Early on in her career, the poet Muriel Spark decided that Mary Shelley was criminally underrated as a writer. In bringing the Frankenstein author the fame she deserved, Spark wrote a biography, distanced Shelley from her famed poet husband and labeled her “the founder of science fiction.” (Related: our own Lydia Kiesling on Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.) (h/t Arts & Letters Daily)
At The Daily Beast, Newsweek reporter Barbie Latza Nadeau on Amanda Knox, the American university exchange student convicted of the murder of her roommate, an English exchange student, Meredith Kircher, by Italian criminal courts in December 2009. The murder took place in Perugia, Italy, where both girls were studying abroad. The case, with its suggestions of ritual sexual violence, and Knox’s bizarre behavior throughout the investigation and trial transfixed the Italian media. The excerpt at the Beast is from Nadeau’s new book Angel Face: The True Story of Student Killer Amanda Knox.
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The new year ushered in more than soon-to-be-broken resolutions. This January 1, a vast cache of works released in 1923 entered the public domain—including tens of thousands of books. Here’s how to download them for free, and here’s what all this means for publishers and readers alike. Happy hunting.
Middlesex author and Pulitzer Prize winner (and Year in Reading alum) Jeffrey Eugenides has a new story out in this week’s issue of The New Yorker. Titled “Find the Bad Guy,” it may well be the first New Yorker story to show a character playing Words with Friends. Sample quote: “She had her arms around me, and we were rocking, real soft-like, the way Meg did after we gave her that kitten, before it died, I mean, when it was just a warm and cuddly thing instead of like it had hoof and mouth, and went south on us.”
If you’re looking for some midweek longreads, here are two excellent profile pieces: Emily Nussbaum‘s unabashed enthusiasm for Lena Dunham as HBO’s Girls gears up for release, and Adam Sternbergh on Mark Leyner, whose The Sugar Frosted Nutsack is out today.
Is it possible you have a binge reading disorder? It might seem ridiculous, but there’s mounting evidence that the Internet, which allows us to read far more than we ever have, is creating a world in which we constantly read but retain very little. Nikkitha Bakshani takes a look at the evidence for The Morning News.
As if demonstrating exemplary literary skill weren’t enough, some overachieving authors were accomplished visual artists as well, notes AbeBooks in a roundup of talent that includes e e cummings, Günter Grass, Herman Hesse, and Jack Kerouac. Consider also our own Bill Morris on artists who channel writers in their own aesthetics.