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by E. M. Forster
On a page of Charles Darwin’s The Voyage of the HMS Beagle Round the World, Mark Twain wrote: “Can any plausible excuse be furnished for the crime of creating the human race?”
In figuring out my own reading resolutions, I realized how much fun it is to hear about what others plan to read this year.
Twitter and Facebook are great for quick blasts of dopamine or adrenaline, but not for creating sustained waves of happiness or fear or maintaining the kind of cumulative tension upon which good stories rely.
I am writing this on a Friday, and I'm supposed to have a baby on Tuesday.
When I read Lampedusa the sun bursts up indeed, thawing all of that deeply seeded “puritanical horror,” and reconciling life forces that, as Lampedusa attempts to show us, were never meant to be opposed.
Just before Forster’s novel I read Austerlitz, a book whose construction around a portentous negative space has the effect of drawing neighboring books into its central darkness, like a dying star. Everything becomes tinged with this darkness.
We lost great talents from every precinct of the literary world last year. Here is a highly selective compendium of the how they lived, when they died, and the books they left behind
This year, as I embarked on a novel, I became a kind of kleptomaniac, with all of the ghosts and voices and ideas from the books I’d just read haunting my attempts to put words on the page.
TV Tropes has swollen into a frighteningly comprehensive taxonomy of all known plot devices across all known media. As a writer, I find it impossible to browse it without feeling: how will anyone ever come up with anything new?
Complete with phonies, small things that men love about women, and the mid-1800s equivalent of bathroom graffiti, Middlemarch is a book that I think Holden Caulfield would have grudgingly found acceptable.