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Literary Links

Censorship on the Rise Worldwide

A report from Publishers Weekly: “Since the start of the Covid pandemic, there’s been a rise in instances of government censorship of books around the world.”

3 Things to Know About the Ending of a Story

I see a lot of discussion in literature-related posts about fictional introductions, but not much about endings. Yes, I’m guilty of this myself. In her advice column for writers K.M. Weiland looks at the special properties of endings. (I usually find that posts like this, directed at writers, also help me as a reader.) Read why Weiland writes, “Somewhat counter-intuitively (or at least counter to lots of writing advice), the importance of an ending is not its ability to surprise us, but rather its ability to satisfy us.”

How to Enter a Flow State While Reading

Athletes, musicians, and writers sometimes talk about being “in the zone.” What they’re talking about is an alternate state of consciousness known as flow, and it’s something that readers occasionally experience as well. Here Emily Wenstrom explains what flow is and how you can aim for it when reading.

I’ve written about flow previously, here and here.

What’s Dark about Dark Academia

I had not heard the term dark academia, although I spent a number of years there. Ana Quiring explains that it’s a “cultural trend that reveals how Gen Z views higher education, especially in the humanities” and that it’s “massively popular.” She adds, “dark academia entangles queer literature, Oxbridge aesthtics, and experiences like coming out.”

And I was glad to read this: “To me, dark academia matters because it puts collapse and collaboration together. It’s clear sighted about the state of the humanities without, as in many other conversations, letting that clear sightedness morph into overwhelming despair.”

7 Thrillers About the Dark Side of Academia

Not long after I read Quiring’s article, I came across this piece by Ceillie Clark-Keane: “Campus novels are nostalgic. . . . But the most enjoyable campus novels, for me, balance this nostalgia with criticism of the system of higher education they’re portraying.”

If this area piques your interest, she’s got some reading suggestions for you.

How Extortion Scams and Review Bombing Trolls Turned Goodreads Into Many Authors’ Worst Nightmare

As a reader, I use Goodreads simply to track my reading and announce the books I’ve finished. I was peripherally aware that the Goodreads experience can be much rougher for writers, but I was surprised it can be quite this bad. Megan McCluskey reports for Time.

Finding Horror (and Art) in the Gray Areas of Identity

Virginia Feito, author of the recently published novel Mrs. March, writes that “throughout history horror books and films have loved to dissect, with morbid relish, the grey areas of identity; losing it, faking it, obsessing over it, or appropriating somebody else’s. These have become recurrent storylines within the genre, and are more disturbing, more real, than any supernatural monster.”

The Uncomfortable Rise of the Instagram Novel

Citing Sympathy, the 2017 novel by Olivia Judjic; Beth Morgan’s novel A Touch of Jen; and Matt Spicer’s film Ingrid Goes West, Jess Bergman writes, “these works serve as reminders that the line between online and off is eminently permeable.”

Bergman asks whether any of this really matters. “In the real world, the answer is unfortunately yes. . . . What’s harder to determine is whether it matters for the purposes of literature.”

The eeriness of the English countryside

Writers and artists have long been fascinated by the idea of an English eerie – ‘the skull beneath the skin of the countryside’. But for a new generation this has nothing to do with hokey supernaturalism – it’s a cultural and political response to contemporary crises and fears.

The History and Future of New Adult

As I’ve written before, my experience with literary history and criticism is decidedly old school. I was able to wrap my head around the notion of YA (young adult) literature, but then I discovered that there’s also NA, or new adult, literature that picks up where YA leaves off.

Sarah Nicolas, who was publicity director for Entangled’s New Adult imprint Embrace in 2013 and 2014, reports that in 2014 Publishers Weekly “called new adult ‘a full-on phenomenon.’” However, NA has not taken off the way YA literature did. She looks at the reasons why.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

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