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Club Read 2016

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1RidgewayGirl
Jan 5, 2016, 2:41pm Top

Just a list of the new titles due out in the first half of 2016.

http://www.themillions.com/2016/01/most-anticipated-the-great-2016-book-preview....

2Mr.Durick
Edited: Jan 6, 2016, 4:16pm Top

Does anybody here turn first to the Los Angeles Review of Books for literary intelligence?

http://chronicle.com/article/Empire-of-Letters/234714

I believe that there has also been a Boston review that used articles written by graduate students. I haven't pursued the on-line only reviews mentioned in this article although I recognized some of the names. The article didn't mention Book Forum which is readily available but about which I know little. I know the London Review of Books and just haven't been able to fit it in.

I turn all of the pages of The New York Review of Books and of The Time Literary Supplement.

Robert

3Mr.Durick
Jan 9, 2016, 5:21pm Top

I think that James Laughlin has influenced my reading even if I have read only a small number of his company's books.

http://www.neh.gov/humanities/2016/januaryfebruary/feature/the-man-who-made-amer...

Robert

4janeajones
Jan 9, 2016, 6:06pm Top

Great article on Laughlin and New Directions. Thanks.

5RidgewayGirl
Jan 11, 2016, 5:58am Top

Here is a list of David Bowie's must reads. The article is two years old, but it seems in keeping with today's sad news to post it here today.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/01/david-bowie-books-kerouac-milligan

6lilisin
Jan 11, 2016, 6:18am Top

>5 RidgewayGirl:
The Mishima really stands out to me on that list. Wonder why he chose it.

7Mr.Durick
Jan 12, 2016, 4:35pm Top

Does Northrop Frye rejuvenate, or has he rejuvenated, the role of the literary critic?

http://thesmartset.com/anatomy-of-wonder/

Robert

8RidgewayGirl
Jan 13, 2016, 1:50pm Top

The Morning News has announced the shortlist for the Tournament of Books.

http://www.themorningnews.org/article/the-2016-tournament-of-books-shortlist-and...

9FlorenceArt
Jan 13, 2016, 4:14pm Top

>7 Mr.Durick: Oh no, another one for the wishlist! Thank you for the great link. (And for once I managed to read it quick enough that I could still comment on it. Usually by the time I do, weeks have passed and the discussion has moved on.)

10janeajones
Jan 13, 2016, 9:10pm Top

Northrop Frye has always been my touchstone for literary criticism.

11Poquette
Jan 14, 2016, 12:41am Top

>7 Mr.Durick: >9 FlorenceArt: >10 janeajones: What a great article on Northrop Frye! I read The Bible Code some years ago, which goes a long way in informing one's understanding of the Bible in its various literary modes. This article makes me want to read The Anatomy of Criticism sooner rather than later.

12FlorenceArt
Edited: Jan 14, 2016, 2:20am Top

Suzanne, I think you mean The Great Code: The Bible and Literature?

ETA: and now I have another book in my wishlist...

14Poquette
Jan 14, 2016, 11:00am Top

>12 FlorenceArt: Florence, of course you are right. This is what happens when you don't check! The Bible Code is quite something else!

15dchaikin
Jan 14, 2016, 10:11pm Top

>11 Poquette: oooh. On my wishlist now too.

16Mr.Durick
Jan 15, 2016, 4:38pm Top

This article is probably a little long for casual reading and may not be conclusive enough to take away as advice. Still it seema rich in its intent and its exposure of intent. It is about how much room there is for the individual in moral philosophy and in doing moral philosophy.

http://thepointmag.com/2016/examined-life/add-your-own-egg

Robert

17janeajones
Jan 15, 2016, 5:42pm Top

13> thea -- thanks for the Ferrante article!

18FlorenceArt
Jan 16, 2016, 3:52am Top

>16 Mr.Durick: Aren't those the best ones? I loved the first paragraphs and have saved it for further reading.

19Poquette
Jan 16, 2016, 9:04pm Top

>16 Mr.Durick: Ditto to what Florence said. Saved to savor later.

20dukedom_enough
Jan 17, 2016, 8:48am Top

Here's an article that's a sort of ghost story, "A Brief History of Books That Do Not Exist". Author Samantha Hunt is fond of references to nonexistent books and authors, in her books and others' - the Borges/Calvino/Lem sort of imagined books. In Hunt's The Invention of Everything Else, she invented an imaginary author, "Wanda LaFontaine". Hunt later learned that real author Lucius Shepard also imagined a writer named "Wanda LaFontaine", unknown to her and published long before her novel. Apparently a truly independent invention, and both fake Wanda's write the same sort of trashy book.

Hunt later wrote to Shepard - to later learn that he had died just several weeks after her communication. A missed connection in real life, worthy of a ghost story. Shepard is a favourite of mine, which is why I'm fascinated by this story.

21RidgewayGirl
Jan 17, 2016, 11:06am Top

Brief Notes on the Art and Manner of Arranging One’s Books

http://monumenttotransformation.org/atlas-of-transformation/html/c/classificatio...

Disorder in a library is not serious in itself; it ranks with “Which drawer did I put my socks in?” We always think we shall know instinctively where we have put such and such a book. And even if we do not know, it will never be difficult to go rapidly along all the shelves.

