Perché amiamo i romanzoni?

Why do readers — in defiance of conventional wisdom about shortened attention spans, small-screen devices and pinched schedules — persist in loving long, long novels?
Si chiede Laura Miller, critica letteraria di Salon?
E risponde:
"Part of the allure is simple gluttony: If you’re loving a book, it’s delightful to know that there’s plenty of it. But I believe there’s also an inherent appeal in fat novels, something that only written fiction can offer and that short stories, for all their felicities, aren’t able to provide. You can be swallowed up by a long novel, immersed in the world its author has created in a fashion that no other medium can rival. No, not even boxed sets of HBO series consumed in day-long binges! This immersion reminds many of us of our first, luxuriant plunges into books as children, and any author who can take us back to the place where we forget where we are and how much time has passed will pretty much have us eating out of her hand for good.
The pleasure readers find in this experience is often disdained by literary critics because it tends to hijack your ability to regard and evaluate the book as a work of art". salon.


Il nuovo uso di "because"

English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet. Questo è il titolo di un breve e interessante articolo di Megan Garber sulla funzione da preposizione che "because" assume sempre più spesso nell'inglese moderno.
"Let's start with the dull stuff, because pragmatism. The word "because," in standard English usage, is a subordinating conjunction, which means that it connects two parts of a sentence in which one (the subordinate) explains the other. In that capacity, "because" has two distinct forms. It can be followed either by a finite clause (I'm reading this because [I saw it on the web]) or by a prepositional phrase (I'm reading this because [of the web]). These two forms are, traditionally, the only ones to which "because" lends itself.
I mention all that ... because language. Because evolution. Because there is another way to use "because." Linguists are calling it the "prepositional-because." Or the "because-noun." theatlantic.


Alexander Payne’s Nebraska

Alexander Payne’s wonderful new movie, Nebraska, a deeply felt but—thanks to Payne’s signature drollery—never sentimental homage to a son’s relationship with his crusty father. Or, to be more precise, the relationship the son wishes he’d had with a father who might have been, as opposed to the actual one who accompanies him on a quixotic quest across Nebraska to collect a bogus sweepstakes prize. vanityfair.


Are older novels about love more powerful?

La domanda completa, che pone la scrittrice Adelle Waldman, è "Are older novels about love more powerful because their protagonists contended with societal repression, instead of merely struggling with their lovers and with themselves—with their conflicting desires and changing moods? Have the liberation of women and liberalization of divorce law really deprived the novel of its high stakes?"

E la risposta che giustamente dà è "I think the answer is no. The issue turns on where we think the narrative power of those older novels originates—whether it’s attributable to the social constraints on their characters (as well as the satisfying decisiveness of their fates—the suicides on the one hand or marriages that last “forever” on the other), or if, instead, these novels are, like so many contemporary novels, primarily dependent on psychological and internal drama". newyorker

In effetti Waldman ha scritto un bel drammone sentimentale, modernissimo e newyorkesissimo, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.  (Holt).


Find the Bad Guy

"Find the Bad Guy" è il titolo del racconto, bello, di Jeffrey Eugenides, uscito la scorsa settimana sul New Yorker. Ancor più bella, direi, è l'intervista all'autore da parte del suo editor, Cressida Leyshon. Eugenides parla del suo modo di scrivere e dice, tra l'altro, "Houses are important in fiction. “Howard’s End” is maybe the best example, but there are lots of others. Nabokov drew the floor plan to the Samsas’s apartment in his lecture on “The Metamorphosis,” and I’ve always kept that lesson in mind. If you picture a house or an apartment when you’re writing, you can see your characters more clearly. You know where they are, and you move them through a defined space. The reader can sense when a writer isn’t sure about these logistics. If you’re unsure about the room your characters are situated in, some of that fuzziness will get transmitted into the scene itself. You need to have specificity around you, even if you don’t mention one item of that specificity". newyorker.


The Twenty-Seventh City

The Twenty-Seventh City è il titolo del primo romanzo di Jonathan Franzen, uscito nel 1988 e ora ripubblicato da Picador per celebrarne il 25simo anniversario. "Some books ought to be allowed to molder in peace. Jonathan Franzen’s first novel, The Twenty-Seventh City, published in 1988, is a paranoid conspiracy novel, the kind of thing that doesn’t age well—and hasn’t. It has earned some rest. But it’s been trotted out for its 25th anniversary, and to make matters worse, saddled with a new introduction, a moist and ghastly piece of writing by an academic named Philip Weinstein. ...
The Twenty-Seventh City is one big mask,” Franzen told the Paris Review in 2010. “I was a skinny, scared kid trying to write a big novel. The mask I donned was that of a rhetorically airtight, extremely smart, extremely middle-aged writer. To write about what was really going on in me with respect to my parents, with respect to my wife, with respect to my sense of self, with respect to my masculinity—there was just no way I could bring that to the surface.” Parul Sehgal per slate.


