“There was no stopping her now. She wrote like a woman possessed, scrawling on the back of old manuscripts and whatever she could find. She had a soft touch for dark themes, offering deception and adultery the same respect as the rest of the natural world they occupied. The only sin she couldn’t forgive her characters was cruelty.”—Post-40 Bloomer: Mary Wesley, That Sort of Girl by Lisa Peet
“There is something about Mary Wesley’s work that loves a blurb. ‘Jane Austen with sex’ is the one heard most, but you also find ‘arsenic without the old lace,’ ‘upper-middle-brow potboilers,’ and “posh smut.’”—Post-40 Bloomer: Mary Wesley, That Sort of Girl by Lisa Peet
“SH: Because I know I did love The Hills, like that was just — my mind blew open when I saw that for the first time. It just seemed so beautiful to me, actually.
EMK: Oh, it was a beautiful show. It was so beautiful.
SH: Yeah, especially the first season. I was just so confused. What is going on? Are these people real? Are they not? Who are they?”—My social media teammate Emily M. Keeler interviewed Sheila Heti, and she’s probably too humble to promote it on her own, so I’ll do it for her.
“After I got an MFA at the the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, I moved to New York City, and I must say, though both the insular little MFA world and the New York City world of literary culture come with their own and different forms of attendant bullshit, there is far, far — and I mean far — more bullshit in NYC.”—A Passion for Immortality: On the Missing Pulitzer and the Problem with Prizes by Benjamin Hale
“Where Fitzgerald casts feeling across the brow of novelistic self-consciousness, Wallace revels in oiling and refashioning the squeaky wheel of novel-ness, to arrive at what the enterprise represents at its core, the entire literary lineage. The lit marathon tempts a similarly immense question by bringing the reader out of seclusion. Of the way it wraps around us, exhausts our capacity to pay attention while also abiding our coming and goings — we can drop in, drop out, and when we get back, chances are good it will still be there — the poet Susan Terris, echoing Tillman, reflects, “I guess the singular joy of the marathon reading is being read aloud to, which most of us love — exactly in the same way we did when we were children.”—
“My boyfriend isn’t really my boyfriend; he and I aren’t quite living together. We came to a silent agreement where more often than not, I am around. My things are still at my house—four bedrooms, three baths—with my husband. I visit my things, my husband, often. I run my fingers over the modern statue near the front entrance, the dimple in my husband’s chin, the thick, ropy muscles of his shoulders, the mahogany mantle over the fireplace. I belong with these things, they are mine, so I do not stay long.”—Roxane Gay has a new story on Joyland Midwest. You should go read it.
“Among the brand-name French theorists of the mid-20th century, Roland Barthes was the fun one. (Foucault was the tough one, Derrida was the dreamy one, Lacan was the mysterious one — I like to imagine them sometimes as a black-turtlenecked, clove-smoking boy band called Hors de Texte, with the hit album “Discipline ’n’ Punish.”)”—Sam Anderson, opening his NYT Mag riff on Mythologies with quite possibly the greatest lede of all time.
“There exists a definite likeness with organized religion’s governing impulse in the reverence inherent to the marathon reading. In one sense, carrying on to an audience like a non-ordained minister is the height of Christian heresy (though, certainly, most fiction is less offensive than, say, your average goth rocker’s sacrilegious imagery); in another, a novel might be the brilliant lived sermon that found no root in organized religion as currently composited. Faith and doubt exist in dialectic, after all. It is difficult to believe the person who claims to know one while having no experience of the other.”—
I sound like a moron but the rest of the article is interesting. I like the idea of doing a Carver marathon, or another short story marathon, where each reader would read a different short story instead of segments of a novel. Who’s in?
As The Composites nears its 50th image I thought it was time to look at what was popular on the site statistically. Anyone can see what was the most shared composite on the archives page (It’s Humbert Humbert, if you were wondering) but I wanted to add a dimension of literary analysis and break the numbers down to crimes committed by characters when possible. Not all the composite characters on the site slot easily under the definition “criminal” —and, like literature itself, the defining elements of criminality can be culturally, politically, and temporally relative and biased—but I think the most compelling composites have a clear mark of criminality or transgression, which makes for a perfect meeting of two mediums: fiction and forensic art. Please feel free to offer any corrections. The statistical breakdown is after the jump and the chart above links to a larger image.
Thanks to all the fans and friends of this site and please keep the suggestions coming for the next 50.
“professionals are slightly more likely to review and approve of books written by writers who worked for the same titles as they, or books that had won prizes. Amazon reviewers, on the other hand, were rather more eclectic, and in particular seemed to be more supportive of debut authors.”—
-Lloyd Shepherd, “Amazon v newspaper: which is the more valuable review?.”
The Guardian Book Blog has already pointed out that Amazon reviewers and critics agree “in aggregate about the quality of a book.” This all begs the question: Will literary criticism soon go the way of the cloud? It’s hard to imagine sitting down with a cup of coffee on a sunday morning to read through a printed-out pile of Amazon reviews.
“Books speak better than humans sometimes. Why do we slyly inspect others’ reading choices when sitting on the bus, train, or waiting in an airport terminal? Checking out a stack of books on family disturbances or spousal negligence? ‘Nuff said. So we think.”—Librarian, Distressed by Kyle Winkler
“Richard Ford has earned his place in the pantheon of late-20th-century American novelists, and 15 years ago, one could plausibly argue he was among the best Americans writing, but his later work — that is, most of what he’s done since he won the Pulitzer Prize for Independence Day in 1996 — has seemed of a lesser quality.”—Across the Border: Richard Ford’sCanada by Michael Bourne