. Rowling.

[ click to continue reading at The Atlantic ]

Posted on August 26, 2017 by Editor

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Sam Shepard Gone

from DEADLINE 

Broadway Will Dim The Lights For Sam Shepard

by Jeremy Gerard

Ben Rothstein/Warner Bros./REX/Shutterstock

On Broadway, Shepard debuted with his contribution to the musical revue Oh! Calcutta! (1969) followed by Operation Sidewinder (1970), a revival of Oh! Calcutta!(1976), Buried Child (1996), True West (2000), and Fool for Love (2015). He received Tony Award nominations in 2000 for True West and 1996 for Buried Child, for which he had earlier been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

“Sam Shepard was a prolific storyteller who created provocative, thoughtful, and exciting work for Broadway, off-Broadway, and film. His original voice was a definite draw for audiences and had an undeniable influence on other artists,” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League. “He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and colleagues.”

PREVIOUSLY with more information: Sam Shepard, whose snaggle-toothed smile, craggy good looks and outlaw style as actor and writer made him an American icon in the mold of Gary Cooper and Marlon Brando, died July 27 at home in Kentucky. He was 73 and had been suffering from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was surrounded by family at the time of his death, according to Chris Boneau, a family spokesman.

A Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, actor, author, screenwriter and director, Shepard was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in Philip Kaufman’s 1983 film The Right Stuff. The author of 44 plays, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for Buried Child and was best known for such works as Fool for LoveTrue West and A Lie of the Mind. In 2009 he was named the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award as a master American dramatist.

[ click to continue reading at DEADLINE ]

Posted on August 1, 2017 by Editor

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Pittacus Rises NYT #2

from Facebook

[ click to view on Facebook ]

Posted on July 12, 2017 by Editor

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Is my husband gay, is my wife crazy?

from Vox

Proof that Americans are lying about their sexual desires

by Sean Illing

Two weeks ago, I interviewed Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of Everybody Lies, a new book that uses data on America’s Google habits as an insight into our national consciousness.

Two findings from the book dominated the conversation: America is riddled with racist and selfish people, and there may be a self-induced abortion crisis in this country.

But there was plenty more revelatory data in the book that we didn’t cover. So I wanted to follow up with Stephens-Davidowitz to talk about some of the other provocative claims he is making.

I was particularly interested in sexuality and online porn. If, as Stephens-Davidowitz puts it, “Google is a digital truth serum,” then what else does it tell us about our private thoughts and desires? What else are we hiding from our friends, neighbors, and colleagues?

A lot, apparently.

Among other things, Stephens-Davidowitz’s data suggests that there are more gay men in the closet than we think; that many men prefer overweight women to skinny women but are afraid to act on it; that married women are disproportionately worried their husband is gay; that a lot of straight women watch lesbian porn; and that porn featuring violence against women is more popular among women than men.

I asked Stephens-Davidowitz to explain the data behind all of this. Here’s what he told me.

[ click to continue reading at Vox ]

Posted on July 8, 2017 by Editor

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The Alexandria Quartet

from Literary Hub

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF THE LIBRARY OF ALEXANDRIA

ONE OF THE GREAT CENTERS OF HUMAN KNOWLEDGE, EVER

By James Crawford

In 1960, four novels by the well-known English writer Lawrence Durrell were brought together in one volume and published as The Alexandria Quartet. Described by its author as “an investigation of modern love,” it was set in the Egyptian city of Alexandria before and during the Second World War, and was largely based on Durrell’s own experiences during his time there as a press attaché. The Quartet traced the personal lives of a number of key characters—seemingly based on real individuals, including Durrell’s second wife—from different, competing perspectives. He later claimed, however, that, out of all of the people portrayed and incidents featured, “only the city is real.”

Alexandria was the true hero of the book: an exotic, darkly seductive and sensuous city, fragrant of “offal and drying mud, of carnations and jasmine, of animal sweat and clover.” Durrell painted a picture of a cosmopolitan, Greco-Arab outpost, where East met West in a delicious collision of hotels, hashish cafés, colonial villas and squalid slums, all set between the blankness of the desert and the blue of the Mediterranean. Yet Durrell’s Alexandria was far from a product of the 20th century alone. Instead he called it a “capital of memory,” a place that still held on to the “echoes of an extraordinary history.” It was a remnant and a shadow of a much greater city, one born out of a dream two-and-a-half thousand years old.

In 331 BC, according to the Greek historian Plutarch, after successfully conquering Egypt, Alexander the Great received a vision in his sleep. A “grey-haired man of venerable appearance,” told him of “an island in the much-dashing sea in front of Egypt: Pharos is what men call it.” Alexander believed that this visitation was the Greek poet Homer, communicating from beyond the grave. When he travelled to view Pharos, he declared it to be the perfect spot for a city: a city that would bear his name, and that would become a new capital of the ancient world.

[ click to continue reading at Literary Hub ]

Posted on March 20, 2017 by Editor

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Buy This Dude’s Book – “The Pilgrim’s Ladder”

from KRCR

Climber reveals survival tale after 2,000 ft. fall from mountain

By: Kelli Saam

PARADISE, Calif. – A mountain climber from Butte County survived two days in the snow after falling about 2,000 feet from a mountain summit in Colorado. Doctors in Colorado told his family it’s a fall no one would be expected to survive.

