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Book Recommendations Oddities

Books | “State by State” takes readers on an offbeat road trip across the country

Books | “State by State” takes readers on an offbeat road trip across the country | Seattle Times Newspaper:

‘State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America’ is an intriguing collection of essays and snapshots on the 50 states as seen through the eyes of 50 writers.

In a modern update of the series referred to in the previous post, Jeffrey Burke reviews the book State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America, edited by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey.

Weiland’s preface helpfully defines the intent: “a road trip in book form,” written by “our finest novelists and reporters.” Wilsey then goes on for 13 pages about a road trip he made in 2002 and makes no attempt to connect explicitly to the book’s mission. It’s a perfect warmup for the motley assemblage that follows.

Burke passes out several awards in the process of highlighting the eccentricities in this book–all of which make the book look like one well worth reading.

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Oddities

What’s the Funniest Novel Ever?

What’s the Funniest Novel Ever? – Paper Cuts Blog – NYTimes.com:
“In Rolling Stone’s new comedy issue, prominent comedians are asked to name the ‘funniest movie ever’ and the ‘funniest TV ever.’ “

And so, asks David Kelly on the New York Times book blog, what’s the funniest novel ever?

Here are some of the books nominated by the editors of the Times’s Book Review:

  • “Lucky Jim” (which got the most votes),
  • David Lodge’s “Small World”
  • “The Code of the Woosters”
  • “Leave It to Psmith”
  • “Bech: A Book”
  • “Sabbath’s Theater”
  • Carl Hiaasen’s novels
  • Jim Harrison’s early novels (“Warlock,” “A Good Day to Die”)
  • Richard Russo’s “Straight Man”
  • Michael Chabon’s “Wonder Boys”
  • “Catch-22″
  • “Candy”

Of course, Kelly points one, we must differentiate between “the greatest comic novel (“Don Quixote”? “Tristram Shandy”? “Ulysses”?) and the novel you find the funniest.” He adds that, while “A Confederacy of Dunces” isn’t great literature, Ignatius J. Reilly cracks him up.

So, what’s the funniest novel you’ve ever read? Post a comment here.

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Literary History Oddities

Famous Writers and Their Work Spaces Come Together in a Mural – NYTimes.com

Famous Writers and Their Work Spaces Come Together in a Mural – NYTimes.com:

This short piece discusses a mural painted by New York City artist Elena Climent for New York University’s Language and Literature Building. “Completing the mural took 18 months, much of it devoted to researching the rooms, conditions and rituals of each writer’s work.” The mural is 10 feet high by 30 feet wide and depicts the workspaces of six writers who spent at least part of their lives in New York City:

  • Washington Irving
  • Edith Wharton
  • Zora Neale Hurston
  • Frank O’Hara
  • Jane Jacobs
  • Pedro Pietri

Be sure to click on the sideshow button to see details of the representations of the first four writers’ homes.

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Oddities

Hoaxes hit bookstores – Los Angeles Times

Hoaxes hit bookstores – Los Angeles Times

It’s a scam aimed at independent book stores holding author appearances: Someone calls claiming to be the scheduled author, relates the story of an emergency, and asks the store owner to wire money to Western Union. Most of the events seem to be occurring in southern California. And although most of the scams are aimed at making money, one was apparently politically motivated, aimed at forestalling an event featuring a political writer that was supposed to be filmed by C-SPAN.

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Oddities Publishing Writing

Some Screenwriters Turn to Children’s Books

For some Hollywood screenwriters, an unlikely diversion: children’s books | csmonitor.com

Following an earlier report that some striking Hollywood screenwriters are using their off time to work on novels, here’s a follow-up: Some striking screenwriters for children’s shows are funneling their creative ideas into children’s books that will be published later this year.

But don’t think that a children’s book is something writers can just toss off in their spare time:

Writing for kids is tough, says Jerry Griswold, director of the National Center for the Study of Children’s Literature in San Diego, Calif. It took Maurice Sendak 8 years to draft the 300-word classic “Where the Wild Things Are.”

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Book Recommendations Oddities

Fifty States of Literature, Starting With Alabama

Fifty States of Literature, Starting With Alabama | Columbia Spectator

The Spectator here supplies you, free of charge, the first of a list of 50 books that we think capture the essence of each state, all while telling a great story along the way.

The Spectator, the campus publication of Columbia University in New York City, begins a literary tour of the U. S.

Their selection for Alabama is one of my all-time favorites, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

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Oddities Publishing Writing

Hollywood writers turn to Plan B: the novel

Hollywood writers turn to Plan B: the novel – Los Angeles Times

In case you’re wondering what screenwriters are doing with all their free time during the strike, the Los Angeles Times reports that some of them are working on their novels. One agent points out that, because scripts and novels require very different types of writing, success as a screenwriter does not necessarily guarantee success as a novelist. Still, if they can sell the movie rights to their books. . . (after the strike ends, of course).

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Author News Oddities

Greatest stories never told: Ten famous writers reveal their works that never made it into print

Greatest stories never told: Ten famous writers reveal their works that never made it into print – Features, Books – Independent.co.uk

George Steiner’s My Unwritten Books provided the impetus for this humor piece, in which several authors describe their “nasty pile of debris, of aborted riffs, stillborn metaphors and banished chapters.”