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The following books don’t trivialize the highs and lows of adolescence. They capture for adult readers the immediacy of high school and coming of age.
At their most compelling, though, fictional works of art within fiction go far beyond the jokes. They work against solipsism and toward expansiveness, engagement. Their inclusion in narrative makes for fiction that is part of a larger, ongoing conversation about representation, identity, invention and self-invention – without getting all tripped up in it, announcing it, or apologizing for it.
Antiquarian booksellers are a breed of odd, voluble people who’d seem to make better extras in a film adaptation of Dickens’s The Old Curiosity Shop than as the catalysts of anything remotely dangerous. High-end mysteries are generally dominated by the visual arts, wherein the instant recognizability of a Rembrandt or a Brueghel heralds all sorts […]
Not being from L.A., and not being a hundred years old, I figured I’d better do some serious legwork before trying to write a novel of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s time in Hollywood. Along with the glossy photo essays and scratchy newsreels and high-flown histories of the studio system’s golden age, I combed through a survey of novels […]
I progressed, improbably, from preparing for a career as a professional violist to a position running a social justice foundation. Anyone who’s spent their formative years in music knows the training to be relentless and indelible. Ever since then, I’ve been on a quest for fiction that transmits classical music to the page. I crave […]
My novel Fat Man and Little Boy is a story about the atom bombs the United States dropped on Japan. It imagines that after they exploded, the bombs were reincarnated as brothers: a fat man, a little boy. The brothers travel from Japan to France and later to America, haunted by all that they have […]
At first brush it would seem books and sports do not belong with one another. The cliché has them sitting at separate tables in the lunchroom. Nerd v. Jock. And, in current culture, one is forever tightening its grip on our hearts, minds and money—this last Super Bowl, despite being basically over by halftime, was […]
American Indians make up only 1% of the United States population, but faux images of us abound in pop culture. From Pocahontas to Tonto to Dances With Wolves to the use of cartoon faces of Indians as mascots, inauthentic portraits of Native people fill the big and small screen, and were once common in books. […]
In March of last year, English-language readers were finally presented with Satantango, the first novel by Laszlo Krasznahorkai, the writer Susan Sontag once called “the contemporary Hungarian master of the apocalypse.” The novel, considered a masterpiece in the author’s native country since its original publication in 1985, adds to his work now available in English, […]
Freaks… are like a person in a fairy tail who stops you and demands that you answer a riddle.
The process of conversion has been a common topic for literary treatment ever since. What follows are some literary depictions of conversion, some of which are mentioned explicitly in my novel, others not, but books that a “literary convert” such as Sophie would likely have read along the way.
“It’s not as celebrated, the home front, with its Victory Gardens and rationing, its domestic ennui and abstract terrors, but there were women whose words cut as close to the bone as any by Ernest Hemingway or Siegfried Sassoon.”
“Oregon. There’s no place like it anywhere on earth. Its poets rise up straight from the black soil of rain forests, its rivers, its concrete and asphalt. They are building bridges. We are walking across to meet them.”
Few national literatures, however, have been as marked by a single author as Egypt’s literature has been marked by Naguib Mahfouz. A titan of international letters — and the only Egyptian author to be honored with the Nobel Prize — Mahfouz dominates most any discussion of Egyptian fiction in the 20th century.
“Fifty years from now, how will people have deeper access to the wonderful phenomena of mid-century American jazz, something behind the scenes, something more human than the hardcore iconography that develops when history is based on pinnacle moments?”
“Charles Darwin standing in the midst of a pastel mushroom forest with a faceless hermaphrodite was just what I needed.”
“These were stories told against the backdrop of something larger and more frightening. They were also bloody.”
“We are more than dying flies in a shithouse…”
“I measure a book’s impact by how it irrevocably changes an image or word or impression for me.”
“A truly erotic story must, finally, be tragic.”
“They are the bacon of internet digestion”