Susan Sontag: The Complete Rolling Stone Interview

Susan Sontag: The Complete Rolling Stone Interview è il titolo di un libro di Jonathan Cott, uscito presso la Yale University Press. Contiene l'edizione completa di una famosa intervista rilasciata da Sontag alla rivista Rolling Stone nel 1978 e pubblicata, allora, solo in parte. Qui è accompagnata da una prefazione e note di Jonathan Cott, uno degli editor della rivista.
"But this long and largely genial portrait of the (not always quite so genial) intellectual in middle age also amounts to a strong and deeply personal argument about what it means to be cultured—an argument for why a middle-aged intellectual might be something worth being in the first place. Part of what is so appealing about Sontag’s thinking is the absence of any heavy intellectual machinery being brought to bear on whatever topic she happens to be considering; there is rarely very much in the way of dogma to be contended with. But there is a kind of personal dialectic at work in her attitude toward herself, toward her writing and reading and thinking and speaking. “The most awful thing,” as she puts it in the book’s final lines, “would be to feel that I’d agree with the things I’ve already said and written—that is what would make me most uncomfortable because that would mean that I had stopped thinking.” Mark O'Connell per slate.


Tama Janowitz

Tama Janowitz, ve la ricordate? L'autrice di Slaves of New York sembra dimenticata. Ho trovato questo ritratto/intervista che ci aggiorna su di lei. "Like others, I had long wondered what had happened to the author of Slaves of New York, A Certain Age, Peyton Amberg, Area 212, and other classics of this breakout star of the 1980s. Meanwhile, the rest of the Literary Brat Pack continues to be up to the usual antics. Jay McInerney has a book out on wine. Bret Easton Ellis recently wrote the script for The Canyons, a film by Paul Schrader about a porn star, starring Lindsay Lohan and James Deen. (Ellis also spent last fall hyping himself via Twitter as the right person to write the movie adaptation of E.L. James’ best-selling erotic trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey, only to lose out to British producer Kelly Marcel.) Janowitz, too, has published regularly since Slaves of New York, the collection of short stories about struggling artists that made her an overnight sensation in 1986. But unlike her counterparts who seem to court the gossip column, she doesn’t have a website or a Twitter feed, or lengthy search results on Perez Hilton. Batya Ungar-Sargon su tablet.


Alphabet Books for Adults

Per restare sull'argomento dei libri sull'alfabeto, Alphabet Books for Adults è il titolo di un corso tenuto da Jacquelyn Ardam, graduate student di letteratura inglese a UCLA. Il syllabus presenta un elenco interessante di libri sull'alfabeto, e inizia in questo modo: "Most books about the alphabet are geared toward kids; they're for pre- and early readers who are just beginning to learn about letters, the basic building blocks of language. But the last century has seen the publication of a number of alphabet-related books that appeal to adults too. Some of these books were written with an adult audience in mind, while others transcend their intended youthful audience through their innovative form and content. All of the books on this list contain adult pleasures; they use the alphabetic sequence as a means to reflect on topics as varied as globalization, mortality, modern art, and, of course, language itself. We adults may already know the alphabet, but these books insist that we have been taking it for granted for far too long". bookforum.


H, la lettera più litigiosa

Michael Rosen, scrittore inglese per bambini, ha scritto un bel libro sulle lettere dell'alfabeto, Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story (John Murray). "Actually, in the course of writing my book about the history of the letters we use, Alphabetical, I discovered that the alphabet is far from neutral. Debates about power and class surround every letter, and H is the most contentious of all. No other letter has had such power to divide people into opposing camps. In Britain, H owes its name to the Normans, who brought their letter "hache" with them in 1066. Hache is the source of our word "hatchet": probably because a lower-case H looks a lot like an axe. ". guardian.


For Who(m) the Bell Tolls

For Who the Bell Tolls, il cui sottotilo fa: One's Man Quest for Grammatical Perfection, di David Marsh (Faber) è un manuale scherzoso di stile, scritto da un editor del Guardian
"With admirable clarity, Marsh goes on to explain the gerund and subjunctive, the difference between comparing to and comparing with, and the correct use of "whom", avoidance of which has given this book its deliberately teeth-grating title. Cleverly, Marsh here inverts the usual reasons for understanding conventions. You need to know the rule for "whom" not because you should use "whom" whenever appropriate (because it will sometimes sound pompous), but because you need absolutely to avoid using "whom" when it should actually be "who", since that will sound both pompous and stupid". guardian.


The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets

The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets è il titolo di un libro di Simon Singh (Bloomsbury), un fisico laureato a Cambridge che ora si occupa di divulgazione scientifica. Qui sostiene che i Simpson siano pieni di allusioni matematiche. "But "the truth", according to Singh, "is that many of the writers of The Simpsons are deeply in love with numbers, and their ultimate desire is to drip-feed morsels of mathematics into the subconscious minds of viewers". "Ultimate desire" may be pushing it, but as Singh demonstrates in his lively book, there's no shortage of mathematical jokes and references scattered through the show. Whether or not the writers of The Simpsons are covertly using a cartoon to foist mathematical concepts on the unwary, Singh without question is". guardian.