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The Hours at 25: The book that changed how we see Virginia Woolf

The 2002 film version of Michael Cunningham’s novel The Hours “has come to define the popular image of Virginia Woolf in the 21st Century,” writes Lillian Crawford. The Hours is “a modern reinterpretation of Woolf’s 1925 novel Mrs Dalloway.” Crawford explains how Cunningham “weaves it [Woolf’s original story] together with other forms of reality, and brings the queer elements of her [Woolf’s] sensibility into the light as a celebration made possible decades after Woolf’s death.”

Categories: Fiction, Film, Literary Criticism, Literary History, Literature & Psychology, Reading

Read Your Way Through Appalachia

“Barbara Kingsolver, whose Pulitzer-winning ‘Demon Copperhead’ offered a variegated portrait of the region, guides readers through a literary landscape ‘as bracing and complex as a tumbling mountain creek.’”

Categories: Book Recommendations, Reading

The Small-Town Library That Became a Culture War Battleground

“Throughout the country, far-right groups are trying to control what books kids can read. In Dayton, Wash., they tried to shut down the library altogether.”

This is an extensive look at how attempts at censorship occur in the U.S..

Categories: Censorship, Libraries, Literature & Culture

6 Difficult Women Who Live on in Fiction

“Elizabeth Fremantle Rescues Misfits and Disruptors from the Wastebin of History”

One of the themes of Life Stories in Literature is the movement to give voices to marginalized people whose lives have been erased from history.  In this article Elizabeth Fremantle discusses the lives of some difficult women, “the disrupters, the kind of women that break the rules and push the boundaries, the kind of women that are driven and ambitious and uncompromising, that take risks and are prepared to face the consequences.”

Category: Life Stories in Literature 

The Pursuit of Beauty Fuels a Dark Streak in Fiction

“A spate of horror-tinged novels, including this fall’s Rouge, by Mona Awad, reflects a shared fascination: the hypnotic dystopia of the beauty-industrial complex.”

Laura Regensdorf points out how some recent novels focus on “the siren call of an oceanic beauty and wellness industry. A stack of recent fiction digs into this anxiety, though whether such novels qualify as an escape depends on how entwined a reader feels with this complicated slice of culture.”

Categories: Literature & Culture, Literature & Psychology


“A newly published book by the novelist Susan Taubes further reveals her struggle to make herself whole.”

The American novelist Susan Taubes drowned herself off the coast of East Hampton in 1969 at the age of 41. She had suffered from severe depression for a long time, but many friends thought the proximate cause of her death was a savage New York Times review of Divorcing, the only one of her novels to be published in her lifetime. The review had come out just a few days earlier. The critic, Hugh Kenner, had dismissed the work as the pretentious noodlings of a “lady novelist.”

Judith Shulevitz argues that “Divorcing—reissued in 2020 by NYRB Classics, this time to high praise—is a masterpiece: witty, raw, and outrageous. More than half a century and a feminist revolution later, it still feels utterly original, and is still shocking.”

Categories: Life Stories in Literature, Literary Criticism, Literary History, Literature & Psychology

Fiction writers fear the rise of AI, but also see it as a story to tell

Hillel Italie describes writers’ ambivalence toward artificial intelligence: “As present in the imagination as politics, the pandemic or climate change, AI has become part of the narrative for a growing number of novelists and short story writers who only need to follow the news to imagine a world upended.”

Read about some of the authors whose upcoming novels feature AI.

Categories: Literary Criticism, Literature & Culture, Literature & Psychology, Writing

© 2023 by Mary Daniels Brown

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