Bites: Hemingway’s African Snows, Colson Whitehead on Your Next Novel, The Virtuousness of Swiss Prisons, and more

Hemingway’s short story “The Snows of Kilimanjara” may make a resurgence in the coming years, as the African snows, once “as wide as all the world…and unbelievably white,” of the sky-high peak could be completely obsolete within as little as 12 years. Lit. Is the Internet making you illiterate? Colson Whitehead on choosing What to Write Next: play darts! The Millions has compiled a descriptive list of Difficult Books.  I like this.  Let’s read them. Somerset Maugham broke all the […]

Continue Reading

Bites: PEN’s Spelling Bee, Fitzgerald’s Taxes, Whitman’s Jeans, Obama the Comic, France Hates Scientology, and more

Last night at Le Poisson Rouge, some of New York’s biggest writers got together for a spelling bee to benefit PEN American center’s literary journal, PEN America and the release of their eleventh issue, “Make Believe.” Lit. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tax returns.(Thanks, The Rumpus) Whoa, another e-reader from Barnes & Noble?  I’m totally confused. Today, we’re tackling e-readers and book reading, I guess.  First, Book Bench with Bruce McCalls’ new book Fifty Things to do with a Book (Now that […]

Continue Reading

Bites: So Many Wild Things, Gigantic Interviewed, Mr. Rochester is Dreamy, Nobels for the Small Press, 1989, Dirty Projectors at NYer Fest, and more

Wild Things: It’s Released! Did you know?? Pitchfork interviews Spike Jonze. We’ve All Been Wondering Lately about “What Makes a Children’s Classic.”(NYT Arts Beat) Ohmahgawd–Wild Things, Wild Things, Wild Things. Lit. This essay on the importance of the humanities is outstanding.(Harper’s) Gigantic is interviewed by Fictionaut. “But, reader, I loved him.”  On Charlotte Brontë’s Mr. Rochester as the most romantic character in literature.  Oh, yes. Reading!: the demand of literature From last week, The Millions on Lit’s Nobel Prize and […]

Continue Reading

Aleksandar Hemon is My Favorite Writer I’ve Never Read*

This is true first because he inhabits Chicago, a city where some of my fondest memories are held.  Second because of this, and finally this.  Now, a video of Hemon along with Stuart Dybek hangin’ out on a porch in Chicago, discussing Chicago, is up at Granta Mag, in light of their summer 2009 issue which honors the city. [vimeo 6625765] *For a few months The Lazarus Project has been sitting on my nightstand–next to A Mercy, which I bought […]

Continue Reading

Kafka, and Surrealism, Will Make You Smarter

by Willa A. Cmiel “…At this juncture, my intention was merely to mark a point by noting the hate of the marvelous which rages in certain men, this absurdity beneath which they try to bury it.  Let us not mince words: the marvelous is always beautiful, anything marvelous is beautiful, in fact only the marvelous is beautiful.” The Guardian this afternoon: Research from psychologists at the University of California in Santa Barbara and the University of British Columbia claims to […]

Continue Reading

The Gospel According to Harry (and Scholars, and Fanatics, and Movie-Goers)

By Willa A. Cmiel I would claim to be a part of the original Harry Potter generation. The series starts near Harry’s eleventh birthday, and the first book came out in 1997 when I was eleven years old. Although “too old” for children’s books now (I still read Alice in Wonderland, often), I grew up with Harry. I was with him from the very start. At this point, though, Harry Potter belongs to no generation, as much as he belongs […]

Continue Reading

Sherlock Holmes: Nearly Regal or Downright Raunchy?

By Willa A. Cmiel Sherlock Holmes’ final adventure, The Valley of Fear, is being republished. While Victorian romances are of late being reimagined with either zombies or flowery covers, Holmes gets pulp-y, and totally sexed up. The goal is to make the book look as far from a “classic” as possible, as the label is apt to repel certain readers who might otherwise be totally into it. In other words, publisher Hard Case Crime is presenting something ‘good for you’ […]

Continue Reading

Bites: Nora Ephron not optimistic, novels about being broke, America still liberal, Antony does Beyonce, problems with the High Line

By Willa A. Cmiel America is still blue. Nora Ephron’s must-reads include The Great Gatsby and Barbara Ehrenreich’s upcoming Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. “Ehrenreich convinced me so completely that I hesitate to say anything so positive as that this book will change the way you see absolutely everything; but it just might.” Another list: The Best Novels About Being Broke. First three are Oliver Twist, Hunger, and, my personal favorite, Down and Out […]

Continue Reading