Country in the middle of ‘literary boom.’
There is an Icelandic proverb that says “ad ganga med bok I maganum"– literally, everyone "has a book in their stomach.” Or at least, one in ten do. Per capita, Iceland produces the most writers out of any country in the world; ten percent of the small island’s 300,000 residents will be published at some point in their lifetime. Publishing is so common that one novelist, Kristin Eirikskdottir, said it sometimes gets competitive, “especially as I live with my mother and partner, who are also full-time writers. But we try to publish in alternate years so we do not compete too much." Who reads all these books? Iceland is a nation of voracious readers: Iceland boasts a 99 percent literacy rate.
When historian Simon Winchester became American, he decided to set out to understand how the country developed. His new book tells the story of the men who shaped and united America. He talks to Eric Herschthal about what he found.
Most naturalized citizens have to learn something about America’s history. But Simon Winchester, the prolific British-born author who became an American citizen in 2011, tried to re-write it. His new book, The Men Who United the States, tells the nation’s history through the creation of its infrastructure—roads, canals, the telegraph, telephone, and electrical grid. Focusing on the many forgotten figures who brought these projects into being, he argues that these quotidian projects were critical to unifying a country of polyglot citizens.
What’s happening on the Emerald Isles? Two new books, one short stories and the other a detective novel without a resolution, to the new fiction being written by Irish writers. By Andrew Fox.
The short story was the weapon of choice for a generation of Irish writers—including Seán Ó’Faoláin, Frank O’Connor, and Liam O’Flaherty—many of whom had fought for the Republican cause in both the War of Independence and the Civil War, only to see their ideals defeated by the conservatism and social compression that marked the early years of the Irish state. It was in the face of these challenges during the 1930s and 40s, wrote Ó’Faoláin, that a form defined by its brevity and its inconclusiveness presented to Irish writers that most important though unlikeliest of things—an opportunity to arrive at an original “personality.
Score settling, women bashing, Smiths hating, and finally a reveal about his mysterious love life—Nico Hines digs into Morrissey’s new ‘Autobiography’ for the most scandalous tidbits.
The outcry over Morrissey’s Autobiography started before anyone had read a word. Somehow, the pop iconoclast persuaded, or cajoled, Penguin to publish his memoirs as part of its Classics series, which previously had been reserved for significant works by the great figures in literary history, including Homer, Mark Twain, and Jane Austen.You won’t be surprised to hear that the most celebrated contrarian in British music has packed plenty more controversy between those trademark covers.
A new biography looks at how FDR’s thwarted dream of serving in a Navy uniform primed him to eventually become president. But Harvey Kaye says the preparation came even earlier.
What made Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the wealthy son of Hudson River valley aristocrats, the liberal, indeed, the radical he became? When and where did he develop the ideas, sensibilities, and commitments that would propel and enable him to mobilize Americans to pursue the great democratic labors of the New Deal and lead the nation in a war against European Fascism and Japanese Imperialism and for the Four Freedoms—freedom of speech, Freedom of religion, Freedom from want, Freedom from fear—which he proclaimed in January 1941?Both FDR’s friends and biographers have speculated on the origins of his progressivism.
The government shutdown has reached such absurd levels that a whole new vocabulary is needed to talk about it. Liesl Schillinger to the rescue with a bevy of words that might help you make sense of it all.
What do you call a long-winded member of Congress whose opinions infuriate you? Ambrose Bierce, a century ago, in his Devil’s Dictionary called such a blowhard a “harangue-outang.” If Congress is controlled by harangue-outangs, can the country prosper? Bierce would have called such a prospect “incompossible.” Given the intractable problems between today’s Republicans and Democrats in Congress, it’s a pity there isn’t a fresher lexicon than Bierce’s to describe the ills of contemporary politics.
Plans to write a second book to "set the record straight" about her involvement with John Edwards.
If Rielle Hunter is sincere in her apology, does that mean she’ll give refunds to people who bought her book. Hunter, who famously had an affair with John Edwards, is apologizing for it all—the affair and writing a book about it. To prove how sorry she is, she’s writing a second memoir. The book, called In Hindsight, What Really Happened, is supposed to set the record straight about Hunter’s “regrets and mistakes.” In an open letter on the Huffington Post, Hunter apologizes for “behaving badly,” but claims she couldn’t help herself: “Unfortunately, I was not thinking about anyone but myself. I was selfish. I fell in love with John Edwards and wanted to be with him and that desire trumped everything else.” Still not okay, but let's all move on then.
Fiction includes Pynchon, Lahiri, Saunders.
