Lists

November 30, 2013

Before They Were Notable: 2013 0

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This year’s New York Times Notable Books of the Year list is out.

November 4, 2013

We the Narrators 14

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Why would anyone decide to write a novel in first-person plural, a point of view that, like second-person, is often accused of being nothing but an authorial gimmick? Here are a few novels that prove first-person plural is more of a neat trick than a cheap one.

October 30, 2013

Beyond Alice Munro: A Beginner’s Guide to Canadian Lit 24

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For Americans who have plowed through Munro’s Selected Stories and are looking for a broader taste of Canadian literature — or CanLit, as it is called here — I offer a partial and admittedly idiosyncratic “Beginner’s Guide to Canadian Literature.”

October 28, 2013

5 Series You Probably Missed as a Kid (But Should Read as an Adult) 48

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Each offers a thoroughly imagined world that’s immersive enough to make you feel like a kid again, with writing sharp and smart enough to satisfy a book-loving adult. 

October 24, 2013

The 10 Things I Learned From Gay Talese That Will Get Me a Job at The New York Times 5

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As a writer’s writer, Talese delivered these tips from a somewhat mythical place where pieces in magazines were paid for handsomely, weren’t due in one day, and were allowed to run at considerable lengths.

October 2, 2013

Popping the Question: A Survey of Literature’s Non-Traditional Marriage Proposals 3

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Some proposals are perhaps better forgotten. The following unromantic, bizarre, poorly delivered or conceived proposals elicit reactions less like Molly Bloom’s orgasmically affirmative “Yes I will yes I will yes!”.

September 20, 2013

Bubblegum Rewards: Ten Lessons Shared by Reality TV and Classic Literature 3

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Just when I’d pronounced myself lost to empty, mindless indulgence, I invented a game: matching reality programs with classic literature. After playing a few times on the couch (flat screen to my left, library shelf to my right), I’m now unable to watch reality shows without asking, “So, what book is this like?” Inevitably, I discover one lesson on how to live and another on how to write.

September 13, 2013

The Pleasure of Discursive Commentary: On the Paratext Novel and the Drunken Pornographer 5

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A friend once even showed me a porno with a commentary track. While the director offers her insights into the filming process, along with increasingly belligerent rants about her colleagues, she gets completely shit-faced. After about 30 minutes, she passes out, and for the rest of the movie, you can hear her snoring breezily in the background.

August 27, 2013

On The Pleasures and Solitudes of Quiet Books 24

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“Books are solitudes in which we meet,” Rebecca Solnit wrote. But before the meeting comes the solitude, the book as a private space that a reader steps into, and there are moments when escaping into a book is a bid for some measure of seclusion. If the solitude you crave at the moment is a quiet one, here’s a short reading list of quiet books that I’ve recently read and admired.

August 26, 2013

A Breaking Bad (and Beyond) Reading List 6

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The books on this list range from the personal to the mythological to the journalistic, and some intertwine all three. They all depict a world of stark contrasts. There is danger here.