22RidgewayGirl
Jan 17, 2016, 2:44pm Top

Book Riot is excited about using LibraryThing.

http://bookriot.com/2016/01/14/8-reasons-catalog-books/

23janeajones
Jan 19, 2016, 3:03pm Top

The translator of Clarice Lispector interviews the translator of Elena Ferrante -- great stuff: https://www.guernicamag.com/interviews/the-face-of-ferrante/

24Mr.Durick
Edited: Jan 19, 2016, 4:30pm Top

I wasn't going to post this because it is at its heart kind of sciency (or is that sciencey?). I thought it had enough to consider in it, though, that I went back to get it. Is beauty part of fundamental science? I know that chemistry laboratories can stink, but cosmological theorizing can be the search for what it ultimate and important.

http://nautil.us/issue/32/space/beauty-is-physics-secret-weapon

Robert

25LolaWalser
Jan 29, 2016, 11:52am Top

@elisa.saphier posted this article in the Feminist Theory group, I think it would interest some people here too:

Siri Hustvedt: KNAUSGAARD WRITES LIKE A WOMAN

26thorold
Jan 30, 2016, 2:35am Top

>25 LolaWalser:
Thanks! It seems incredible that such things still need to be said, but they obviously do.

27LolaWalser
Jan 30, 2016, 1:00pm Top

>26 thorold:

Glad you think so.

In the light of a recent conversation about Kundera (I brought up his complete omission of every mention of female authors--with the exception of Agatha Christie--from his book about the European novel, The art of the novel), I find this bit needs quoting:

To look another writer in the eye and soberly declare that she and every other woman on the planet who ever lived are “no competition” (with the possible exception of Julia Kristeva) is a striking comment at the least.

The game, then, according to Knausgaard, belongs to men, and it is here that the story becomes truly sad for both sexes it seems to me. In his lucid, mordant article, “Masculinity as Homophobia: Fear, Shame, and Silence in the Construction of Gender Identity,” Michael S. Kimmel writes, “men prove their manhood in the eyes of other men.” Male status, pride, and dignity revolve around what other men think. Women don’t count. Kimmel quotes David Mamet, a writer who has depicted all-male worlds more than once: “Women have, in men’s minds, such a low place on the social ladder of this country that it’s useless to define yourself in terms of a woman.” From this blinkered perspective, men ignore or suppress all women because the idea that they might be rivals in terms of human achievement is unthinkable. Facing off with a woman, any woman, is necessarily emasculating.


(Please note that by no means do I wish to imply that Kundera is in any way special in this regard--indeed, I'm hard put to think of any male author of his generation, provenance, mental habitus etc. who doesn't display this in some way.)

28kidzdoc
Jan 30, 2016, 2:07pm Top

>25 LolaWalser: Fabulous article; thanks for posting that.

Roberto Bolaño's epic novel 2666 will be adapted to the stage, in a five hour play that will be shown at Chicago's Goodman Theater next month. I liked the book, but I don't think I want to relive it over five hours.

Robert Bolaño’s Epic 2666 Is Now a Five-Hour Play

29reva8
Jan 31, 2016, 6:37pm Top

>27 LolaWalser: This is very interesting, thank you. I've been trying to articulate what I disliked about Kundera to a friend, now I have a way of expressing it.

30reva8
Jan 31, 2016, 7:24pm Top

I've been catching up on my reading, here are a couple of articles:

David Lipsky reviews Nabokov's Letters to Vera, one of my favourite books from last year. He's not digging deep, but this is a sympathetic view.
https://harpers.org/archive/2016/02/family-business/

I usually intensely dislike Brain Pickings' way of cherrypicking buzzwords from good writing and turning into consumption bytes for attention-deficit millenials, but these excerpts from Iris Murdoch's letters to her sometimes-lover Brigid Brophy are lovely and made me want to buy the book. Just ignore all the comments about how "beautiful" and "electrifying" they are.
https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/01/26/iris-murdoch-love-letters-brigid-brophy...

Bidoun, a magazine about art and culture from the Middle East, has put a large amount of content online for free for its 10th anniversary. Here's some ripe pickings:
Christopher Hitchens reflects on Edward Said http://bidoun.org/articles/the-stupidest-word
Nadja Korinth on Gadalla Gubara and Sudanese cinema http://bidoun.org/articles/the-omega-man
Orhan Pamuk on his 'objectomania' http://bidoun.org/collections/objects

31ELiz_M
Jan 31, 2016, 10:00pm Top

Most of probably have heard of (perhaps even experienced) schadenfreude, but do you also suffer from litost? Are you friolero/a?

http://www.thebookoflife.org/untranslatable-words/

32lilisin
Jan 31, 2016, 10:21pm Top

>28 kidzdoc:

A five hour play!
The thought of that tired me out so much that I didn't even make it past the title of the article.

33LolaWalser
Jan 31, 2016, 11:57pm Top

>28 kidzdoc:, >29 reva8:

You're welcome.

The site in general seems well worth visiting.