Ryan Montoya, 23, of Paradise, is recovering in a Denver hospital. He went missing Sunday while climbing alone trying to summit Pyramid Peak, a 14,000 foot peak near Aspen, Colorado.

Montoya’s mother said he was about 40 feet from the summit when the ice he stepped on collapsed, sending him sliding down the mountain. She shared what he told her about how he survived.

Montoya slid an estimated 1,500-2,000 feet down East face of the mountain, later telling his mother he fell long enough “to do a lot of talking, thinking and yelling all the way down.”

His mother said two weeks ago he published a book available on Amazon. The book is called ‘The Pilgrim’s Ladder.’  It is about climbing, life, the search for beauty and truth, with some philosophical musings. Montoya is an avid climber and has traveled to the mountains of Nepal.

On facebook, his mother quipped “It would be nice if he sold enough copies for pay for a new climbing helmet!”

[ click to read full article at KRCR ]
[ click to purchase Ryan’s book at Amazon ]

Posted on March 8, 2017 by Editor

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Little Shaq to SPROUT

from Deadline

Sprout Greenlights New Series ‘Remy And Boo’; Renews ‘Floogals’ & ‘Nina’s World’; Sets Development Slate

by 

Sprout, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment’s 24-hour preschool network, is expanding its original programming slate with the greenlight of new series Remy and Boo created by Industrial Brothers’ Matt Fernandes and produced by Industrial Brothers and Boat Rocker Studios. The network also has given Season 2 renewals to its popular original series Floogals and Nina’s World and set several new projects in development, including an original series executive produced by Shaquille O’Neal.

Among the new projects on Sprout’s development slate are Little Shaq, executive produced by Shaquille O’Neal. Inspired by the former NBA superstar’s real life childhood, the series follows an outsized boy’s funny and often awkward adventures in his urban American neighborhood. From Universal Cable Productions, the series is also executive produced by Full Fathom Five’s James Frey and Todd Cohen.

[ click to read complete article at Deadline.com ]

Posted on February 11, 2017 by Editor

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ENDGAME: Rules of The Game

Posted on January 19, 2017 by Editor

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#ThisIsEndgame

from Facebook

eg-fr

[ click to visit at Facebook ]

Posted on November 14, 2016 by Editor

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The hedonists. The provocateur. The phenom.

from Harper’s Bazaar

SEX, DRUGS, AND BESTSELLERS: THE LEGEND OF THE LITERARY BRAT PACK

By 

Bret Easton Ellis, Gary Fisketjon, and Jay McInerney in June 1987 / Patrick McMullan

The hedonists. The provocateur. The phenom. The forgotten talent. In the decadent 1980s, the media shipped novelists Jay McInerney, Bret Easton Ellis, Tama Janowitz, Donna Tartt and Jill Eisenstadt into a loose-knit group known as the “literary brat pack.” One member would go on to win a Pulitzer; one would become better known for controversy than fiction; another would exemplify the excessive highs and very public lows of the decade; and another would slowly fade from view.

A generation of readers loved them. Critics largely despised them. And for a time, they were celebrated for their youth as much as their work. But they also helped change the course of American literature—and looked great doing it. “I think we made fiction fun again,” says McInerney.

[ click to continue reading at Harper’s ]

Posted on November 12, 2016 by Editor

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James Lackington, Bookseller

from Literary Hub

THE MAN WHO INVENTED BOOKSELLING AS WE KNOW IT

ON JAMES LACKINGTON’S TEMPLE OF THE MUSES, “THE CHEAPEST BOOKSTORE IN THE WORLD”

By John Pipkin

Today, few people are likely to remember James Lackington (1746-1815) and his once-famous London bookshop, The Temple of the Muses, but if, as a customer, you’ve ever bought a remaindered book at deep discount, or wandered thoughtfully through the over-stocked shelves of a cavernous bookstore, or spent an afternoon lounging in the reading area of a bookshop (without buying anything!) then you’ve already experienced some of the ways that Lackington revolutionized bookselling in the late 18th century. And if you’re a bookseller, then the chances are that you’ve encountered marketing strategies and competitive pressures that trace their origins to Lackington’s shop. In the 21st-century marketplace, there is sometimes a longing for an earlier, simpler age, but the uneasy tension between giant and small retailers seems to have been a constant since the beginning. The Temple of the Muses, which was one of the first modern bookstores, was a mammoth enterprise, by far the largest bookstore in England, boasting an inventory of over 500,000 volumes, annual sales of 100,000 books, and yearly revenues of £5,000 (roughly $700,000 today). All of this made Lackington a very wealthy man—admired by some and despised by others—but London’s greatest bookseller began his career inauspiciously as an illiterate shoemaker.

[ click to continue reading at LitHub.com ]

Posted on October 13, 2016 by Editor

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The United States of Books

from Electric Lit

INFOGRAPHIC: 50 States of Literature

A tour of the United States through books!

[ click to read at ElectricLIterature.com ]

Posted on October 11, 2016 by Editor

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Society’s Fears In Words

from TIME

What the List of Most Banned Books Says About Our Society’s Fears

by Sarah Begley

Censors are increasingly focusing on books that represent diverse points of view

For as long as humans have printed books, censors have argued over their content and tried to limit some books’ distribution. But the reasons for challenging literature change over time, and as Banned Book Week begins on Sept. 25, it’s clear that public discomfort with particular ideas has evolved rapidly even in the last 20 years.