The National Book Foundation announced on Wednesday the 2013 National Book Award finalists, with five nominees in each of the four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people's literature. They were winnowed down from longlists of 10. The winners will be named at a gala dinner and ceremony in New York on Nov. 20. Fiction: The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride. Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon. Tenth of December by George Saunders.Nonfiction: Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore. Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields by Wendy Lower. The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer. The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 by Alan Taylor. Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright.Poetry: Metaphysical Dog by Frank Bidart. Stay, Illusion by Lucie Brock-Broido. The Big Smoke by Adrian Matejka. Black Aperture by Matt Rasmussen. Incarnadine by Mary Szybist.Young People's Literature: The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt. The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata. Far Far Away by Tom McNeal. Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff. Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang.
Allan Gurganus’s debut novel, ‘Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All,’ became an instant classic when it was published in 1989. In his long-awaited follow-up, ‘Local Souls,’ Gurganus returns to Falls, NC, to present three novellas about the new South. He talks to Noah Charney about using different handwriting for his manuscripts, why he doesn’t outline, and how he made his father proud.
NC: Where did you grow up? AG: I was born in Rocky Mount, NC. The town of 24,000 proved a great place to spend the first 17 years of life. But, after that, onward, outward. NC: Where and what did you study? AG: After a sound public education, I attended Penn and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. After being drafted into the military and studying Indonesian, I emerged as a writer, not a painter. I then worked with Grace Paley at Sarah Lawrence and John Cheever and Stanley Elkin and John Irving at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
Alexander Vreeland, grandson of the late Vogue editor in chief Diana Vreeland, has published a compilation of her memos from her tenure at the magazine.
“My grandmother was somebody who inspired a lot of creative people to do their best work," Alexander Vreeland, grandson of the late Vogue editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland, tells The Daily Beast.Now, he has compiled more than 300 pages of memos written by Vreeland during her tenure at Vogue from 1963 to 1971 -- which will be published in a new book, Memos: The Vogue Years, out this week. From industry colleagues to friends -- including Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, and Halston Frowick -- Vreeland's memos are personal and to the point; her way of sending direction, advice, and admiration pre-text message and e-mail.
In 'Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, The Tour de France and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever,' investigative journalists Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O’Connell reveal the full extent of professional cycling’s culture of cheating, sex, and doping.
The biggest revelation from Wheelmen broke last week: Sheryl Crow witnessing then-boyfriend Lance Armstrong doping. However, Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O’Connell uncovered plenty more shocking details about the full extent of Armstrong’s drug use as well as the many people and institutions that helped him.Kristin Richard Coordinated DopingArmstrong never hid his doping from the (many) women in his life. His first wife, Kristin Richard, distributed cortisone tablets to the USPS Cycling team and stored Lance’s EPO in their refrigerator.
In a new book, 'Humans of New York,' photographer Brandon Stanton curates his vibrant portraits of New Yorkers on the city’s streets. He talks to Allison McNearney.
In 2008, Brandon Stanton lost his job as a bond trader in Chicago. Instead of rushing to find a new trading position, he did what most of us wish we could do: he grabbed his camera. Deciding to take a sabbatical and indulge what was previously just a hobby, Stanton began to travel around the country to take portraits of residents of the major U.S. cities. After photographing over 600 people on the streets of New York, Stanton realized he was on to something—and decided to focus full-time on telling the story of the people who live in the most populated city in America.
Author of ‘The Luminaries’ is youngest winner ever at 28.
Eleanor Catton began writing her second novel, The Luminaries, when she was 25. Now, at 28, she is the youngest winner of the Man Booker Prize ever. This year's chair of judges, the writer and critic Robert Macfarlane, praised the maturity of the work, saying, “you read every sentence and you are astonished by its knowledge and its poise." Catton, from New Zealand, will be the last winner to compete against solely authors from the Commonwealth. Next year, American authors will also be considered for the prize.
Guardian reader’s choice: Zoe Venditozzi
The Guardian has named the recipient of its annual Not-the-Booker Prize, and despite it being a prize created in response to the Booker’s controversial choices, the 2013 winner was not the reader’s choice. Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life was chosen by a judging committee made up of blogger and book reviewer Simon Savidge, writer and researcher Simon Moore, and TV producer Victoria James; Guardian readers voted overwhelmingly in favor of Zoe Venditozzi’s Anywhere's Better Than Here. Atkinson will receive a special “Not the Booker” commemorative mug.
Calls Nobel Prize ‘a joke.’