34FlorenceArt
Edited: Feb 5, 2016, 8:27am Top

Reimagining Journalism: The Story of the One Percent
How to Cover the One Percent

I only read the second one, and discovered at the end that it's the second part of a two-article series. I have saved the first part to read later.

35janemarieprice
Feb 15, 2016, 5:56pm Top

Interesting profile of editor Chris Jackson and the building of his list which includes Ta-Nehisi Coates, Victor LaValle, Eddie Huang, etc.

37LolaWalser
Feb 23, 2016, 12:19pm Top

>36 janeajones:

“If I have to choose between the United States government and Mississippi, then I’ll choose Mississippi… But if it came to fighting I’d fight for Mississippi and against the United States even if it meant going out into the street and shooting Negroes.”

Faulkner expressed exactly the same sentiment (and in almost identical words, including "shooting", "in the streets") in his letters, so there's no question that he was misquoted in the interview. Nor is that the only racist statement he made, in the letters I've read. (Selected letters of William Faulkner)

As for Lee, it still amazes me that so many ignore the absence of black Americans among the fans of To kill a mockingbird. It's a tale about racism that white people, and preponderantly white people, utterly LOVE--isn't that at least a little suspicious, a little suggestive that something is going on too comfy and flattering to be truthful?

I've seen lots of criticism about the release of this first version of Lee's novel--but has any come from black people? Has anyone noticed one black person going "oh no, my hero Atticus Finch, what's been done to him..."

Which brings me to the oddity of the whole idea that something can be a great national classic along completely segregated racial lines. Applause on one side--chill silence on the other.

39thorold
Mar 15, 2016, 5:19am Top

>38 RidgewayGirl: ...and Peter Maxwell Davies. I never thought of either of them as being as old as they were: time creeps up on you when you're not looking.

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/mar/14/sir-peter-maxwell-davies-obituary
http://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/mar/14/peter-maxwell-davies-british-compos...

40dukedom_enough
Mar 15, 2016, 8:37am Top

>39 thorold: ...and even when you are looking.

41Nickelini
Mar 15, 2016, 12:07pm Top

>38 RidgewayGirl: I didn't realize that she was 52 when her fist book was published. There is hope for me yet.

42thorold
Mar 15, 2016, 12:28pm Top

>44 Why stop there? Mary Wesley and Henri-Pierre Roché were both in their seventies when they started to make a name for themselves. Always worth remembering when someone says "if you were Mozart you'd be dead "...

43deebee1
Mar 17, 2016, 5:29pm Top

For those of us who highly regard Koestler's best known work Darkness at Noon, here's exciting news...

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/04/07/a-different-darkness-at-noon/

45janeajones
Mar 19, 2016, 12:32pm Top

46LolaWalser
Mar 19, 2016, 12:39pm Top

>45 janeajones:

Thanks, Jane, stealing that for another group!

47janeajones
Mar 19, 2016, 3:02pm Top

46> be my guest, Lola. You're welcome.

48FlorenceArt
Mar 19, 2016, 4:30pm Top

>45 janeajones: That's just so depressing.

49thorold
Mar 20, 2016, 3:14am Top

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/mar/20/jackie-kay-scotland-poet-new-makar?...

Profile of Jackie Kay, who succeeds Liz Lochead and Edwin Morgan as Scotland's National Poet.

50thorold
Mar 20, 2016, 9:18am Top

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/mar/20/barry-hines-obituary-a-kestrel-for-...

Obituary for Barry Hines, author of A kestrel for a knave, the book Ken Loach's film Kes was based on, inescapable in British schools for many years.

51RidgewayGirl
Edited: Mar 24, 2016, 5:44am Top

A charity shop in the UK received so many copies of Fifty Shades of Grey that they built a fort.



http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/oxfam-shop-begs-peopl...

52rebeccanyc
Mar 24, 2016, 9:45am Top

>51 RidgewayGirl: Very funny! And creative.

53lilisin
Mar 24, 2016, 9:55am Top

>51 RidgewayGirl:

That was quite the laugh. Funny!

54Mr.Durick
Mar 26, 2016, 5:05pm Top

55NanaCC
Mar 26, 2016, 5:24pm Top

>51 RidgewayGirl: Thanks for the laugh, Kay!

56lilisin
Mar 28, 2016, 8:17am Top

Could this be the most hated man on LT?

A book-related confession on the PostSecret website.

http://postsecret.com/2016/03/26/classic-secrets-117/zelda/#main

57RidgewayGirl
Mar 28, 2016, 9:27am Top

>56 lilisin: That is really, really bad.

58rebeccanyc
Mar 28, 2016, 12:47pm Top

60rebeccanyc
Apr 1, 2016, 11:31am Top

61lilisin
Apr 6, 2016, 12:24am Top

Not as thorough an article as I hoped after reading the title, but an interesting (brief) look at the translating methods of 6 famous translators.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/6-esteemed-literary-translators-in-their-own-words-1...

62AlisonY
Apr 6, 2016, 5:43am Top

For the reader who has everything - tiny book charms. Cute, huh?

63LolaWalser
Apr 9, 2016, 10:03am Top

Did you know the male-centric "sex novel" had been dead? I didn't. But, anyway, good news, it's back.

