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Top Book Blogs 10/2015

[The Millions] Detoured Genius: On the Work of John Keats
John Keats’s 220th birthday falls this Halloween. Born on October 31, 1795, Keats survived only 25 years, but in that time developed into a poet of superhuman range, energy, and craftsmanship. The middle child of an orphaned family, Keats lived in a London populated by Dickensian characters: His

[Guardian Books Blog] Girls behaving badly – the thrilling rise of the YA antiheroine
They’ve been too nice for too long, but now mean, monstrous and even murderous girls are revitalising young adult fictionAntiheroes don’t feature in a lot of kids’ or young adult fiction. Likability, someone to root for, victims of clear-cut injustice – classic main characters tend to the

[Salon Books] “I don’t think Chris Christie learned anything”: Phony education “reform,” Facebook cash, and the real casualty — public school students
Q: As someone who spends a fair amount of time poking around in the smoldering wreckage of urban public education, I often get the sense that education reform advocates don’t have a plan for what’s going to happen to the kids reform leaves behind—the ones who remain in what’s left of the

[Book Forum] PAPER TRAIL: Friends review friends in the New York Times
You can read Andrew Roberts’s review of Niall Ferguson’s authorized Henry Kissinger biography in this Sunday’s New York Times Book Review. But you might want to prepare first by reading this review of the review by Greg Grandin, author of a more critical Kissinger biography. He points out that

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: The perils of Putin's grim trigger
The real reason Russia is "helping" Syria

[Guardian Books Blog] Comic relief: should writers and artists charge fans for autographs?
Some creators say fans should pay a fee for signatures at comic conventions, but can the magic of science fiction and fantasy survive the market in autographs?At every comic convention you’ll find panel discussions, caped crusader costumes and very long queues. But some of the waiting fans have

[The Millions] Grief and Memory
Humans have been covering paintings, windows, and mirrors after the passing of loved ones for generations. Why do we feel the need to close off our connection to the outside world when we are grieving? Colin Dickey writes about the social, literary, and religious connotations of grief and memory at

[Book Forum] VIDEO: Davie de Sola introduces Alice in Chains: The Untold Story for Thomas Dunne

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Repeating a phrase
Root out individuals responsible

[The Millions] National Book Foundation 5 Under 35
The 2015 National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Honorees have been announced! This year’s honorees are Angela Flournoy for The Turner House (our review here), Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi for Fra Keeler (our review here), Colin Barrett for Young Skins (which appeared in our most recent book

[The Millions] Apocalypse Now: Claire Vaye Watkins’s ‘Gold Fame Citrus’
In a few short years, post-apocalyptic literary fiction has passed from bracing novelty to marketing cliché. It has gotten so that when I see the words “pandemic flu” or “environmental cataclysm” on the back of a novel by a literary author, I have to resist the impulse to roll my eyes

[Guardian Books Blog] Eimear McBride on the 2015 Goldsmiths prize: why experimental fiction is dear to my heart
From Kevin Barry’s Beatlebone to Max Porter’s Grief Is the Thing With Feathers, this year’s shortlist is irresistible, even if all male Related: Goldsmiths book prize shortlist: Lennon, Jesus and life at the edges When I agreed to sit on the panel for the Goldsmiths prize last year, I hadn’t

[The Millions] Big Mama
Recommended Reading: On Carmen Balcells, “The Woman Behind Latin America’s Literary Boom,” in The New Yorker. Her authors called her “Big Mama” after Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s queen of Macondo. She worked with many of the authors included on our Latin American Nobel Candidates list.

[The Millions] New Release Date for JJS Book
John Jeremiah Sullivan’s new book, The Prime Minister of Paradise, now has a UK release date: June 9, 2016. Read our own Bill Morris’s review of Pulphead.

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Amendment penumbras
How did the Bill of Rights become the Bill of Rights?

[The Millions] You’re Invited
We have discussed the gender gap in literature more than once. At McSweeney’s, you’re invited to an all-male, all-white literary panel. Sounds fun.

[Salon Books] Amy Schumer negotiates seven-figure book deal raise
Next time you're planning to ask for a raise, take a peg out of Amy Schumer's book. According to a new report in The New York Times, the comedy darling signed a $1-million book deal with HarperCollins for a book of humorous essays back in 2013. A year later, perhaps sensing her star was rising

[Guardian Books Blog] Philip Pullman: how drawing helped me to see the world differently
Taking part in this year’s Big Draw festival reminded the author how drawing offers tremendous insight and pleasure Related: Chris Riddell and friends launch The Big Draw 2015 The best sort of activity is one that combines mental effort with sensuous delight. That’s why I love drawing. The sheer

[Guardian Books Blog] Books can reconnect children with nature
Getting children interested in the natural world is about storytelling - and that’s where books come in, argues author Piers TordayI live in London now but my world was shaped by the valleys of the south Tyne, overlooked by moorlands up top and cloaked in deepest forest down below. In the 1980’s

[The Millions] Love in the Ruins: On Matt Bell’s ‘Scrapper’
Detroit may not be cranking out the fire-breathing cars or the finger-popping Motown hits the way it used to, but the Motor City has been inspiring some splendid writing in recent years. The latest addition to this long and growing shelf is Matt Bell’s stirring second novel, Scrapper, a book that

[Guardian Books Blog] Poster poems: parody
Parodies range from the sweetly celebratory to the viciously unforgiving. So sharpen your quills – it’s time to deliver poetic justiceOne of the marks of the serious poet is that they develop a unique, instantly recognisable style of their own, a trademark voice that means regular readers of

[Book Forum] PAPER TRAIL: Chris Cox to edit Harper’s
In the wake of another mass shooting, this time at a college campus in Oregon, there has been disagreement over how journalists should proceed in reporting such events immediately after the fact, especially when using social media. In responding to the events in Oregon, the president made a

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: The United Nations at 70
Ignore the old complaints about U.N. funding

[Guardian Books Blog] Stephen Hawking demonstrates Relativity for National Poetry Day
Bridget Smith’s film of the physicist reading Sarah Howe’s poem is part of a star-studded project hoping to inspire readers to explore light through poetry Physicist Stephen Hawking and actors Samantha Morton and Sean Bean have joined forces with leading artists to make a series of short films

[The Millions] Banned Books Week
Comic of the Week: Over at Electric Lit, check out Grant Snider’s comic on why we ban books. We look at The Lorax and other dangerous books in honor of Banned Books Week.

