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The 14 Literary Newsletters You Need in Your Inbox

Ceillie Clark-Keane, a writer living in Boston, suggests 14 of her “favorite literary newsletters, the ones that I love seeing in my inbox as an excuse to sit for a minute and think about books, writing, and reading.”

Categories: Author News, Book Recommendations, Reading, Writing

The Case for Catharsis in Crime Fiction

Julie Mayhew describes the process of writing her novel Little Nothings to express her rage and grief over the death of her mother from COVID-19:

Following characters who are willing to do the terrible things that we would never dare to is another truly cathartic offering of the thriller. Within the boundaries of fiction readers can scratch dark itches, understand the perils of inhabiting their shadow selves, before returning to enviably quieter lives, safe in the knowledge that no one got hurt.

Categories: Reading, Writing

The deracination of literature

“We have fallen out of love with good writing”

Novelist Mary Gaitskill writes that most book reviews, whether “on Goodreads or the New York Times,” are “a description of the plot, what the characters are like, and what the (sometimes highly imaginative) reviewer thinks the writer is saying.” Those aspects of fiction are important, Gaitskill writes.

But there is something even more important that almost never gets talked about, because it’s almost impossible to talk about, and that is what I think of as the inner weave, the subtle life inside the apparent story. Here, the plot or the theme functions almost like a conduit; an ineffable content which can be compared to a person’s unconscious or the guts of the body; you don’t see the unconscious but you feel it, you may misunderstand it but you feel it.

Gaitskill attributes that elusive quality of “the inner weave” to another elusive quality, style:

An element of style that I especially care about is description of the world that the writer creates on the page. This currently undervalued technique can perform practical and useful functions, such as indirectly conveying a character’s emotions and locating the reader in a character’s world — where are they from, how much money do they have, what is their neighbourhood like? However, it can do more: it can give words to what is wordless and form to what is formless through creating pictures and images that irrationally make a connection to the deeper body of the story — the viscera or unconscious.

Categories: Literary Criticism, Reading, Writing

The 25 Most Significant New York City Novels From the Last 100 Years

“Four writers and one bookseller gathered over Zoom to make a list devoted to fiction in which the city is more than mere setting.”

What to say about New York? As both a place and an idea, it’s too big to be summed up or even fully known. But that hasn’t stopped countless writers from trying, often via fiction — which, like the city, lends itself to wandering. If anything, New York’s scale and complexity — the diversity of neighborhoods and industries and lives that coexist here — are what make it an inexhaustible and consistently compelling setting. There’s also the fact that it’s so closely associated with ambition, which, as any storyteller will confirm, tends to be a useful thing for a protagonist to have.

Categories: Literary Criticism, Literary History

6 Heartfelt Book Reviews by Authors You Know and Love

“We always love a good book blurb, but we have a special place in our hearts for a blurb from an author who includes insights into how a book impacted their own writing.”

Categories: Literary Criticism, Literary History, Reading, Writing

From aardvark to woke: inside the Oxford English Dictionary

“The OED’s task – to define every English word – is as ambitious as it was 150 years ago.”

“The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has served as a lexical record of the world’s most widely spoken language – and its culture – since it was founded in the mid-19th century,” writes Pippa Bailey.

Categories: Literary Criticism, Literary History, Reading, Writing

From the Archive: May 11, 1992

In May 1992, we [Publishers Weekly] profiled several feminist bookstores across the country. Many are still in business and are providing crucial info to customers in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent decision overturning Roe.

Category: Bookstores

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

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