John Colapinto Revives the Male-Centric Literary Sex Novel

Mr. Colapinto said he had read the Wallace essay and largely agrees with it. But on the subject of the sex-drenched novels of Updike, Roth and the other bards of the male libido, he said, “I couldn’t deny that I had a lot of fun reading those books when I was younger.” In his view, there was an overcorrection.

“Men — at least the men I knew — were still driven by all manner of unruly sexual impulse, however guiltily,” he said. “So I decided to address that in as confrontational a way as possible.”


Also, I never thought the problem with the "bards" of male libido was all the sex and "unruly" impulses, but rather the tendency to objectify women into non-persons, the inability--or unwillingness--to respect the woman's humanity, libido, and unruly impulses. Which makes reading these things, for a woman, like reading about fucking goats. The goatfucker is having his fun; the goat, maybe not so much.

64alphaorder
Apr 11, 2016, 8:11am Top

65Nickelini
Apr 11, 2016, 11:48am Top

>64 alphaorder: Those articles are always fun. Thanks.

66thorold
Apr 13, 2016, 12:49am Top

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/07/violette-leduc-the-great-french-fem...

The chronically overlooked French feminist writer Violette Leduc. Someone I have had on the virtual TBR list for at least 20 years, since seeing the film version of Thérèse and Isabelle, but never actually got around to...

67alphaorder
Apr 14, 2016, 8:24am Top

21 Books You've Never Heard of. Championed by 21 writers you have.

Happy to see Emma Straub pick one of my favorite reads, Stoner.

http://www.gq.com/story/21-brilliant-books-youve-never-heard-of

68thorold
Apr 14, 2016, 9:12am Top

>67 alphaorder: 21 Books You've Never Heard of. Championed by 21 writers you have.

Not true. I've heard of about a third of the nominated books (and actually read three of them), but I've no idea who most of the nominating writers are (heard of five, of whom I've read two). Obviously I don't fall in the GQ demographic.
(But I knew that already: my one and only wristwatch cost under €30 and the suit I had made ten years ago is still serving me very well...)

69.Monkey.
Apr 14, 2016, 10:01am Top

I know of 5? of those recommending, and about the same of those recommended.

70rebeccanyc
Apr 14, 2016, 10:19am Top

I know 10 of the books and 8 of the recommenders.

71ursula
Edited: Apr 14, 2016, 10:22am Top

I'm familiar with 4 of the books (I've read 2), 12 of the recommenders (read books by 4 of them). Hm. Interesting list, though.

72lilisin
Apr 14, 2016, 9:00pm Top

>67 alphaorder:

Interesting list of books. Not sure why this turned into a competition of who knows what but I was surprised at the selection. I found myself recognizing the majority of the recommenders but not knowing the actual recommendations other than The Box Man which is one of my favorite books but rarely recommended in these lists. So, an interesting find.

73thorold
Apr 15, 2016, 10:37am Top

>72 lilisin: Sorry, didn't mean to start a contest. I was being facetious about the GQ sub-editor's glib but rather silly headline, really. The actual recommendations are interesting, whether or not they are really obscure. Curious that two people independently suggest Jean Rhys's "other" books: I'd never thought of exploring those, but I can't think why not. The motion of light in water is one that I have made a note of and not followed up several times already, but in that particular case the recommendation isn't very encouraging: would you take reading advice from an author who uses the expression "tectonic delirium"?

74ursula
Apr 15, 2016, 10:55am Top

>73 thorold: I didn't see it as a contest, just an informal survey on whether or not the headline had any merit.

75.Monkey.
Apr 15, 2016, 2:36pm Top

>74 ursula: Agreed.

76dukedom_enough
Apr 18, 2016, 9:45am Top

>73 thorold: I read the abridged, American version of The Motion of Light in Water; it was very fine. You don't really have to be a Delany fan to appreciate the book as a memoir. There's a fair amount on the young Marilyn Hacker - she and Delany were married for a while, and had a child together. W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman came to dinner once! Also, a lot of attention to the gay culture in NYC during those pre-Stonewall years.

I also recommend very highly Jack Womanck's Random Acts of Senseless Violence. The book has been getting attention lately because, as Gibson notes, it fits our current moment frighteningly well.

77Mr.Durick
Apr 19, 2016, 5:10pm Top

Is pretentiousness at the root of all success in art? Should it then be honored in everything? Is every elevated appreciation a pretense? I don't think this article answers those questions, but it provokes them — that's good, isn't it.

http://www.vulture.com/2016/03/defense-of-pretentiousness.html

Robert

78Mr.Durick
Apr 19, 2016, 5:29pm Top

I think that this article tries to dish out more blame than there is in the pot. Still though scientism gets nowhere near as silly as the anti-science crowd, it can get silly enough to confound real thought. And there is real danger of error in the substance of scientific research.

http://www.firstthings.com/article/2016/05/scientific-regress

Robert

79thorold
Edited: Apr 20, 2016, 7:30am Top

>77 Mr.Durick: >78 Mr.Durick:
Did you notice how much both those articles are focussed on how the author perceives the world based on where he lives? If you live in Silicon Valley you feel that there is an overwhelming "cult of science"; if you live in Brooklyn everything revolves around pretentiousness. All that stuff about the internet making geography irrelevant is clearly nonsense...