When the American Library Association started keeping a database of challenged books in the early ’90s, the reasons cited were fairly straightforward, according to James LaRue, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. “‘Don’t like the language,’ or ‘There’s too much sex’—they’d tend to fall into those two categories,” he says. Some books are still challenged for those reasons—Fifty Shades of Grey is a common example. But there’s been a shift toward seeking to ban books “focused on issues of diversity—things that are by or about people of color, or LGBT, or disabilities, or religious and cultural minorities,” LaRue says. “It seems like that shift is very clear.”

[ click to continue reading at TIME ]

Posted on October 1, 2016 by Editor

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“The power of an ellipsis…”

from The Times Literary Supplement

Byron burning

CORIN THROSBY 

A sketch from The Wonderful History of Lord Byron & His Dog by E. B. Pigot, 1807 © Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Byron knew, more than any author before him, the power of an ellipsis. Foreshadowing twentieth-century theorists such as Wolfgang Iser, who posited that it is primarily the reader who creates a poem’s meaning by navigating gaps in the text, Byron filled his work with tantalizing omissions to fire the imagination. One of his bestselling poems, The Giaour, a classically Byronic tale of a brooding hero avenging his murdered beloved, was subtitled “A Fragment” to create an illusion that the full story lay elsewhere. The poem is riddled with as­terisks that mark supposedly lost sections. “An outline is the best,” Byron wrote in his final epic Don Juan, “– a lively reader’s fancy does the rest”.

The poet invited conjecture not only about his work but also about his personal life. Readers were quick to see a link between Byron’s melancholic aristocratic heroes and the poet himself. In his preface to the work that made him famous in 1814, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Byron insisted that his character was not based on a “real personage”, but purely “the child of imagination”. Yet he continually gave his heroes the same dark hair and pale brow that readers were seeing in reproduced portraits of the poet that hung in countless print shop windows, and he often dropped in teasing autobiographical references to ancestral homes and heroic acts abroad. Readers looked for coded messages that they felt revealed the real Byron amid the gossip, and the Byronic hero was just ambiguous enough for them to see in him whatever suited them.

It is a wonderful dramatic irony, then, that Byron’s memoirs – which might have finally provided the “truth” about his life – were destroyed soon after his death. The story goes that three of his closest friends (his publisher, John Murray; his fellow celebrity poet, Thomas Moore; and his companion since his Cambridge days, John Cam Hobhouse), together with lawyers representing Byron’s half-sister and his widow, decided that the manuscript was so scandalous, so unsuitable for public consumption, that it would ruin Byron’s reputation forever. Gathered in Murray’s drawing room in Albemarle Street, they ripped up the pages and tossed them into the fire. The incident is often described as the greatest crime in literary ­history. It has certainly served to fuel curiosity and conjecture about Byron’s personal life for another couple of centuries. What was the damning secret his friends needed to protect? Domestic abuse? Sodomy? Incest? Probably all three, we imagine.

[ click to continue reading at The Times Literary Supplement ]

Posted on September 25, 2016 by Editor

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UNITED AS ONE Makes I AM NUMBER FOUR Series #1 Again

from The New York Times

4nyt1

[ click to read full list at The New York Times ]

Posted on July 17, 2016 by Editor

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‘Focus: The Secret, Sexy, Sometimes Sordid World of Fashion Photographers’ by Michael Gross

from The Daily Mail

Group sex, a speed addiction and an affair with 18-year-old Anjelica Huston: The weird world of photographer Terry Richardson’s dad revealed in shocking new book

By JAMES WILKINSON

Dad: Terry Richardson is now a father himself, having had two kids - Rex and Roman - with girlfriend Alex Bolotow (left)Dad: Terry Richardson is now a father himself, having had two kids – Rex and Roman – with girlfriend Alex Bolotow (left)

Terry Richardson is the bad boy of fashion photography: his sexually explicit, in-your-face shoots – sometimes involving real sex acts – have earned him a following that includes Lady Gaga, Marc Jacobs and Yves Saint Laurent.

He’s also been accused of pressuring models into sex by Danish model Rie Rasmussen, a claim he denies. But as controversial as his own career has been, it can’t hold a candle to his father’s.

An amphetamine-addicted schizophrenic, Bob Richardson turned the world upside down for the fashion industry – and for young Terry, who was drawn into his disturbing world of group sex, hard drugs and violent outbursts.

The startling story was revealed by the NY Post Saturday in an excerpt from ‘Focus: The Secret, Sexy, Sometimes Sordid World of Fashion Photographers’ by Michael Gross.

Born in 1928 to a Catholic family in Long Island, New York, Richardson – initially a graphic designer – didn’t pick up a camera until 1963, when he was 35.

But when he did, he went at the job hard, telling himself he had to become a ‘legend’ in the industry and injecting himself with amphetamine-laced vitamin supplements that would let him for for days at a time without sleeping.

Fractious, arrogant, brilliant and driven, Richardson was infamous in the 1960s for causing a ruckus on sets, ruining clothing, going into tremendous outbursts and infuriating his clients.

‘I’m told you’re a genius, but I don’t see it,’ Charles Revson, owner of Revlon, told him one time.

‘Get your eyes examined,’ Richardson barked at him.

His arms bruised by needle tracks from self-administered amphetamine shots, Richardson shot glamorous models for Paris Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, bringing a gritty rock ‘n’ roll ethos that was revolutionary at the time.