Bret Easton Ellis, who has not won a Nobel Prize, took to Twitter to say that new Nobel laureate Alice Munro is “so completely overrated.” In a second tweet, The American Psycho author wrote that, “the Nobel is a joke and has been for ages.” Munro’s win has been praised by several high profile writers, including A.S. Byatt, Colm Tóibín and Anne Enright; apparently, most of Ellis’s followers also support the Nobel’s decision. He was forced to recant somewhat after widespread backlash, writing that, “the sentimental hatred for me has made me want to re-read Munro, who I never really got, because now I feel like I've beaten-up Santa Claus.”
James Franco’s first novel, a Dickensian ghost story, an ugly incident in American racial history, and England’s second-place effort in the race for the atomic bomb.
Actors Anonymous by James Franco. Though James Franco can now add “novelist” to his already lengthy curriculum vitae, his new book Actors Anonymous is less a novel than a collection of tangentially related short works, both fictional and non-fictional. He may not yet be a good enough writer to sustain a full scale novel, but Franco can write compelling short fiction. Of particular note are “McDonalds I” and “McDonalds II,” a pair of short stories about a struggling actor who works at a drive-thru, as Franco himself did before being discovered.
Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick on how President Obama should handle the crisis in Syria. Their series ‘The Untold History of the United States’ is now available on Blu-Ray and in paperback.
Kudos to Vladimir Putin for proposing a formula to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. Any action that reduces stockpiles of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons anywhere should be applauded. Each day’s news testifies to the fact that the world is awash in weapons, both “conventional” and unconventional. That the United States accounted for 78 percent of world arms sales in 2011, according to the Congressional Research Service, is not something to be proud of.
The famed chef is out with ‘Daniel: My French Cuisine,’ the definitive cookbook of his legendary 3-Michelin-starred New York restaurant Daniel. He picks his four favorite dishes for us, including the elaborately detailed squab vadouvan pastille and exhaustively precise miso-glazed sea scallop rosacea. Follow the directions if you dare!
Poulet à l’EstragonRice pilaf and yellow wax beansServes 6 to 8Poulet à l’EstragonSalt15 golf ball–size tomatoes1 tablespoon (14g) butter2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil2 (2- (0.9kg) to 3- pound (1.4kg)) farm-raised chickens, each cut into 8 piecesFreshly ground white pepper4 large shallots, sliced10 ounces (283.5) pearl onions2 tablespoons (32g) tomato paste3 tablespoons (24g) flour1/2 cup tarragon (120ml) vinegar2 cups (480ml) Chicken Stock (see base recipe)1/2 bunch tarragonRice Pilaf1 1/2 cups (270g) basmati rice2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil1 shallot, minced2 tablespoons (28g) butter2 1/2 cups (600ml) Chicken Stock (see base recipe)1 teaspoon (2g) salt1 bay leaf2 sprigs thyme2 sprigs tarragonYellow Wax Bean FricasséeSalt1 pound (0.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, in ‘Mad About the Boy,’ the third ‘Bridget Jones’ installment, author Helen Fielding kills off her hapless heroine’s soulmate. But British fans tell Tom Sykes it was a necessary step.
If you are a Bridget Jones fan, then you will surely have already heard the news: Mark Darcy is dead! Yes, in the opening pages of the new Bridget Jones book, Mad About the Boy, released on Tuesday, we learn that Darcy has passed away five years before. Bridget is now a wealthy but permanently frazzled widow and mum to two small kids.And it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a husband, or at the very least a good shag.
For tens of thousands of years the reality of human existence was discomfort. It is only in recent years—evolutionary speaking—that homo sapiens have been able to kick back and relax. In an excerpt from his new book, ‘The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease’, evolutionary biologist Daniel Lieberman explains why this new phenomenon of being comfortable is hazardous to your health.
In the late 1920s, two enterprising young men from Michigan held a contest to name the upholstered reclining chair they had invented. From the many submissions, they chose La-Z-Boy (other entries were Sit-N-Snooze and Slack-Back), and the company is still producing luxury chairs of the same name.Yet for the same price as some La-Z-Boy chairs, you could buy a round-trip airplane ticket to the Kalahari Desert, where you’ll be hard-pressed to find chairs, let alone ones with cushioning, reclining backs, and leg rests.
CHILL YOUR BONES
CBS Buys ‘Scary Stories’ Film
1980s children’s horror books.More
Oldest U.S. Book Sells for $14.1M
Printed in 1640.More
National Book Award Winners Announced
The Good Lord Bird takes fiction prize. More
STRIKE A POSE
Selfie Is Word of the Year
Beat out twerk, bitcoin.More
Author Barbara Park Dies
Wrote the “Junie B. Jones” series.More
Writer Doris Lessing Dies
Nobel Laureate was 94.More