Anna Sun profiles the work of Mo Yan, the latest winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. While Sun acknowledges Yan’s popularity and prolific output, she also notes that what the Nobel committee referred to as “hallucinatory prose” is more often than not “repetitive, predictable, coarse, and mostly devoid of aesthetic value.” Indeed, Sun writes, “the English translations of Mo Yan’s novels … are in fact superior to the original.” [Ed. Note: It appears the Kenyon Review link was briefly not working; this Google cache may work better -- h/t Dan Farrely]
A few months back there was some fuss about Penguin selling, for close to $8,000, the Complete Collection: More than 1000 of the Greatest Classics. Recently, used bookstore owner Jeff Sharman went through his inventory and found "a handful of forgotten Penguin Classics" - ones that didn't make the cut. He raises an interesting point that not all classics stand the test of time.
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I've got a great opportunity for any aspiring writers in Los Angeles. My good friend Edan Lepucki, an excellent writer and teacher (see her bio below) has decided to start her own fiction writing course. Edan and I met when we worked together at Book Soup in Los Angeles. While there we both led a book club, and her teaching chops were evident from the very start. Our book club members all became big Edan fans. Anyway, if you're interested, email Edan. This is definitely a worthwhile opportunity. Here are the details:Class Description and Information:This fiction writing course is open to anyone who adores, fears, and/or is challenged by the English language and narrative craft. Each week, we will meet at my apartment in Los Feliz to hone our skills as storytellers, discussing published work as well as the work of our peers. There will be in-class and out-of-class writing exercises, each one designed to tackle a different element of craft, including but not limited to: characterization, point of view, scene, setting, and voice. Light refreshments will be served.Thursdays, 7:30-9:30 pmSeptember 14th to October 26thMaximum enrollment: 9 studentsFee: $295 (plus the purchase of Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction, $18.00)--various payment plans available...Instructor Bio:Edan Lepucki is a recent graduate of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she won the Richard Yates Short Story Contest and taught classes in both literature and creative writing. Her work has been published by, or is forthcoming from, Meridian, Filthy, and West, the Los Angeles Times' Sunday magazine. Last summer she was a fiction fellow at the Vermont Studio Center. She likes Paris, dogs, and filling out forms.If interested, please email Edan at [email protected]
Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Atkinson stopped by yesterday to sign copies of An Army at Dawn. This book is intended to be the first installment of a trilogy that will describe the liberation of Europe in World War II. This first book is about the liberation of North Africa, and the next two will cover Italy and France. Naturally, I asked him how the books were coming along, and he told me that he had put them on hold while he was embedded with the 101st Airborne in Iraq, and now he is writing a book about that experience. It will be exciting to see the many quality books that are being written by journalists and writers who spent time over there. We also discussed John Keegan, who seems to be the authority when it comes to popular histories of war. Atkinson professed to loving both The Mask of Command, which studies generals and commanders in wars from Ancient Greece to the present, and The Face of Battle, which gives similar treatment to the common soldier. Later on, while I was reading about those two Keegan books, I was pleased to discover that he has a new book that is a mere two weeks from hitting the shelves. It is enticingly titled, Intelligence in Warfare: From Nelson to Hitler.