Not to be a shill for Amazon, but for those who like to save money on books, you can get a fourth book free after buying three books under ten dollars. They’ve got lots of paperback classics that fit the bill.
Davy Rothbart has taken the Powell's blog by storm. He's putting together the next FOUND magazine book (a sequel to the first one), and he's taken to posting late at night, occasionally whilst drunk. He's discussed "found" stuff, Scrabble and writing to inmates as well as a number of other topics.
The sexy repartee of Darcy delivered straight to my ears? The transatlantic, resounding voice of Sylvia Plath reading her poetry? An entire playlist of Shakespeare’s sonnets is there to delight, along with biographies of classical composers and Anton Chekhov short stories.
Here are some book reviews and book related stories that have caught my eye in recent days. In the New York Times Charles McGrath reviews a forward-thinking anthology, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories. The review is tepid, but McGrath takes the opportunity to give us an interesting little summary of the state of the American short story. Also from the Times, Michiko Kakutani delivers a review of Arthur Phillips latest, The Egyptologist. She makes the book sound pretty exciting, but in the end quibbles that it is not sufficiently weighty. Despite her reservations, The Egyptologist seems worth a look. I would imagine that it's great airplane reading.
WHEREAS… It is a cliché of the creative writing workshop to discourage a writer’s use of cliché; and It is a cliché of the creative writing workshop to say that clichés are too familiar and therefore ineffective; and The first time we heard this cliché against clichés it was a revelation, but with each successive repetition the cliché against clichés became increasingly faded and opaque, i.e., clichéd: a comforting logical fabric (“I’ll say the thing about clichés!”) to throw over a gap where uncertainty lay; a stand-in for new and difficult thinking because you’d have to remember all the way back to the first time you heard this cliché against clichés to actually see, once again, that clichés are ineffective because they prevent you from seeing; but also an efficient shorthand, one soothing for its familiarity, and in its familiarity suggestive of rightness, and in its rightness suggestive of belonging: to the community of those who’ve been through writing workshops and so have been inducted into the Army Against Clichés, which is also an Army Against Genre Fiction and Commercial Fiction and Popular Nonfiction, all of which are what they are (beloved, commercially viable, popular) because they return dependably to clichés of storytelling invented and real; and which may itself be an Army Against the Teeming Masses, who buy mass-produced books for the soothingly familiar stories inside; and which is therefore an Army of Elitism, reproducing clichés of class; but which may also be an Army Against Itself; and WHEREAS… Every word of our language is a cliché, so familiar as to be efficiently, effortlessly understood; and We cling to these clichés (of language, of description, of workshop) for their ease and also for their familiarity, which suggests rightness, which suggests belonging; and Cliché, here, may refer to a bevy of workshop clichés, including: clichés of praise (this is effective, is working, is strong, great, fantastic, amazing, well done), which stand in for consideration of what these terms mean; clichés of condescension (this isn’t working, is ineffective, weak, less well-done), which cover over uncertainty about what these terms mean; clichés of response and suggestion (too heavy-handed, sentimental, familiar; more subtle, restrained, fresh), which assume there is a single aesthetic community to which we all belong; and other such meaningless pandering and avoidance of considerate thought, tics that are contagious because we reach for agreement because we reach for belonging because the truth that there is no rightness is so damn maddening; THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED… That we will use the cliché against clichés against itself, at once ratifying and refusing its meaning: abstaining, in our conversations about new writing, from using workshop shorthand, i.e., from not thinking; abstaining from agreeing with each other too much, i.e., from group-think; granting that, in the process, we will create new clichés; and trusting that we will question and thereby destabilize these clichés along the way. Image Credit: Flickr/Tom Newby Photography.
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It began as a way to pass the time at the Frankfurt Book Fair: find and log the strangest book titles of the year. And so the Diagram Prize For Oddest Title of the Year was born. Now, thirty years later, and indeed not to be outdone by the fine folks over at the Booker, we will soon have a Diagram of Diagrams.You can read about the history of the Diagram prize at Bookseller.com, see the list of past Diagram prize winners and vote for the Diagram of Diagrams.My personal favorites: 1982's Population and Other Problems, 1986's Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality (with a sequel!), 2002's Living With Crazy Buttocks, and for those with a penchant for the macabre: 1995's Reusing Old Graves and 2005's People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It - (It's the What to Do About It part that I need to know).Sadly, there are no links to text excerpts for any of these titles. It is left to my fertile imagination, then, to envision how one actually lives with crazy buttocks (and just how crazy they need to be to require instruction).I'm sure there are countless odd titles out there that have been neglected. Feel free to comment with your favorite unsung odd title, or tell us your favorite odd title from the full list.