Fan Fiction

By late May, more than ten million copies of E.L. James’s Fifty Shades trilogy, an erotic romance series about the sexual exploits of a domineering billionaire and an inexperienced coed, had been sold in the United States, all within six weeks of the books’ publication here [London]. This apparently unprecedented achievement occurred without the benefit of a publicity campaign, formal reviews, or Oprah’s blessing, owing to a reputation established, as one industry analyst put it, “totally through word of mouth.”
It’s not news that “word of mouth” has become a business model in the book industry. But E.L. James, a forty-nine-year-old former television executive from West London whose real name is Erika Leonard [nella foto], has exceeded the sales feats of previous reader-discovered authors by such a staggering magnitude that she is in a category of her own. ...
The crucial difference may have less to do with talent, content, or luck than with a peculiarity of Leonard’s early readership: her work originated as fan fiction, a genre that operates outside the bounds of literary commerce, in online networks of enthusiasts of popular books and movies, brought together by a desire to write and read stories inspired by those works. nybooks.


Elogio del punto e virgola

When I was a teenager, newly fixated on becoming a writer, I came across a piece of advice from Kurt Vonnegut that affected me like an ice cube down the back of my shirt.
Do not use semicolons,” he said. “They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.”...

I blame my grammatical fall on an unlikely corrupter: William James. For the past year or two I’ve had on my nightstand a fat Library of America collection of his writing, and it took me a while to realize that one of the things I was loving about it — one of the things that made me feel as if I was sitting beside a particularly intelligent, humane and excitable friend on a long trip in a horse-drawn carriage — was his use of semicolons. James’s paragraphs, as lucid and unpretentious as can be, are divided and subdivided, as intricately structured as the anatomical diagrams he includes in “Psychology: Briefer Course.” Semicolons, along with exclamation points and dashes and whole sackfuls of commas, are, for him, vital tools in keeping what he called the “stream of thought” from appearing to the reader as a wild torrent. opinionator.


In aiuto di un dizionario

Collins English Dictionary chiede ai lettori di consigliare nuove parole da inserire. Sul suo sito si possono vedere le proposte recenti. Tra esse troviamo: 
Beering: A generalisation for the act of drinking alcohol in a social environment.
Fandabidozy: Great,fantastic
Fraped: Accessing someone elses Facebook profile without their consent and changing the status, profile picture or interests
Textlator: Translating text messages
Nolistic: The stage when a person (usually young) will answer no to any questions/suggestions


Ancora su Nora Ephron. Nathan Englander

But in trying to pay tribute to Nora, even when discussing craft, I think a food example the most fitting way.
Nora once had me and my wife over for a birthday dinner where she served an almond cake. The best I’ve ever had. I asked for the recipe (not because I’m much of a baker, but because seeing Nora bake made me think baking was the greatest thing around). The point is, Nora gave me the recipe. And she also gave me some advice. You’ve got to sift the flour. (She’d sift three times.) And if the almond cake sinks in the middle, as it sometimes does (hers hadn’t, but she surely knew that mine would—and it did) she told me to cover it with powdered sugar, and then put some fresh strawberries on top. Then it would be perfect. And that to me is a good way to sum up what being a working artist is all about. It’s about being a person who makes real things in a real world. You set out to do something, and to do it right. And if it doesn’t come out exactly as planned—you don’t just live with it, you find a way to make it even better than it would have been before. And who isn’t going to be happier with a strawberry on her plate? Nathan Englander, newyorker.


Perché i newyorchesi amano Krasznahorkai

László Krasznahorkai (nella foto)  è uno scrittore ungherese che in questo momento fa furore a New York. Hari Kunzru spiega perché: "The thing about New York (and, a fortiori, the gentrified bits of Brooklyn, where writers go when their Manhattan apartments are expropriated by the One Percent) is that it doesn't have a "contemporary master of the apocalypse". It has post-Ivy relationship anatomists, adderall-enhanced pop culture essayists, dirty realist white-guy novelists and hipster poets who transcribe their sexts and cut them up with Wikipedia entries on HPV and Jersey Shore. It has, at the last count, 247 trillion recent MFA graduates, at least a dozen of which are to be found, on any given morning, abseiling down the glassy exterior of the Random House publishing building, in an attempt to get Sonny Mehta to read their collection of short stories modelled on Denis Johnson's Jesus's Son". guardian.


A-Z of Unusual Words

Si tratta di un progetto interessante: l'illustrazione di un alfabeto di parole inusuali. Per esempio Biblioclasm: The practice of destroying, often ceremoniously, books or other written material and media. Per vedere tutto questo bislacco alfabeto cliccare qui.


In Defense of Cursive

As of Independence Day, 2012, forty-five of the fifty United States have adopted the Common Core curriculum in their public elementary schools. Those states are now in the process of phasing out the teaching of cursive writing, which, apparently, does not accord with the mission statement of the curriculum’s framers: to impart skills that are “robust and relevant” to the modern world. newyorker.