But he pushed himself too far, working day and night in the grip of an ever-growing drug dependency.

[ click to continue reading at The Daily Mail ]

Posted on June 26, 2016 by Editor

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Franzen Upchuck

from The Observer

Why I Almost Committed Suicide Watching Jonathan Franzen on Jeopardy

A three-time Jeopardy champ nearly loses it seeing a slightly more famous writer at the game-show podium

Neal Pollack

I’m a Jeopardy! champion. I won three games in September of 2013. This didn’t happen during “Power Players Week.” I’m not a power player to anyone but that one guy in Pittsburgh who bought my band’s album in 2004, and also the editor of this newspaper, who wanted me to review Jonathan Franzen’s appearance on Jeopardy! Power Players Week. So here goes.

On Jeopardy, Jonathan Franzen knew all the answers. Of course he did. He’s Jonathan Franzen! They gave him a category about Birds in the first round. He got those questions right, of course. That’s like giving me a category called “Jerkin’ It.” There was also a Shakespeare category. Mr. Franzen knew those answers, too, though he didn’t ring in to answer that the Tamer of the Shrew was named Petruchio, an answer that I, sitting on my couch in my underwear while smoking a joint, knew immediately. “I should have known that,” Franzen said, fake-demurely.

Curse you, Franzen!

Then came the moment when Alex Trebek, the evil lord of knowledge, talks to the players. He and Mr. Franzen spent 30 seconds dissing Twitter, a doomsday scenario, a meeting of the ubermenschen that shattered my soul forever. “Do you think in our society, Twitter is trivializing importance?” Alex Trebek asked Jonathan Franzen. Even typing that phrase—“Alex Trebek asked Jonathan Franzen”—hurts my heart. Believe it or not, Mr. Franzen did, and then talked about how it was impossible to form a counter-argument on Twitter.

[ click to continue reading at The Observer ]

Posted on May 17, 2016 by Editor

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The Proper Pot-smoker

from Vanity Fair

The Author of How to Smoke Pot (Properly) Wants to Keep Weed Weird, Even When It’s Legal

BY ANDREA WHITTLE

Courtesy of Plume/Penguin Random House.

Passionate pothead and 15-year veteran journalist David Bienenstock came up with the idea for his latest book on January 1, 2014—the day America’s first retail marijuana stores opened to anyone 21 or older. The result: How to Smoke Pot (Properly), a pocket-size book that examines the past, present, and future of marijuana in an era of rapid change for the drug’s social acceptability. Published this month by Plume Books, Bienenstock takes readers on a humorous and informative trip through the drug’s various medicinal compounds, a timeline of the its history, and recipes that take you beyond the standard pot brownie—with pro tips from cannabis-friendly celebrities sprinkled throughout. Vanity Fair spoke to the Vice columnist, former High Times editor, and founder of a curated cannabis tourism company about marijuana culture, the double-edged sword of legalization, and how to fit in if you’re thinking of joining the so-called “green rush.”

Vanity Fair: In the book’s introduction, you write, “Please think of this humble tome in your hands not just as a handbook or a guidebook, but a call to metaphorical arms.” How would you summarize your “mission statement” for this book?

David Bienenstock: I think the book looks at where marijuana culture is right now and where we’re going, and I think it’s important amid all the excitement of legalization to realize that this culture and the people who grow and consume and share this plant are still being oppressed all over the world and even in the United States. So while we’ve gained a tremendous amount of freedom in places like Colorado and Washington, you go across the Colorado border into Kansas and you still have families being torn apart by this unconscionable war on weed. So I think the call, first of all, is to never forget that this is an ongoing campaign against this terribly misguided government policy, and that it’s [our responsibility] to participate not just in our own liberation but in everyone else’s. As long as one person is being oppressed for smoking marijuana, none of us are really free.

[ click to continue reading at VF ]

Posted on May 10, 2016 by Editor

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Berkeley Bookstores Surviving

from The San Jose Mercury News

Berkeley: Independent bookstores adapt to keep customers

By Tom Lochner

Steve Lehman, a regular shopper at Pegasus Books, peruses the offerings at the independent bookstore on Solano Ave. in Berkeley, Calif., on Tuesday, April(Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group)

BERKELEY — Battered by global economic forces, rising commercial rents, online buying and other changes in consumer behavior, many independent bookstores today are devising ever more creative solutions to stay in business.

Some don’t make it or simply give up — in Berkeley, Shakespeare & Co., Black Oak Books and William Stout Architectural Books closed within the last year, although the latter remains in business at its main store in San Francisco.

But many independent bookstores are experiencing a renaissance, reinventing themselves as literary community gathering venues, places not only to buy books but also to discuss them, meet their authors, listen to readings, and sometimes just to have fun.

[ click to continue reading at SJ Merc ]

Posted on April 24, 2016 by Editor

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Nabokov, Amateur Lepidopterist

from The New Yorker

Vladimir Nabokov, Butterfly Illustrator

BY 

Vladimir Nabokov began collecting lepidoptera at the age of seven. Throughout a long and protean literary career, his passion for insects remained unwavering. He published his first verses as a teen-ager, shortly before the Russian Revolution; in 1918, he fled St. Petersburg for Crimea, where he surveyed nine species of Crimean moths and seventy-seven species of Crimean butterflies. Two years later, as a first-year student at Cambridge University, he described his observations in a scholarly paper for The Entomologist. In 1940, having written nine novels in Russian and one in English, Nabokov immigrated to New York, where he became an affiliate in entomology at the American Museum of Natural History. The following year, he began working at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, devoting as much as fourteen hours a day to drawing the wings and genitalia of butterflies. “Fine Lines,” a new book out this week from Yale University Press, reproduces a hundred and fifty-four of his illustrations, some for the first time.

