In literature and film, there are epic heroes, Campbellian heroes, romantic heroes and tragic heroes. Less well-known is the Byronic hero, whose personality is rakish, extravagant and otherwise similar to Lord Byron. At the Ploughshares blog, a literary blueprint of the archetype. You could also read Jennifer Egan on Byron’s Don Juan.
Every year, like clockwork, a few brave administrators ban a classic book in time for the opprobrium of Banned Books Week. This year, the brave administrators in question work in Randolph County, NC, where Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison will no longer be on the curriculum. Why? Real quote: it’s a “hard read.” (Related: Kelsey McKinney on banning The Bluest Eye.)
Yesterday, our own Elizabeth Minkel pondered if Twitter fiction could be real art. She cited Teju Cole, a literary Twitter master, but what does he have to say about how Twitter affects his writing? “My memory is worse than it was a few years ago, but I hope that my ability to write a good sentence has improved,” he told The New York Times.
People like to think that the more books they read, the better people they’ll become. But is that really true? The answer’s unclear. But one thing does seem apparent: reading more books might make you better at bullying people.
Want to be published by Penguin? For $99 (£60), you can! As stated in this Guardian article, “Penguin USA will provide the service through its genre-fiction online community, Book Country, which launched in May offering wannabe authors the opportunity to post their work online and receive feedback.” The news comes on the heels of Amazon’s announcement that Amanda Hocking has become the second self-published author to tally 1,000,000 Kindle sales.
You may have heard that Pulitzer laureate Oscar Hijuelos passed away on Sunday at the age of 62. Hijuelos, who won the prize in 1990 for his novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, broke ground as the first Latino author to take home the prestigious award. On NPR, David Greene talks with Columbia professor Gustavo Perez Firmat about the author’s legacy. (Related: Thea Lim on people of color and American writing.)
Want a book blurb from Margaret Atwood? Expect a poem instead. Atwood has retired from the blurbing business and now declines in rhyming verse. “But now I am aging; my brain is all shrunk,/And my adjective store is depleted;/My hair’s getting stringy, I walk as though drunk;/ As a quotester I’m nigh-on defeated.” Pair with our essays on the blurbing blunder: a history of blurbs, blurbs as publicity stunts, and the fundamental question — to blurb or not to blurb?