80janeajones
Apr 20, 2016, 11:45am Top

Another one on Elena Ferrante's anonymity:

http://www.mtv.com/news/2869856/you-want-a-piece-of-me/

81LolaWalser
Apr 20, 2016, 11:56am Top

>80 janeajones:

Excellent article! Thanks so much.

82Mr.Durick
Apr 20, 2016, 4:57pm Top

>79 thorold: It hadn't occurred to me. I think that, of course, one's environment focuses one's attention; I favor residential colleges over commuter colleges for that reason. I read your response before I got out of bed and stayed there thinking about it, but I couldn't make progress.

Part of that was I got tripped up by the question of pretense among scientists.

Robert

83Mr.Durick
Apr 29, 2016, 5:19pm Top

‘The state can pursue no safer course than to regard piety and religion as consisting solely in the exercise of charity and just dealing, and that the right of the sovereign, both in religious and secular spheres, should be restricted to men’s actions, with everyone being allowed to think what he will and to say what he thinks’.

Steven Nadler on why Benedict de Spinoza still matters, or should his interdiction be lifted?

https://aeon.co/essays/at-a-time-of-zealotry-spinoza-matters-more-than-ever

Robert

84thorold
May 2, 2016, 3:19am Top

>83 Mr.Durick: Thanks for that: by coincidence this morning I just came across a big plug for Jonathan Israel's Spinoza-not-Voltaire book Radical enlightenment in Tim Blanning's The Pursuit of glory. I should find out more about Spinoza, evidently. The trouble is, if you ask for him in a bookshop you're liable to come out with Spindrift instead...

85deebee1
May 2, 2016, 7:24am Top

>83 Mr.Durick: Thanks for sharing this, Robert. Interesting article, and plenty of good stuff on that website. For practical purposes, who cares really whether or not the interdiction is lifted? Time has proven it worthless. It has not prevented his ideas from spreading and influencing modern thought.

86janeajones
May 4, 2016, 12:42pm Top

87LolaWalser
May 4, 2016, 1:04pm Top

She sounds about twelve.

88AlisonY
May 8, 2016, 5:13pm Top

Anyone tried this site? - http://www.whatshouldireadnext.com/

89RidgewayGirl
May 9, 2016, 5:20am Top

>88 AlisonY: Interesting! I'm not short of ideas of what to read next, however.

91fuzzy_patters
May 9, 2016, 12:57pm Top

>88 AlisonY:: It looks fun to play around with at least.

92LolaWalser
May 9, 2016, 2:38pm Top

>90 detailmuse:

Great article. I loved Kondo's book although I'll never apply her method. It actually justified my love for things. And when it comes to books, I'm the ship embracing the iceberg of 8000 unread books as it sinks under. :)

93RidgewayGirl
May 25, 2016, 6:52am Top

http://lithub.com/an-open-letter-to-the-american-people/

I know we generally avoid the subject of politics, but this is a letter written by several authors including Junot Díaz, Geraldine Brooks, Rita Dove, Tobias Wolff, Francine Prose and Jonathan Lethem.

94LolaWalser
May 25, 2016, 11:34am Top

I know we generally avoid the subject of politics,

*shocked* In this group, really? Since when?

LitHub apparently has a base of commenting knuckledraggers or somebody orchestrated an invasion.

95Nickelini
May 27, 2016, 10:14am Top

96NanaCC
May 27, 2016, 8:31pm Top

>95 Nickelini: those covers are seriously warped.

97VivienneR
May 28, 2016, 3:04am Top

>95 Nickelini: Priceless! I've always enjoyed your comments about covers too!

98FlorenceArt
Edited: May 28, 2016, 10:11am Top

>95 Nickelini: Fun! Some of them are more misleading than others, but... Pride and Prejudice?!?!

99Nickelini
May 31, 2016, 12:05am Top

This is lovely, but maybe it's my mood. A sister clearing out the bookshelf of her sister who died at age 39: https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/05/27/how-i-mourned-my-sis...

100alphaorder
May 31, 2016, 8:50am Top

As a former bookseller, I enjoyed this essay by Kate Whouley. I think any booklover will enjoy it:
http://www.yankeemagazine.com/article/features/vincent-and-his-lady/2

101thorold
Jun 2, 2016, 12:32am Top

Hermione Lee on Stevie Smith in the NYRB: https://t.co/fhNMtSQZQI

102RidgewayGirl
Edited: Jun 2, 2016, 2:02am Top

Here's an interview in Publishers Weekly with Claire Messed.

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/interviews/article/56848-an-...

The interviewer asks, I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you? Her outlook is almost unbearably grim.

And Messud responds brilliantly.

For heaven’s sake, what kind of question is that? Would you want to be friends with Humbert Humbert? Would you want to be friends with Mickey Sabbath? Saleem Sinai? Hamlet? Krapp? Oedipus? Oscar Wao? Antigone? Raskolnikov? Any of the characters in The Corrections? Any of the characters in Infinite Jest? Any of the characters in anything Pynchon has ever written? Or Martin Amis? Or Orhan Pamuk? Or Alice Munro, for that matter? If you’re reading to find friends, you’re in deep trouble. We read to find life, in all its possibilities. The relevant question isn’t “is this a potential friend for me?” but “is this character alive?”

