Last Week's Links

Literary Links

Magda Szabó and the Cost of Censorship

“The Hungarian writer’s fiction examines how silence—politically enforced or self-imposed—can warp and disfigure a life.”

Charlie Lee profiles Magda Szabó, whose life under Hungary’s repressive political regime “was an experience that seeded her fascination with the cost of silence in all its forms—politically enforced, self-imposed—as well as her other abiding fixations: the unspoken wounds of Hungarian history, the convulsions of reputation, the tension between a devotion to art and an attachment to other people.”

Categories: Author News, Literary Criticism, Literary History, Literature & Culture, Literature & Psychology, Writing

On Writing (and Rewriting) Illness

Elizabeth Benedict describes how she avoided writing just “another cancer memoir” and found the right voice to tell her story in Rewriting Illness: A View of My Own.

Categories: Author News, Memoir, Writing

Seattle libraries, transit branch into social work to take on mental health, drug use

The Seattle Times discusses how the Seattle Public Library system employs staff members called “social services librarians” who specialize in addressing issues of mental and behavioral health, homelessness, and drug addiction.

Category: Libraries

30 years ago, one decision altered the course of our connected world

If you’re reading this post (thanks!), you’ll be interested in this story from NPR (National Public Radio) about the birth of the World Wide Web.

Happy book blogging!

Categories: Literary Criticism, Literary History, Reading, Writing

A GOLDEN AGE? Today, criticism is being practiced and received as an artform in its own right. What makes this possible, and can it last?

Novelist Ryan Ruby writes that the last five years or so have been “a golden age of popular criticism”: “What the exemplary critical essays of the present day have in common is that they are received as literary art, providing an aesthetic experience closer to fiction than to a consumer report or even to scholarship.”

One form of popular criticism Ruby describes is a critical essay that “is a specific variant on the personal essay”:

These are essays in which the critic narrates the experience of reading a particular literary work in the first person as a means of situating their analysis of it. . . . the best of these essays skillfully balance narrative exposition and critical analysis of the text. Well done, the advantages of this form are many: they provide a surrogate for the reader’s experience of the text and make concrete the stakes of reading as an activity. No less importantly, they merge the kinds of pleasure one receives from the interpretation of a text with those of fiction.

Categories: Literary Criticism, Reading, Writing

Why the concept of invisibility so captivates the imagination

“From ancient fables to the latest science theory, invisibility represents some of humankind’s deepest fears and desires”

Greg Gburis, professor of physics and optical science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, examines how and why the notion of invisibility has fascinated people from ancient times to the present. Most compelling is his conclusion:

For scientists and non-scientists alike, the various depictions of invisibility in literature and popular culture suggest that the concept serves, ironically enough, as a mirror in which we see ourselves. The extent to which ordinary people like to imagine the uses of invisibility by rogues, monsters and superheroes may tell us something about how deeply concerned we are with our own potential to use – and misuse – the powers at our disposal.

Categories: Literary Criticism, Literary History, Reading, Writing

Disappearing Act: The working life of Haruki Murakami.

Novelist Rumaan Alam discusses Haruki Murakami’s new book, Novelist as a Vocation. The book, Alam writes, “isn’t an inquiry into the craft so much as a half-hearted autobiographical reflection by one of its notable practitioners.

Murakami has honed so defined a style and set of preoccupations that Novelist as a Vocation reads almost as his novels do: A well-meaning, average Joe sort of wanders from reality into something else—here, the business of writing fiction. There’s some repetition, some surprising discursions . . ., and then the book concludes.

Categories: Author News, Literary Criticism, Literary History, Writing

Genre Blends We Need More Of

“Genre-blending is a time-honored tradition,” writes K.W. Colyard, “but we often see the same few blends — the paranormal romance, the sci-fi horror, the historical mystery — regurgitated again and again.” Here Colyard lists several other blends that readers might like to see more of, including several descriptions that end in -punk, romantic science fiction, and speculative mystery.

Categories: Literary Criticism, Reading, Writing

© 2023 by Mary Daniels Brown

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