For a Nabokov fan, paging through “Fine Lines,” which includes a critical introduction and several essayistic evaluations of Nabokov’s scientific oeuvre, can feel a bit like reading the second half of “Pale Fire”: one is confronted by a content-rich, almost dementedly tangential commentary on an increasingly inscrutable work. And yet, as with “Pale Fire,” the commentary is so fully intertwined with the work that, by the end, it’s impossible to imagine one without the other. The writer and the lepidopterist really do turn out to be the same person, engaged in a single, if multifaceted, project of knowledge and description. As Stephen H. Blackwell and Kurt Johnson, the editors of the volume, note, the famous four-by-six-inch notecards on which Nabokov wrote his novels were originally the medium he used for his entomological studies.

When Nabokov started studying butterflies, his dream was to identify a new species. As a child, in 1909, he proposed a Latin name for a subspecies of poplar admiral that he had spotted near his family’s estate, only to be told by a famous entomologist that the subspecies had already been identified, in Bucovina, in 1897. As an adult, Nabokov had more luck. He named multiple species, most famously the Karner blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis), which he came across in upstate New York, in 1944.

[ click to continue reading at The New Yorker ]

Posted on April 18, 2016 by Editor

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Learning Through Writing

from the Richmond Times-Dispatch

My Life: Imparting life lessons among 10th-grade teacher’s favorite tasks

by Christina Grande

Christina GrandeCHRISTINA GRANDE

When I was in third grade, I dressed up as a teacher for Halloween. My mom sprayed my jet-black hair gray (with semi-permanent dye) and wound it into a bun. Making my look complete, she fitted me with plastic black frames, a long skirt and a button-down shirt. I stood up tall to show the camera my best prim and proper stance, putting on a serious look.

Twenty-eight years later, in classroom A2, I stand in front of my 10th-graders in leggings, flats, and hair that always hangs down my back. At this stage in my life, I am nothing like the snapshot of a teacher I saved from years ago. There is nothing prim and proper about my attire, nor is there anything prim and proper about my attitude. While I love literature and writing, my favorite things to impart upon my students are thoughts and ideas about life.

Before class, Maddie whispers to me that she has a secret to tell me afterward. Even though I know the secret will be about a boy and a crush and maybe things that will have no relevance tomorrow, I smile, because this is the essence of childhood and youth.

In Room A2 at 10 a.m., these are the details that matter. In a moment, we will talk about writing memoirs. Later on, Maddie might have to deal with her parents’ divorce and where she will spend her first separate Thanksgiving dinner — at her mom’s or her dad’s house. She might have to decide where she will apply to college or how her SAT scores compare to those of her peers. But, right now, in this moment, she will giggle and share whispers with her friend Sid. The bell has not rung. Third period has not yet begun. And right now, we are silly.

I keep this in the back of my mind as I remind myself that writing must be both thoughtful and fun. The bell rings, and I begin my lesson with a video about how to write six-word memoirs. I watch even the most disengaged kids become transfixed as they look at some examples of writers who have effectively used six words to convey their life stories. They see memoirs from famous people like Molly Ringwald who says, “Acting is not all I am,” and the writer James Frey who says, “So would you believe me anyway?”

I challenge them to create their own memoirs in 15 minutes, unsure of what will become of this short exercise. This is one of the few English classes at my school that is de-leveled, meaning that of the 17 students I teach in this course, half of them are honors students and the other half are standard-level students, who sometimes need additional support writing and crafting sentences. For this reason, I never know how to anticipate the engagement of my students.

[ click to continue reading at Richmond Times-Dispatch ]

Posted on April 4, 2016 by Editor

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Simonoff Wins Maxwell E. Perkins Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Field of Fiction

from Booktrade

Eric Simonoff Winner Of Center For Fiction’s Maxwell E. Perkins Award

ERIC SIMONOFF NAMED WINNER OF THE 2016 MAXWELL E. PERKINS AWARD FOR DISTINGUISHED ACHIEVEMENT IN THE FIELD OF FICTION

Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

March 29th, 2016, New York, NY — The Center for Fiction is pleased to announce that literary agent Eric Simonoff, Partner of William Morris Endeavor (WME), is the recipient of its 2016 Maxwell E. Perkins Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Field of Fiction.

The Center for Fiction is dedicated to celebrating, supporting and furthering the creation and enjoyment of the art of fiction and is the only non-profit literary organization in the United States devoted entirely to this art form. The award will be presented to Mr. Simonoff at the Center’s December 6 Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner in New York City. Upon the announcement Mr. Simonoff said: “I am enormously honored to receive the Max Perkins Award and to be added to the list of previous recipients, all of whom are professional heroes of mine.”

The Maxwell E. Perkins Award recognizes an editor, publisher, or agent who over the course of his or her career has discovered, nurtured, and championed writers of fiction in the United States. It honors Maxwell E. Perkins, of Scribner, one of the most important and admired editors in American literary history. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, and Ernest Hemingway are three of the many writers he supported over his long career.

