Writer Fight! Writer Fight! : William F. Buckley, Jr. v. Norman Mailer

Norman Mailer, that ever-so-macho author (The Armies of the Night, The Naked and the Deadis almost as well-known for his physical fights as for his writing. He famously head-butted Gore Vidal in the green room before their mutual appearance on the Dick Cavett Show in 1971.  Once on set, the altercation turned menacingly verbal, with Cavett getting in at least as many digs as Mailer:

A less-famous incident of verbal sparring occurred between Mailer and William F. Buckley, Jr. founder and long-time editor of the National Review

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A Cheater’s Guide to the Classics

DISCLAIMER: If you are a student assigned to read any of the following classics in school, you should ABSOLUTELY read them all the way through! Not only are they classics for a reason, but that’s your job as a student, and as members of the educational community we would be remiss if we didn’t point that out.

If you are, on the other hand, one of the 62% of adults who are simply willing to lie to make themselves appear smarter, well then this article is for you!

That’s right, roughly 6 out of 10 adults claim to have read books they’ve never even opened in an effort to appear more intelligent and impress others. How do they get away with it? Mostly through movie adaptations. But why rely on a director’s interpretation of Great Expectations when walking into the potentially vicious traps set by your dinner party counterparts? I mean, if you really want to get serious about appearing smarter, you’ll have to study with some study guides. And what a surprise–we just so happen to have some of those! 

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You could read the 1,225 pages this Tolstoy classic, or you could just prop it on your bookshelf at home and internally vow to get around to it “one day”

The top ten books people claim to have read, but haven’t, are:

1984 by George Orwell – 26%

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – 19%

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – 18%

Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger – 15%

A Passage to India by E M Forster – 12%

Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkein – 11%

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – 10%

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky – 8%

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – 8%

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – 5%

Titles that just missed the cut are The Bible (3%), Homer’s Odyssey (3%) and Wuthering Heights (2%).

Be serious about appearing smarter: study smarter. Never walk into a dinner party unprepared again!


Hey, You Forgot…Oh, Nevermind: Top Ten Books Most Often Left in Hotel Rooms

The most common things left behind in hotel rooms are chargers, “intimate” items, and books.  Every year, Travelodge releases a list of those unfortunate tomes, and here is this year’s top ten, and for your snarky pleasure, comments from Amazon readers.

Topping the list, to the surprise of literally no one who has ever seen the internet, we have the third in the inexplicably best-selling Fifty Shades series.  (So many unanswered questions from the first two, I know…. ).

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1.  Fifty Shades of Freed by E.L. James 

Review:  Be under no illusions Dear Readers, this book is terribly written. It makes Twilight look like Anna Karenina and that is saying a lot since it started as Twilight fan-fiction (if that isn’t enough to put you off then you cannot be saved, good luck to you). I’ve read stories by 5th Graders with more character development and narrative drive than this.

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2.  Bared to You by Sylvia Day 

Review:  Bare to You is as close to Fifty Shades of Grey as a book can get and not be called Fifty Shades of Grey.

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3.  The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst

Review:  Poorly written dialogue & sex scenery* make this book very boring.

(*Sex scenery? What is that, exactly?)

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Salinger to Be Published Posthumously

The Catcher in the Rye author, who died in 2010, left instructions to publish his unseen works, including new stories featuring his most famous character Holden Caulfield.

salinger

J. D. Salinger was always a guarded artist. He kept a very small inner circle of only “seven or eight people,” says his son Matthew, outside of which nobody could have known that the author continued to write through the years, let alone that he planned to release any more of his works.

But a new documentary and accompanying book, both simply titled “Salinger,” are said to reveal both Salinger’s instructions to publish a  handful of never before seen stories and details of the elusive writer’s private life. Of the latter, the documentary’s director Shane Salerno says he and writer David Shields have uncovered new details about Salinger’s mysterious first wife–Sylvia Welter, a suspected Gestapo informant–as well as the young Jean Miller (only fourteen when they met) with whom he shared a long correspondence followed by a brief relationship.

For me, those sordid details Salerno and Shields boast of leave a bad taste in my mouth. The delivery, against the wishes of Salinger’s family and close friends, gives them all the credibility and dignity of a TMZ scoop. However, the duo insist that their sources regarding the author’s plans to publish are reliable, being “independent and separate” of one another.

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What You Read Over Summer Vacation: Readers Respond to eNotes

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Remember, just a few months ago, when the summer seemed endless and our Loyal Blog Readers were asked what  books were going into beach bags and which were being chucked in the backseats of cars?  Some were novels recommended by a friend; others were purchased because of the rave reviews of trusted literary critics; still others were ones that had been Christmas gifts that we were finally going to have time to read.  Well, now those readers report back, with thumbs up or down or sideways about those earlier choices, and some that snuck in somehow…impulse buys or gifts.  Here’s what you had to say about your summer reading selections:  

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Violent Delights: A New Romeo and Juliet Film Coming Soon

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Me, an hour ago on Tumblr:  Scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll… Wait.  What’s this?

Yep.  It’s time for a new cinematic interpretation of the Ultimate Forbidden Love.  It’s been seventeen years, believe it or not, when the then 17-year-old Claire Danes starred as Juliet, opposite 22-year-old Leonardo di Caprio as Romeo.

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This time, the play is returned to Shakespeare’s  intended era and setting, the early 14th century in Verona (the Danes-di Caprio version was a “hip and modern” take, set in a “suburb of Verona”).

Visually, this new film looks lush and beautiful (at least from the trailer).  Its young stars, 17-year-old Hailee Steinfeld as Juliet and 21-year-old Douglas Booth could be described as lush and beautiful as well.

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Feats of Greatness, Feet of Clay: Authors, Flaws, and the People Behind the Stories

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(Orson Scott Card poses at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, in 2008. Wikimedia Commons/ Nihonjoe)

“Just because someone’s a member of an ethnic minority doesn’t mean they’re not a nasty small-minded little jerk.” ~ Terry Pratchett, from Feet of Clay 

There is a reason I frequently shy away from reading biographies:  people suck.  Even the best people suck.  If you want to go on admiring someone, don’t know them personally.  The art, of course, speaks for itself.  It need not be burdened by the shortcomings of its creator.  But (at least for me) it is difficult to separate the two once you know.  You cannot, as the saying goes, unsee something.

Today, a lot of people, including myself, were surprised to learn that beloved science fiction writer Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Gameis an anti-gay activist, and has been for a very long time.  In 2008, he wrote that “marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down.”   Responding to the Supreme Court decision on the topic of gay marriage, Card told Entertainment Weekly  “it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.”

Hmmmm…. interesting that someone who is against tolerance wants to see how people with tolerance respond….

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