Do female characters need to be likable? And why don't we ask this (silly) question when male authors are interviewed about their novels which feature complex, real and unsympathetic characters?

103Nickelini
Jun 2, 2016, 2:16am Top

>102 RidgewayGirl: That's a fabulous answer that really shows what a silly question it is. Good for her.

104thorold
Jun 2, 2016, 4:02am Top

>102 RidgewayGirl: Nice! But Messud is being a bit disingenuous too: notice how she mentions lots of male writers, but no women who might undermine the idea that she's doing something daring and original by writing about an angry woman - why mention Thomas Bernhard and not Elfriede Jelinek, for instance?

105RidgewayGirl
Jun 2, 2016, 4:07am Top

She does mention Alice Munro.

106thorold
Jun 2, 2016, 5:21am Top

>105 RidgewayGirl:
True! For "no" read "almost no"...

107FlorenceArt
Jun 2, 2016, 1:46pm Top

Sounds like she may have wanted to hint that this kind of question wouldn't come up in an interview with a male author.

108.Monkey.
Jun 2, 2016, 2:04pm Top

Indeed, I would see her answer as Look at all these men, are you asking that of their characters??

109detailmuse
Jun 2, 2016, 3:43pm Top

As Amazon’s importance as a bookseller has grown, publishers are pushing their designers for brighter, bolder covers that pop for online shoppers. That has led to a spate of brightly colored book jackets, with blaring yellow covers now appearing in profusion.

ugh. I'm noticing more clothing of this color too, wonder if because people are watching tv/video on small screens?

http://www.wsj.com/articles/cover-story-its-all-about-yellow-1464107830

110Mr.Durick
Jun 2, 2016, 6:51pm Top

I wish that I could read Spinoza, but I cannot, so I read about him. Here is an article on his Jewishness and whether his ban should be lifted.

https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/ban-spinoza-lifted/

Robert

111thorold
Edited: Jun 3, 2016, 5:33am Top

>109 detailmuse:
Yellow crime novels: definitely a worrying new trend. At least it would be if we were living in 1928...

   

Didn't the WSJ ever wonder why the word for a crime novel in Italian is "Giallo"?

112alphaorder
Jun 3, 2016, 7:22am Top

Enjoyed the insights in this piece:

Secrets of the book designer: sometimes I don’t read the whole book (and that’s OK). | Literary Hub
http://lithub.com/secrets-of-the-book-designer-sometimes-i-dont-read-the-whole-b...

113thorold
Jun 3, 2016, 12:30pm Top

PBS to shut down because of cuts. (No, not the American broadcaster: the Poetry Book Society, founded by TS Eliot. Much more important.)
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jun/03/cuts-hit-poetry-book-society-to-cl...

114Nickelini
Jun 3, 2016, 3:24pm Top

I'm really not liking the acid yellow covers.

115detailmuse
Jun 3, 2016, 5:34pm Top

>111 thorold: "Giallo," interesting!

>114 Nickelini: I hate them en masse. But I look at my LT collections in cover view and see lots and lots of yellow covers, none of which I particularly noticed and some of which I like.

116wandering_star
Jun 4, 2016, 7:24am Top

>111 thorold: I just bought several books with these covers at a library book sale! I love the vintage/uniform look they have, actually.

117Mr.Durick
Jun 7, 2016, 5:22pm Top

I am convinced that there is a group called The Great English Vowel Shift, but I cannot find it. I would have posted this link there. It has plenty of general interest though, so I think it is not inappropriate to post it here.

When and a little bit of how the world turned to American English as the standard:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/06/the-year-american-speec...

Robert

119Mr.Durick
Jun 7, 2016, 5:46pm Top

Thank you. I scanned the list of groups I am a member of or watch and must have missed it although I knew that I could make a mistake like that.

I'll go put it there.

Robert

120dukedom_enough
Jun 7, 2016, 5:49pm Top

>119 Mr.Durick: you're welcome.

121Nickelini
Jun 10, 2016, 11:10am Top

How to pick a good summer read: http://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/pick-good-summer-read?mbid=social_fa...

I like a summer read to be only as complex as a white cashmere sweater with a whiskey stain on it:

How did that stain get there?

Will that stain come out?

Does the character have a drinking problem?

If yes, that drinking problem should not create great disruption to the narrative flow. An upsetting wedding toast is great. A car crash followed by death belongs nowhere in a summer read, unless, of course, it happened in the distant past to someone close to our cashmere-wearing friend.

122RidgewayGirl
Edited: Jun 11, 2016, 4:10am Top

>121 Nickelini: So the author of this article and I would not agree on a single book, but the important thing is that they think a book is a necessary addition to a good vacation.

When we had a big family vacation at the beach a few years ago, my Sister-in-Law and I were happy to visit any bookstore we could find. She'd load up on Nicholas Sparks novels and romantic books set in coastal towns and I'd choose differently (as Ballard says, ...rent-controlled apartments, Denny’s, highway underpasses...). We had a wonderful time together, even if she did roll her eyes a bit at my choices.

