Monday Miscellany

Happy New Year! And welcome back.

Read ahead for 2013

Jane Sullivan of Australia’s The Age clues us in on books (fiction, nonfiction, and poetry) to be published this year.

Announcing the 2013 Tournament of Books

To add to your March madness:

The ToB is an annual springtime event here at the Morning News, where 16 of the year’s best works of fiction enter a March Madness-style battle royale. Today we’re announcing the judges and final books for the 2013 competition as well as the long list of books from which the contenders were selected.

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If you’re new to the tournament, here’s how it works: Each weekday in March, two works of fiction from 2012 go head to head, with one of our judges deciding—with elaborate explanation—to advance one title into the next bracket. At the end of the month, the winner of the tournament is blessed with the Rooster, our prize named after David Sedaris’s brother (because why not). Along the way, each judge reveals his or her biases and interests, any connections they have to the participating authors, and, most importantly, how they decided between the two books. Then our ToB Chairmen, authors Kevin Guilfoile and John Warner, weigh in with commentary, and finally leave it up to you, the readers, to add your own passionate thoughts and rebukes to the mix.

Famous Foils in Literature

“Foil” is a literary term to present a character in contrast with another with an aim to project it against a backdrop of opposite traits. The word “foil” was taken from the practice of displaying gems with a backing of foil to project their brilliance. Foil is a literary device to project a character by comparing it with another character similar in some essential traits but contrasting immensely in others. It is usually created to project the protagonist, the main character. The foil may or may not be a major character in a story, but it has something in common with the protagonist, and this diverts the attention of the reader or audience to the protagonist. A foil is like complementary colors which are located on the opposite sides of the color wheel, yet they need one another for their best to come out.

The Little House books as feminist classics

Nobody knows what feminism is any more, but it isn’t just about equal pay and abortion rights. It’s about appreciating femaleness for femaleness’s sake. Wilder was right wing, religious, practically silent as a writer until her 65th year. What pulls these books of hers, unwittingly or not, on to a feminist level derives from her innate rebelliousness, hinted at in the fictional Laura’s moments of indignation, sisterly rivalry and daredevil escapades. Wilder boldly took the American dream and 18th-century individualism to include herself, and wrote without apology about the daily lives of women and girls.

You may never look at these beloved books in quite the same way again.

Digital books leave a reader cold

Or they at least leave Kathleen Parker cold. And here’s her reason:

Paper, because it is real, provides an organic connection to our natural world: The tree from whence the paper came; the sun, water and soil that nourished the tree. By contrast, a digital device is alien, man-made, hard and cold to human flesh.

Are you convinced?

My 5 favorite health/medicine books of 2012

Dr. Suzanne Koven has recommendations for:

works of literature relating to health and medicine published in 2012. This genre is ever-growing, with new memoirs, literary nonfiction, and even novels and poetry collections added each year.

 The 10 Best Narrators in Literature

The first-person narrator descends from the ancient storyteller unspooling his tale around the fire for the delight and edification of his people. But on the page, two things transform him. One, we readers can ask “Who is this speaker? Why is he telling us this story, and what isn’t he telling us?” Two, he can go on as long as he wants. The first case invents the so-called Unreliable Narrator, the second gives rise to what I like to call the World Swallower.

Read Oppen Porter’s choices as the best examples of these two types of first-person narrator.