Literature

137 articles
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Why I Write

An essay on motivation.

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Janet Malcolm: The Art of Nonfiction No. 4

“I think you are asking me, in the most tactful way possible, about my own ­aggression and malice. What can I do but plead guilty? I don’t know ­whether journalists are more aggressive and malicious than people in other professions. We are certainly not a ‘helping profession.’ If we help anyone, it is ourselves, to what our subjects don’t realize they are letting us take. I am hardly the first writer to have noticed the not-niceness of journalists. Tocqueville wrote about the despicableness of American journalists in Democracy in America. In Henry James’s satiric novel The Reverberator, a wonderful rascally journalist named George M. Flack appears. I am only one of many contributors to this critique. I am also not the only journalist contributor. Tom Wolfe and Joan Didion, for instance, have written on the subject. Of course, being aware of your rascality doesn’t excuse it.”

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A Modest Book Proposal From Pete Maynard, Author of M__y Dick

On literary mashups, double entendres, and questionable choices.

"Maybe you’ve heard of M__y Dick? I would bet you haven’t read it, and I bet I’d win that bet because I’d be leaving nothing up to chance. Here’s why: nobody has read M__y Dick. Scratch that. Nobody but me has read M__y Dick, because there’s only one copy in existence and it’s right here in my apartment, right here on this very desk I am writing to you from. That was the whole point. M__y Dick was just for me, for my own self-improvement. Of course, that didn’t stop them from talking about it, which was fine at first, and then it was not."

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Looking for Hemingway

On George Plimpton and the founders of The Paris Review:

Early in the fifties another young generation of American expatriates in Paris became twenty-six years old, but they were not Sad Young Men, nor were they Lost; they were the witty, irreverent sons of a conquering nation.

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Dogsbody Does Dublin

Four dispatches from the 100th anniversary of Bloomsday:

In most places in the world, June 16 is just another day on the calendar, but here in Dublin, the day that James Joyce earmarked for Ulysses is celebrated with a fervor not seen here since the days of the druids when, if you really wanted to party, you needed a couple skeins of wine and a grove full of virgins.

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What Is Poetry? And Does It Pay?

A trip to the Famous Poets Society convention/contest in Reno.

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When Books Could Change Your Life

On the power of youth literature.

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My 6,128 Favorite Books

“If you have read 6,000 books in your lifetime, or even 600, it’s probably because at some level you find “reality” a bit of a disappointment.”

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The Curious Case of the Sherlock Pilgrims

In the Swiss town of Meiringen, where an obsessed group of ‘pilgrims’ painstakingly recreate the death of Sherlock Holmes.

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Book Shopping with the Best-Read Man in America

Browsing the stacks with The Washington Post’s Michael Dirda.

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