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9 posts tagged Lit

There are right and fruitful ways to try to ‘empathize’ with the reader, but having to try to imagine yourself as the reader is not one of them; in fact it’s perilously close to the dreaded trap of trying to anticipate whether the reader will ‘like’ something you’re working on, and both you and the very few other fiction writers you’re friends with know that there is no quicker way to tie yourself in knots and kill any human urgency in the thing you’re working on than to try to calculate ahead of time whether that thing will be ‘liked.’ It’s just lethal. An analogy might be: Imagine you’ve gone to a party where you know very few of the people there, and then on your way home afterwards you suddenly realize that you just spent the whole party so concerned about whether the people there seemed to like you or not that you now have absolutely no idea whether you liked any of them or not. Anybody who’s had that sort of experience knows what a totally lethal kind of attitude that is to bring to a party. (Plus of course it almost always turns out that the people at the party actually didn’t like you, for the simple reason that you seemed so inbent and self-conscious the whole time that they got the creepy subliminal feeling that you were using the party merely as some sort of stage to perform on and that you’d probably left without any idea whether you even liked them or not, which hurts their feelings and causes them to dislike you (they are, after all, only human, and they have the same insecurities about being liked as you do).)

David Foster Wallace, from the short story “Octet” in the DFW collection Brief Interviews With Hideous Men

I’m reading DFW.  Shocking, I know.

Based on my experience of life, which I have not exactly hit out of the park, I tend to agree with that thing about, If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. And would go even further, to: Even if it is broke, leave it alone, you’ll probably make it worse.

George Saunders, from “My Chivalric Fiasco” in Tenth of December

Saunders, your humor is rad.

You are fucked. You are desirous of getting unfucked. Unfucking is considerably more difficult than fucking. The Second Law of Thermodynamics - because if you were thinking even for a minute that you are better educated than I am and therefore superior, Bumhole, you were mistaken - does not look with kindness upon unfucking. The level of fuckedness in a system always increases unless something acts on it from the outside. Worse yet, Bumhole, you do not own your own fuckedness. You do not appreciate the fullness of the fucking which has happened to you. You cannot hope to amend your situation without knowing what it is.

Nick Harkaway, The Gone-Away World 

I don’t know why but I absolutely love this.  Maybe it’s just the former chemistry major in me.

My first awkward author run-in happened in line for Justin Cronin’s new book, The Twelve. I took a photo of him as he signed the book of the person in line in front of me. He noticed it, and told me to tweet my photo or put it on Facebook. My response was something along the lines of, “Well, according to an episode of Are You Afraid Of The Dark, the camera takes a piece of your soul every time a picture is taken of you. I’m going to tweet your soul!” His response was a curious little head-tilt that screamed I AM UNFAMILIAR WITH NICK AT NITE AND YOU ARE SEVERAL BITS OF STRANGE, to which I thought YOU WROTE A VAMPIRE ZOMBIE BOOK HUSH YOUR JUDGEY FICTIONAL THOUGHTS.

from “I Say Awkward Things to Authors: BEA Edition" by Amanda Nelson (Book Riot)

This is hilarious, you guys should read it.  The Passage happens to be one of my favorite book so this part was obviously my favorite.

Heaven, Kiwi thought, would be the reading room of a great library. But it would be private. Cozy. You wouldn’t have to worry about some squeaky-shoed librarian turning the lights off on you or gauging your literacy by reading the names on your book spines, and there wouldn’t be a single other patron. The whole place would hum with a library’s peace, filtering softly over you like white bars of light…

from Swamplandia! by Karen Russell


Gods die. And when they truly die they are unmourned and unremembered. Ideas are more difficult to kill than people, but they can be killed, in the end.

from American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Just finished last night.  This book is a freaking gem.

Among other things, you’ll find that you’re not the first person who was ever confused, frightened and even sickened by human behaviour. You’re by no means alone on that score, you’ll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled moral and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them - if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.

The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Sallinger (via atomos)

Here’s a flowchart illustrating the legacy of HeLa cells.  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is an incredible book, and it’s just staggering when you start to realize what these cells have made possible.

Yet the Lacks family could never afford health insurance.  I think you can see where the ethical issues come in to play here.

Why reading Moonlight Mile by Lehane is quite sad


Look, it’s great to read another book by my favorite writer in my favorite series.  I have missed Lehane’s sense of humor (which is so so great).  So I’m really glad to have that again. 

But the further I progress in the book, the sadder I get.  It’s the last chapter in the series.  No more.  No more two of my favorite fictional characters in any medium.  No more Bubba either.  No more crazy Lehane twists and turns from the perspective of these two.

The series that produced my favorite book ever (Darkness Take My Hand) will be closed off from me forever.  Not cool.

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