Eric Simonoff was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and grew up across the Delaware River in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. He studied classics at Princeton University. Five days after graduating in 1989 he began his first job in publishing as editorial assistant to 2009 Maxwell Perkins Award recipient Gerry Howard. In 1991 he joined the literary agency Janklow & Nesbit Associates where he eventual rose to become Managing Director. In 2009 he moved to the William Morris Agency (which shortly thereafter became WME) to co-run their global book department. He has served on the board of directors of the City of New York Graduate Center and currently is a member of the board of directors of Poets & Writers Organization.

Among the clients he represents are Jhumpa Lahiri (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Interpreter of Maladies), Phil Klay (winner of the National Book Award for Redeployment), Edward P. Jones (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Known World), Karen E. Bender (National Book Award finalist for Refund), Kate Walbert (National Book Award finalist for Our Kind), Jonathan Lethem (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Motherless Brooklyn), ZZ Packer (chosen by The New Yorker as one of the twenty best American writers under 40 and a PEN/Faulkner finalist for Drinking Coffee Elsewhere), Chris Adrian (selected by The New Yorker for the same list), Daniel Alarcon (also on The New Yorker’s list and winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award for War by Candlelight), Philipp Meyer (another on The New Yorker’s list and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for The Son), Joseph Boyden (winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize for Through Black Spruce), Vikram Chandra (winner of the David Higham Award and the Commonwealth Writers Award for Red Earth and Pouring Rain), Stacy Schiff (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Vera), Nam Le (winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize for The Boat), Sam Lipsyte (winner of the Believer Book Award for Home Land),Yaa Gyasi (author of the forthcoming debut novel Homegoing), in addition to bestselling authors Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, Walter Kirn, Mary-Louise Parker, Bill O’Reilly, Susan Casey, James Frey, Trenton Lee Stewart, Amanda Vaill, Danielle Trussoni, Calvin Trillin, James Bradley, Ben Mezrich, Buzz Bissinger, Karen Thompson Walker, and many others.

[ click to read full release at Booktrade ]

Posted on March 30, 2016 by Editor

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Danielle Paige’s YELLOW BRICK WAR – Next Installment in the DOROTHY MUST DIE Series

from hypable

Danielle Paige discusses writing the way home in ‘Yellow Brick War’ (plus exclusive teaser!)

BY  MICHAL SCHICK

Danielle Paige shares her thoughts on Wicked developments and new challenges in Yellow Brick War, and we have an exclusive teaser for Dorothy’s return.

The Dorothy Must Die series follows the Kansas-born Amy Gumm through an Oz subsumed under by Dorothy Gale’s reign of terror. The third installment, Yellow Brick War, takes the battle back to the cornfields, where Amy must not only battle the enemies of her old life, but find a way to save Kansas from Dorothy’s nefarious plans.

[ click to continue reading at hypable.com ]

Posted on March 13, 2016 by Editor

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Thanks, Ricki Hall

from the Express and Star

World Book Day: What are the stars reading?

bookdayRicki Hall recommended James Frey’s novel

From a biography of a Second World War hero to a literary thriller about a man born out of wedlock to a feminist leader – the favourite reads of Black Country stars are revealed as World Book Day is celebrated around the globe.

Today is the 19th year of World Book Day, a celebration of authors, illustrators and books, which aims to inspire youngsters to explore the pleasures of reading by providing them with the chance to own a book of their very own.

Wolverhampton mechanic turned model Ricki Hall, aged 28, said A Million Little Pieces by James Frey was his favourite book.

Originally sold as a memoir and later marketed as a semi-fictional novel following accusations of literary forgery, it tells how a 23-year-old alcoholic and drug abuser copes with rehabilitation in a twelve steps-orientated treatment centre.

He said: “Hope you’ve read the sequel, My Friend Leonard!”

[ click to read full article at Express and Star ]

Posted on March 4, 2016 by Editor

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Umberto Eco Gone

from NPR

Italian Author And Philosopher Umberto Eco Dead At 84

by MERRIT KENNEDY

Italian writer Umberto Eco attends an event at the Paris Book Fair on March 30, 2010.Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

Internationally acclaimed Italian author and philosopher Umberto Eco has died at age 84. His death was confirmed by his American publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Born in a small Italian town in 1932, Eco is perhaps best known for his 1980 mystery novel The Name of the Rose, which is set in a monastery in the 14th century. It was an unexpected international bestseller, launching his career as an author.

Eco didn’t publish his first novel until he was 48, when a friend suggested he write a detective story. Before that, his focus was medieval studies and semiotics. And even after he published novels, he said “I am a philosopher … I write novels only on the weekends,” the BBC reported.

Here’s how Eco described his transition into fiction in an interview with The Paris Review:

“I have long thought that what most philosophical books are really doing at the core is telling the story of their research, just as scientists will explain how they came to make their major discoveries. So I feel that I was telling stories all along, just in a slightly different style.”

He told NPR’s Scott Simon last October that several of his novels like Foucault’s Pendulum and Numero Zero focused on characters that he affectionately termed “losers” — because “they are more interesting than the winners.”

“They have a more complicated philosophy,” Eco told Scott. “And then in the world, there are more losers than winners, and so my readers can identify themselves with the characters.”