123Mr.Durick
Jun 11, 2016, 5:37pm Top

I have not found almost all recent poetry to be poetic, interesting, or good. This article starts in on it but misses the main point or points of my dislike, a failure of imagery and of prosody.

http://www.bookforum.com/inprint/023_02/16087

Robert

124lilisin
Jun 16, 2016, 10:46pm Top

Local man in Austin, Texas stealing from Little Free Library stands.

http://kxan.com/2016/06/16/austin-book-thief-targeting-little-free-libraries/

125Mr.Durick
Jun 24, 2016, 5:28pm Top

126Mr.Durick
Jun 24, 2016, 5:49pm Top

"What's the Matter with Poetry" from The New Republic:

https://newrepublic.com/article/134504/whats-matter-poetry

I think that we've also had a failure of quality, which isn't mentioned here.

Robert

127FlorenceArt
Edited: Jun 25, 2016, 4:52am Top

>125 Mr.Durick: Wonderful article! I didn't know anything about Cynthia Ozick, and I still don't know after this whether I will like her books, but I certainly need to read one.

128RidgewayGirl
Jul 5, 2016, 2:39pm Top

There's been much discussion on LT about the covers for Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Quartet. Here's an article about the reasoning behind the design.

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/07/elena-ferrante-covers-b...

129Nickelini
Jul 5, 2016, 3:26pm Top

>128 RidgewayGirl: I read that this morning after it popped up on my FB feed thrice. Very interesting. Also interesting to me is that Australia seems to be the only country that has different covers. My brain can't get around the covers under discussion being on the Italian editions because they seem very not-Italian.

130Mr.Durick
Jul 5, 2016, 5:57pm Top

I think that this article concludes that a major in English should not be self-help, but I also think that it doesn't really explain why.

http://www.iasc-culture.org/THR/THR_article_2016_Summer_ReitterWellmon.php

Robert

131alphaorder
Jul 6, 2016, 8:21am Top

The Millions Most Anticipated Books of the Second Half of 2016. In case you don't have enough to read already.

http://www.themillions.com/2016/07/most-anticipated-the-great-second-half-2016-b...

132MsNick
Jul 6, 2016, 8:33am Top

>131 alphaorder: Oh, so many to covet...

133LolaWalser
Jul 6, 2016, 2:08pm Top

>128 RidgewayGirl:

IMO that article is self-contradicting bullshit.

"Male readers generally aren’t enticed by chick-lit covers, and many female readers are also turned off by them, with good reason."

If there's a "good reason" to be turned off by such covers--presumably because experience has taught us to expect dreck between them--then there's no point in defending them; generally, or, as they try to do here, on Ferrante's example (btw, it's not clear whether they are including ALL her Europa covers. I don't think the others are particularly bad, especially in comparison).

And I fail to see women "doing things" on those covers. They are just bland, bad photos, dead and static and utterly clichéd. We're supposed to accept them simply because they feature women? I say no. That's how you photograph mangoes and pandas, not people.

Now, if Ferrante really chose the covers herself (it's mentioned fleetingly and again in such a way as to be unclear which covers are meant), that certainly speaks to a satirical purpose (I speculated about this possibility actually), BUT, satire, like any humour, ultimately fails if it isn't even noticed. And the reason it isn't noticed isn't because people are exceptionally dim, but because we have been habituated so strongly to the association of a certain type of covers with a certain type of book.

That Ferrante's excellent books have covers worthy of the worst chick-lit tripe isn't somehow going to make chick-lit tripe better literature. It isn't going to mean there's a reason to start paying more attention to books with such covers.

I don't see that anyone has been well-served by such choices. The publisher is damn right to be worried, and I bet they both lost sales from presumptive audience and angered the misled readers who thought they were getting the sort of thing those covers signify.

134RidgewayGirl
Jul 6, 2016, 3:04pm Top

>133 LolaWalser: The article does bring up the idea that we are conditioned to find covers with domestic scenes and those typically found on women's fiction as lesser, just as women's fiction is regarded with distain. It's worthwhile to examine why that is. I didn't think the article was "bullshit" or I would not have posted the link. I'm sorry you were offended.

135LolaWalser
Jul 6, 2016, 3:10pm Top

>134 RidgewayGirl:

I'm sorry, I was actually very interested to read it! Thanks for linking it! :)

I'd argue "domestic scenes" aren't a problem as just bad styling, bad photography, general artistic badness.

136Mr.Durick
Jul 12, 2016, 5:35pm Top

There were long stretches in my life when almost all of my reading was in periodicals, not bad times those.

http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2016/07/helen-gurley-brown-terry-mcdonell-and-...

Robert

139janeajones
Jul 19, 2016, 4:53pm Top

Excellent article on a very complex individual.

140Mr.Durick
Jul 23, 2016, 6:52am Top

There is a verse commentary on or appreciation of Proust available now.

http://standpointmag.co.uk/node/6556/full

Robert

142AlisonY
Aug 4, 2016, 4:21am Top

143lilisin
Aug 4, 2016, 4:28am Top

>142 AlisonY:

Well with so many books to read before we die, I guess we really try to push as hard as we can to live those few extra years to fit in a few extra books.