I cartoon di Flannery O'Connor

I cartoon di Flannery O'Connor sono interessanti, e particolarmente interessante è l'articolo di Barry Moser che mette l'attività di cartoonist di O'Connor (svolta mentre era all'università) in relazione a quella, successiva, di scrittrice. "I suspect that most of them were done inside an hour’s time. If not, then she was dawdlin.’ This is very much in keeping with the medium. When worked warm, as on a hotplate, linoleum cuts like butter. The cutting tools meet little, if any, resistance. It cuts quick and easy. Later in her life she would say that the things that she worked on the hardest were usually her worst work. She also said that a story—or a linoleum print, if you will—has to have muscle as well as meaning, and the meaning has to be in the muscle. Her prints certainly have muscle, and a lot of it". 
Oppure, poco più avanti, Moser nota l'abilità di O'Connor a catturare i gesti. "This understanding of gesture flows over into her fiction. Take for example the problem she has about the final meeting of Mrs. May and the bull in her short story “Greenleaf”: “My preoccupations,” she wrote to her friend Betty Hester, “are technical. My preoccupation is how am I going to get this bull’s horns into this woman’s ribs?”. nybooks.


Book Preview per la seconda metà dell'anno

Molte novità interessanti in arrivo per la seconda metà dell'anno.
coverLionel Asbo: The State of England by Martin Amis: The late Christopher Hitchens would have been pleased to know that his partners in literary romance Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, and Ian McEwan all have major work coming out this fall. First up to bat is Amis, whose last novel, The Pregnant Widow, signaled something of a return to form. The eponym of his new one, Lionel Asbo, is a classic Amis creation – an id-addled criminal who takes his last name from a British court document called an Anti-Social Behavior Order. In a Dickensian twist of fate, the novel shackles Asbo together with a more sensitive nephew,  Desmond ... themillions.


I diari di Mavis Gallant

Mavis Gallant nel 1950
I diari di Mavis Gallant saranno pubblicati in un prossimo, imprecisato, futuro da Knopf, a cura di Frances Kiernan, amica della scrittrice. Deborah Treisman, del New Yorker, la intervista. 

Mavis Gallant, who will turn ninety in a few weeks, kept a diary for more than fifty years. You’ve been transcribing her notebooks with the aim of editing and publishing the diaries in book form. Can you tell us a bit about the scope of that project?
The diaries themselves are vast. Handwritten mostly, with a few typed pages, dating from 1952 through 2007—dozens and dozens of notebooks. They represent almost daily entries from a true master of the detail, and in reading these journals I have come to understand that they were a kind of flexing of her writing muscles: practice, perhaps, for the layered and complex observations in her short stories. newyorker.


Brenda Shaughnessy’s Andromeda

Brenda Shaughnessy’s Andromeda pare sia una raccolta di poesie molto potente, cruda. Come la poesia "Mother", che fa:

I know I am his mother, but I can’t
quite click on the world’s essential aspects,
can’t denude the flora
or disrobe the kind of housecoat
“mother” always is. Something
cunty, something used.
Whatever meaning the word itself
is covering, like underwear,
that meaning is so mere and meager
this morning. Mother. Baby.
Chicken and egg. It’s so obnoxious
of me: I was an egg...

Uscirà alla fine dell'estate per Copper Canyon Press. newyorker.


Genevieve Jones

La vita di Genevieve Jones, ornitologa dell'età vittoriana, che studiò e dipinse le uova e i nidi degli uccelli dell'Ohio, è raccontata in un bel libro di Joy Kiser, America's Other Audubon (Princenton Architectural Press). "When she was only six years old, Genevieve Jones, known to her friends as Gennie, began accompanying her father Nelson, a medical student and amateur ornithologist, on buggy rides into the wilderness, searching for birds’ nests and collecting eggs to add to their make-shift cabinet of natural history. One spring morning in the 1850s, Gennie found an intricate bird’s nest that neither her father nor Howard, her younger brother, could identify. An inquisitive mind, she set out to find a book that would solve the mystery, only to find that no one had ever written one to help people differentiate the nests and eggs of various birds. What followed was a remarkable story of art, science, and entrepreneurship, full of tragedy and triumph, as the Jones family embarked upon filling that void in natural history. brainpickings.


Endangered Languages Project

The Endangered Languages Project is an online resource to record, access, and share samples of and research on endangered languages, as well as to share advice and best practices for those working to document or strengthen languages under threat.  
Per esempio si possono trovare informazioni sul koro, una lingua in via di estinzione, parlata in India (v. foto): "Koro is a language previously unknown to science that was documented in the mountains of northeast India. It is spoken by no more than 4000 people"


Ancora su Nora Ephron

Le sue - di Nora Ephron - frasi celebri raccolte in un sito. Tra esse, "I live in New York City. I could never live anywhere else. The events of September 11 forced me to confront the fact that no matter what, I live here and always will. One of my favorite things about New York is that you can pick up the phone and order anything and someone will deliver it to you. Once I lived for a year in another city, and almost every waking hour of my life was spent going to stores, buying things, loading them into the car, bringing them home, unloading them, and carrying them into the house. How anyone gets anything done in these places is a mystery to me”. Assolutamente vero per quel che riguarda Milano. E ancora, "When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you”. ew.com.


Letture pre-vacanziere

A.M. Homes, Musica per un incendio (Feltrinelli), traduzione di Maria Baiocchi e Anna Tagliavini. Devo dire che la tradizione Cheever-Updike regge. Mi sembra che Homes ne sia una degna epigona (si può dire?). Ho letto volentieri questo suo romanzo. La prosa scorre veloce, con un buon ritmo, ma non troppo incalzante (e anche la trama non è fitta) e questo permette, mentre si legge, di pensare anche ad altro. Cosa che mi è risultata piacevole, come una passeggiata.