[ click to continue reading at NPR ]

Posted on February 20, 2016 by Editor

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Harper Lee Gone

from The Washington Post

Harper Lee, elusive author of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ is dead

By Emily Langer

Harper Lee at the White House in 2007. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view,” Atticus Finch tells his daughter, Scout, in one of the most memorable passages of the classic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” — “until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Few people in the world could claim to really understand Harper Lee, the novel’s elusive author, who has died at 89 in Monroeville, Ala.

She withdrew from public life shortly after her book was published in 1960, only to reappear in old age with the sensational release of “Go Set a Watchman,” a manuscript identified as a long-lost early draft of the book that decades earlier had vaulted her to literary renown.

“To Kill a Mockingbird,” a coming-of-age story set in the Depression-era South where Ms. Lee grew up, received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961 and sold more than 40 million copies, becoming one of the most cherished novels in modern American literature. One oft-cited survey asked respondents to name the book that most profoundly affected their lives. Ms. Lee’s novel ranked near the top, not far behind the Bible.

[ click to continue reading at WaPo ]

Posted on February 19, 2016 by Editor

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Once Upon A Long, Long Time Ago….

from BBC News

Fairy tale origins thousands of years old, researchers say

An illustration of Beauty and the BeastResearchers found Beauty and the Beast was about 4,000 years old / PA

Fairy tales like Beauty and the Beast can be traced back thousands of years, according to researchers at universities in Durham and Lisbon.

Using techniques normally employed by biologists, academics studied links between stories from around the world and found some had prehistoric roots.

They found some tales were older than the earliest literary records, with one dating back to the Bronze Age.

The stories had been thought to date back to the 16th and 17th Centuries.

Durham University anthropologist Dr Jamie Tehrani, said Jack and the Beanstalk was rooted in a group of stories classified as The Boy Who Stole Ogre’s Treasure, and could be traced back to when Eastern and Western Indo-European languages split more than 5,000 years ago.

Analysis showed Beauty And The Beast and Rumpelstiltskin to be about 4,000 years old.

And a folk tale called The Smith And The Devil, about a blacksmith selling his soul in a pact with the Devil in order to gain supernatural abilities, was estimated to go back 6,000 years to the Bronze Age.

[ click to continue reading at BBC News ]

Posted on January 23, 2016 by Editor

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The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F†ck by SARAH KNIGHT

from The Observer Short List

sarah knight1

Minimalist Emotions: The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck

By
A parody of Marie Kondo’s decluttering bible, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Sarah Knight’s new humor book provides tips on how to cut down on unwanted obligations and feelings. It’s also small and white.

This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here.

[ click to read at The Observer ]

Posted on January 1, 2016 by Editor

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Cult Easton Ellis

from The New York Times

Bret Easton Ellis on Living in the Cult of Likability

By 

BRET EASTON ELLIS by Jeff Burton

This is an article from Turning Points, a magazine that explores what critical moments from this year might mean for the year ahead.

Turning Point: Uber becomes one of the world’s most valuable start-ups.

On a recent episode of the television series “South Park,” the character Cartman and other townspeople who are enthralled with Yelp, the app that lets customers rate and review restaurants, remind maître d’s and waiters that they will be posting reviews of their meals. These “Yelpers” threaten to give the eateries only one star out of five if they don’t please them and do exactly as they say. The restaurants feel that they have no choice but to comply with the Yelpers, who take advantage of their power by asking for free dishes and making suggestions on improving the lighting. The restaurant employees tolerate all this with increasing frustration and anger — at one point Yelp reviewers are even compared to the Islamic State group — before both parties finally arrive at a truce. Yet unknown to the Yelpers, the restaurants decide to get their revenge by contaminating the Yelpers’ plates with every bodily fluid imaginable.

The point of the episode is that today everyone thinks that they’re a professional critic (“Everyone relies on my Yelp reviews!”), even if they have no idea what they’re talking about. But it’s also a bleak commentary on what has become known as the “reputation economy.” In depicting the restaurants’ getting their revenge on the Yelpers, the episode touches on the fact that services today are also rating us, which raises a question: How will we deal with the way we present ourselves online and in social media, and how do individuals brand themselves in what is a widening corporate culture?

The idea that everybody thinks they’re specialists with voices that deserve to be heard has actually made everyone’s voice less meaningful. All we’re doing is setting ourselves up to be sold to — to be branded, targeted and data-mined. But this is the logical endgame of the democratization of culture and the dreaded cult of inclusivity, which insists that all of us must exist under the same umbrella of corporate regulation — a mandate that dictates how we should express ourselves and behave.

Most people of a certain age probably noticed this when they joined their first corporation, Facebook, which has its own rules regarding expressions of opinion and sexuality. Facebook encouraged users to “like” things, and because it was a platform where many people branded themselves on the social Web for the first time, the impulse was to follow the Facebook dictum and present an idealized portrait of their lives — a nicer, friendlier, duller self. And it was this burgeoning of the likability cult and the dreaded notion of “relatability” that ultimately reduced everyone to a kind of neutered clockwork orange, enslaved to the corporate status quo. To be accepted we have to follow an upbeat morality code where everything must be liked and everybody’s voice respected, and any person who has a negative opinion — a dislike — will be shut out of the conversation. Anyone who resists such groupthink is ruthlessly shamed. Absurd doses of invective are hurled at the supposed troll to the point that the original “offense” often seems negligible by comparison.

