Portrait of the Artist
Shelf Awareness talks to The Magician King author Lev Grossman about his many creative influences including his obsession with C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles, his mother’s British heritage, the traditions of fantasy writing, and the midlife crisis that inspired his debut The Magicians.
Word & Film offers this tantalizing teaser for book-based T.V. shows currently being developed. Included are Salman Rushdie’s sci-fi series “Next People,” an adaptation of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, and HBO’s “Hobgoblin” from Michael Chabon and Aylet Waldman.
Writers who keep the popular series of deceased authors alive are the controversial subjects of this Salon article. Included are interviews with Jeffery Deaver on his update of Ian Fleming’s James Bond series and Eric Van Lustbader on continuing Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne books.
Butch Cassidy & the Mystery Memoir
The Huffington Post explores new evidence that the notorious outlaw’s 1934 biography was actually an autobiography. Thought to have been killed in a 1908 shootout, some rare books collectors now insist he survived the next 30 years to pen his life story as William T. Phillips.
The Newly Complicated Zora Neale Hurston
The discovery of three “lost” stories by the Harlem Renaissance author is detailed in this engrossing essay from the Chronicle of Higher Education. Differing dramatically from her better known works, the stories unearth an intriguing new side to the Southern folk writer.
A Bestiary of the Evolving Book
The influence of e-readers on the types of books that will be created in the future is detailed by Scholarly Kitchen. Starting with the “Classic E-book” on our Nooks and Kobos, this tech-savvy article explores “Enhanced Books,” “Muscular Books,” “Social Books,” and 140-character “Staccato Books.”
The Virginia Woolf You Never Knew
Flavorpill celebrates Virginia Woolf’s birthday with 59 little known facts about the extraordinary author including: 1) Her childhood nickname was “The Goat;” 2) She was a formidable bowler; 3) She and her husband owned a pet monkey named Mitz.
A Birthday Tradition Nevermore
A mysterious yearly ritual at the grave of Edgar Allan Poe seems to have come to an end. For 60 years, an unknown visitor would emerge from the shadows on Poe’s January 19th birthday to toast the macabre writer with three roses and a half bottle of cognac. Now, for the second year, the visitor has failed to appear.
The Case of the First Mystery Novelist
The NY Times solves the mystery of who wrote the first detective novel. Published in 1865, The Notting Hill Mystery received rave reviews from Victorian critics as it pioneered the popular new mystery genre. Until now, however, the author’s identity has never been known.
The Best Poetry of 2010
NPR’s picks for the top poetry volumes of last year are listed along with excerpts from each work. In a banner year for poetry, the annotated list includes Terrence Hayes’ National Book Award-winning Lighthead (pictured right) as well as new volumes by Charles Simic and Kathleen Graber.
You’ve Been Verbed
The recent grammatical phenomenon of turning nouns into verbs is explored at length by The Economist. Whether we’re friending, Googling, snowboarding, or texting, “verbing” is changing our language at hyperspeed. Ben Franklin would not be pleased.
Barack in Bronzeville
Author Rebecca Janowitz presents a compelling argument for locating the future Obama Presidential Library in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. Though Hawaii is already making it’s pitch, a Bronzeville site offers tremendous possibilities.
A Maecenas for the Internet Age
The Wall Street Journal celebrates the legacy of the late Denis Dutton, a writer, philosopher, and the creator of the popular website Arts & Letters Daily. Offering readers fresh daily links to the very best writing on books and culture, Dutton built ALD as an “elite meritocracy” that gave equal voice to quality journals of all sizes and perspectives.
‘Daddy, Read for Me’
Rikers Island inmates participating in the “Daddy and Me” literacy program are profiled in this NY Times feature. Organized by the NY Public Library, the program helps fathers connect with their children by reading and recording books like “Fox in Socks” and “The Little Engine That Could.”
How to Salvage a ‘Wrecked’ Novel
Author Michael Chabon discusses his abandoned novel Fountain City with The Atlantic. After 5 years and 1500 pages, Chabon “wrecked” the novel before going on to write Wonder Boys. Here he talks about his recent decision to publish four annotated chapters of Fountain City in McSweeney’s.
More Than A Mouthful
This NY Times essay explores the art of the extremely long sentence in novels such as James Joyce’s Ulysses and a host of more contemporary works. With an appreciative eye, the article celebrates the beauty in 36, 117, and 158-page long sentences in the era of 140-character Twitter posts.
Hail, Santa, King of the Elves!
Gift wrapped from McSweeney’s comes this clever collection of letters to Santa written by Shakespeare characters including Hamlet, Ophelia, Macbeth, and Falstaff. Who new Romeo and Juliet were such big Taylor Swift fans?
A Cult Writer’s Cult Writer
The life and works of reclusive True Grit author Charles Portis are examined in this fascinating NY Times feature. As the Coen brothers’ readapt his masterpiece for the screen, learn why the western writer might just be the most original talent overlooked by American literary culture.
Jeeves Was Framed
The origin of the mystery writing cliche “the butler did it” is traced by the Guardian to an obscure 1930’s English novel. Is it possible that Jeeves and his colleagues aren’t the bloodthirsty maniacs we’ve assumed them to be?
Christmas in Audio
Audiobook super-narrator Scott Brick tells the touching Christmas tale of how vaudeville comedy, vinyl 78’s, and his great-grandfather Jim inspired his chosen career path.