144FlorenceArt
Aug 4, 2016, 7:42am Top

Tom Wolfe takes on linguistics: http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=26936

145alphaorder
Aug 19, 2016, 10:06am Top

Why Do Writers Love Birding So Much? http://lithub.com/why-do-writers-love-birding-so-much/

146kidzdoc
Aug 28, 2016, 10:37am Top

The Arts section of today's NYT includes an interesting article about Julian Barnes' latest book The Noise of Time, which is a short biographical novel about the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. Interestingly it was written by Richard Taruskin, a professor emeritus of music at UC Berkeley who specializes in Russian literature, and he calls Barnes to task for both naming Shostakovich outright, instead of assigning him a fictional name that would have been more creatively acceptable in writing the novel, and in injecting himself into the longstanding debate about the composer: was he a "blameless martyr, opposed to and victimized by the Soviet government" under Stalin, as Taruskin claims that Barnes proposes, or did he make "pragmatic compromises to survive and prosper", as Taruskin and others believe? Taruskin dissects and critiques the novel, mentions the "dubious sources" that Barnes used in writing it, and makes his own case for Shostakovich as a "politician" whose "collisons with power had taught him to play a complication game with exceeding, self-concealing skill" rather than a "passive, pathetic yet saintly figure buffeted by an obtuse, implacable force."

I was thinking of reading The Noise of Time before I left for London next month, but I'll certainly do so now.

Was Shostakovich a Martyr? Or Is That Just Fiction?

147VivienneR
Aug 29, 2016, 12:54pm Top

>146 kidzdoc: Excellent NYT article, thanks for sharing.

I'm waiting for my hold on The Noise of Time at the library. I thought it was odd that Barnes would use Shostakovich's name instead of a fictional name, even one that openly indicated the identity of the composer. The article included a meaningful quote from Tolstoy who said he wanted to tell the history of Russia's Napoleonic war (in War and Peace) but without the fictional element it would force him "to be governed by historical documents rather than the truth". By naming Shostakovich in a fictional work, it appears Barnes is trying to achieve both fiction and "truth".

148RidgewayGirl
Sep 8, 2016, 4:46pm Top

Here's an article about translating Tolstoy by Janet Malcolm. It's interesting even if you haven't read Anna Karenina, and talks about the different translators and how their work is viewed.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/06/23/socks-translating-anna-karenina/

And because the article appeared in The New York Review of Books, the letters to the editor about the article are also worth reading.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/09/29/on-translation-tolstoy/

149thorold
Sep 9, 2016, 5:51am Top

>148 RidgewayGirl: By chance I just came across that one yesterday - I was trying to make sense of the world of translated Russian texts and found that languagehat has a lot of interesting posts on Pevear & Volokhonsky vs. the rest (http://languagehat.com/?s=pevear), including one on the Malcolm article and various follow-up discussions (http://languagehat.com/janet-malcolm-vs-pv/)

150Nickelini
Sep 17, 2016, 2:45am Top

WP Kinsella, author of many things, most notably Shoeless Joe (which became the movie Field of Dreams), has died at age 81, under Canada's new assisted-dying law. He was everywhere in CanLit 20 years ago and then seemed to disappear into the mists.

http://www.cbc.ca/books/2016/09/wp-kinsella-has-died-at-the-age-of-81.html

151thorold
Oct 1, 2016, 1:37am Top

The Guardian on why so little translated fiction is published in the UK, apart from Ferrante and Knausgaard: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/sep/30/translated-book-sales-are-up-but-b...

152wandering_star
Oct 7, 2016, 9:14pm Top

20 (literary) questions to Hilary Mantel: which answer are you most surprised by?

http://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/public/with-hilary-mantel/

153RidgewayGirl
Oct 18, 2016, 9:09pm Top

http://bookriot.com/2016/10/17/mesmerizing-video-52000-books-shelved-two-minutes...

Here's a video of books being reshelved in the Rose Reading Room after renovation at the New York Public Library.

154doujingtong
Oct 18, 2016, 9:18pm Top

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155VivienneR
Nov 11, 2016, 12:30am Top

This is an article in The New Yorker by John Lanchester about Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/11/14/how-jack-reacher-was-built

It begins: "All fiction depends on what Samuel Taylor Coleridge called “the willing suspension of disbelief,” the reader’s decision to put the argumentative, quibbling part of his mind into neutral and go along for the narrative ride. The suspension is voluntary, though not necessarily conscious; it’s not as if you reach up and toggle a setting in your brain. Rather, as readers, we usually fight the story a little bit at the beginning, while we’re getting our ear in; then we submit, and are carried along by the flow, unless something happens to jolt us out of it. If something makes our disbelief become unsuspended—one implausibility too many, a series of narratorial bum notes—then the whole fiction comes crashing down."

156RidgewayGirl
Nov 11, 2016, 9:08pm Top

>155 VivienneR: That was fun!

157RidgewayGirl
Dec 10, 2016, 9:21am Top

For those of you interested in such things, the Morning News has revealed their long list (and it is a very long list) for the 2017 Tournament of Books. It's a wonderful and varied list of what's new and innovative and unusual.

http://www.themorningnews.org/article/the-year-in-fiction-2016

Group: Club Read 2016

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