[ click to continue reading at The New York Times ]

Posted on December 10, 2015 by Editor

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Dorothy Must Die NYT #3 Woo-hoo!

from The New York Times

DMDNYT3

[ click here to buy DOROTHY MUST DIE ]

Posted on December 5, 2015 by Editor

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Shaq Debuts LITTLE SHAQ

from The New Yorker

Big Shaq

by Jonathan Blitzer

Shaquille O’NealILLUSTRATION BY TOM BACHTELL

There are fifty-two million items in the New York Public Library, if you count the artifacts, like pieces of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s skull and the walking stick that Virginia Woolf carried to the river’s edge. The other day, Thomas Lannon, a curator, was riffling through the collection, trying to find some objects that might interest Shaquille O’Neal, who was coming to the library that night as part of the N.Y.P.L.’s conversation series to talk about his new children’s book, “Little Shaq.”

Lannon was stumped. He’d considered original Superman comics, but they’re stored off-site. “Shaquille O’Neal isn’t really a scholar,” Lannon said, as he wheeled two boxes into a makeshift greenroom. “But he does have a doctorate”—in education, and also a master’s in business. One of his many nicknames is the Big Aristotle.
When Paul Holdengräber, the library’s resident interviewer, started the series, the staff created a tradition: before each event, the curators pull objects geared to the speaker’s interests. George Clinton was shown correspondence between Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg about psychedelics and jazz. Werner Herzog looked at a register of executions at San Quentin, and Patti Smith got to hold the Woolf walking stick.

[ click to continue reading at The New Yorker ]

Posted on November 11, 2015 by Editor

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HOME IS BURNING by Dan Marshall

from The Guradian

Home Is Burning: the profanity-laced terminal illness memoir with fart jokes

Dan Marshall’s book about his father’s death – while his mother was stricken with cancer – is possibly the most scatalogical memoir of its kind ever, and now Hollywood has come knocking

The Marshall family on 22 September 2008, the day of Bob’s death. (Left to right): Dan, Michelle, Tiffany, Bob, Chelsea, Debi, Greg. Photograph: Gary Neuenschwander/Supplied

Dan Marshall sips an iced coffee under a Los Angeles sun and mulls the notion of Hollywood sanitising his memoir, the story of how he and his siblings dealt with terminally ill parents during an anguished year in the Mormon capital of Salt Lake City. Marshall shakes his head and gives a faint smile. “It’d tear the balls off the thing if they made it PG-13.”

It would indeed. Home Is Burning, published this month and due to be made into a film, dives deep into the pain and grief of caring for a father who slowly wastes away, and a mother who hovers close to death. It also plumbs the cacophonous dysfunction of a family stumbling through the ordeal with black humour, fart jokes, painkillers, booze, feuds, sex and swearing – epic, ungodly, obscene, unrepentant, relentless swearing.

“It’ll have to be R-rated,” says Marshall. “There’s a lot of death and dying but with South Park humour applied to normally difficult and sentimental situations. I’m making jokes about wiping my dad’s ass.”

The 300-page memoir jokes about everything: the cruelty of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, which killed Bob Marshall in 2008; the brutal side effects of Debi Marshall’s cancer treatment; the vicious sibling arguments; the pious Mormon neighbours.

One unforgettable section details Debi’s declaration that she will perform oral sex on her husband – by then confined to a bed and respirator – daily until he dies. “My mom was beyond proud of the blow-job-a-day goal. I don’t know if it was because she was all fucked up on Fentanly or what, but she seemed to bring it up any chance she got. ‘A blow job a day. Not a bad deal,’ I heard her explain to a visitor. ‘You wouldn’t think it, but his penis is still strong.’”

The Marshall clan is barging into a terminal illness genre rife with sentimentality – think The Fault in Our StarsBefore I DieTuesdays with Morrie – with a unique strain of profane, scatological humour. Prominent memoirists have endorsed Home Is Burning. James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces, called it hilarious and heartbreaking. Justin St Germain, author of Son of a Gun, deemed it self-aware and ruthlessly honest: “Dan Marshall might be a self-described spoiled white jerk, but he’s also a depraved comedic genius.” Publishers Weekly called him the literary love child of Dave Eggers and David Sedaris.

In person Marshall, 33, is softly spoken, almost shy. He mocks himself in the memoir as a dumpy, boozy, gummy bear-chomping screw-up. But the figure who settles into the corner of a restaurant terrace, seeking shade on a baking afternoon, is somewhat reformed. He has quit drinking, jogs and has, by his own measure, matured.

[ click to continue reading at The Guardian ]

Posted on October 31, 2015 by Editor

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ENDGAME Gold Won – Congratulations to Froylan Moreno del Rio!

from The Las Vegas Sun

Claiming Gold

By 

The first puzzle in the “Endgame: The Calling” high-stakes apocalyptic book trilogy brought to life by bestselling authors James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton was solved just 24 hours before today’s deadline.

To win “Endgame,” the winner had to solve an interactive puzzle comprised of clues leading to a real-life $500,000 cash prize. Froyal Moreno del Rio solved the puzzle and this afternoon unlocked the gold vault at Caesars Palace for the big payoff.

Book 2, “Sky Key: An Endgame” was published Tuesday. The New York Times bestselling authors were on hand at Caesars to autograph copies of both books. No word yet on the title of Book 3 or its publication date, but more puzzles and cash prizes await.

[ click to continue reading at the Las Vegas Sun ]

Posted on October 12, 2015 by Editor

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