[Book Forum] VIDEO: Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation, Akerlof & Shiller

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: How to change
Saying goodbye

[The Millions] Hitler at Home
Read about Hitler’s vacation homes and how they shaped his image via propaganda in an excerpt from Hitler at Home by Despina Stratigakos at The New Republic. We reviewed Ben Urwand’s book The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler, which discusses other propaganda surrounding the Nazi

[Salon Books] Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham: A tale of two multi-million dollar feminist book deals that were met with wildly different judgments
Yesterday, news broke that Amy Schumer had returned a $1 million book advance, with interest, to HarperCollins in order to hold out for and successfully negotiate a new book deal worth $8-$10 million with Gallery Books. The working title for the book of essays is "The Girl with the Lower Back

[The Millions] Cultural Moments
“It took me ten years (four of writing, six of rewriting) to complete The Listener. Now ‘trans is trending,’ and the book has been published into this particular cultural moment, one I could never have envisioned twelve years ago.” Rachel Basch discusses writing in the context of social

[The Millions] The Starship Lands
Sarah Blake has completed her twelve-part illustrated epic poem, The Starship, at Berfrois. Pair with our essay on why Americans read poetry but won’t buy poetry books.

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: What's the point of a professor?
Professors may think they're protected by academic freedom, but even the tenured should use social media with extreme caution

[NYT] Book Review Podcast: Niall Ferguson’s ‘Kissinger’
Mr. Ferguson discusses his new biography of Henry Kissinger, and Sloane Crosley talks about her first novel, "The Clasp."

[The Millions] Memoir and Literature
“I’ve always loved memoir, but it’s still seen as such a trashy genre and I wanted to speak to it as actual literature because that’s how it feels to me.” Mary Karr sits down with The Rumpus to discuss The Art of Memoir. We recently posted an excerpt from and a review of the book.

[Salon Books] Stop listening to these clowns: Economists’ bad ideas have been damaging our economy for years
Economists were indeed set back on their heels by the financial crisis of 2008 and by the depth of the recession and the levels of unemployment that followed. Though not well implemented, the aggressive financial rescue efforts of the government in 2008 nevertheless kept matters from getting far

[The Millions] Blade Culture
In Preparation for the Next Life, Atticus Lish showcased his ability to write brutal, unforgiving stories in terse, economical prose. This new short story from Granta is no different (and no less beautiful).

[Salon Books] So much worse than Auschwitz: “People not very different from us murdered other people not very different from us at close quarters”
Auschwitz symbolizes the intention to murder all Jews under German control, and Jews from every corner of the German empire were murdered in its gas chambers. Some Jews survived Auschwitz because it remained, to the end, a set of camps as well as a death facility, where Jews were selected for labor

[The Millions] Grid World
“He is for the most part interested in documenting the sources of our unusual suffering, those initial shocks that brought about the trauma in the first place. Nothing ‘languishes listlessly’ in his music; all those slowly orbiting fragments are drawn back together in furious rotation, sucked

[The Millions] The Fault in Our Canon
Do we need a Young Adult canon, what might one look like, and why should we even care? Kelly Jensen at Bookriot has some ideas. Here’s a related essay from The Millions on YA literature and the talking cure.

[The Millions] Fake Phone Numbers
Recommended reading: This great flash fiction piece by Ben Miller over at the Tin House Open Bar.  If we’re talking “flash fiction,” then we’d better mention this piece from The Millions on Lydia Davis and everyone’s favorite 140-character medium, Twitter.

[Salon Books] There are rules in my bar — Yes, even you, who called yourself the Angel of Death
BE NICE There’s a sign taped to the mirror behind the bar where I work in Brooklyn that says, “Be nice or you’ll get the boot.” (To animate its message, the sign is in the shape of a boot.) Some customers notice it, point it out, have a laugh. Others don’t. Still, it’s as good a

[The Millions] Am I Special?
“Perhaps I will just go underground and live a quiet life of desperation. I’ve heard mumblings about a place called ‘Social Media Manager.’ It seems like a nice place where all people my age go for a while. Just until things start to make sense again.” Nobody knows the throes of

[Salon Books] The woman who challenged Nixon: The Watergate story that transcends Woodward and Bernstein
Watergate was changing journalism in ways too numerous to count. Not only had the Washington Post gotten the scoop of the century; it had established itself as the second most important paper in America, behind only the New York Times. The Star lagged badly behind. Watergate also produced a new zeal

[Salon Books] “I don’t know who, or what, I’m married to anymore”: PTSD brings the war home
Continue Reading...

[The Millions] The Literary Orphan
Over at The New Inquiry, Alison Kinney writes on narrative opportunity, the true function of the literary orphan, and the rage of the real orphan. This moving piece by Matthew Salesses for The Millions on adoption and searching for oneself in a strange place is a nice complement.

[The Millions] That Which I Love
Recommended Reading: This jarring, surreal “amalgamation of three different pieces” on Hannah Arendt by Bobbi Lurie over at 3:AM Magazine. Arendt, herself a political theorist, would likely have appreciated this piece from The Millions on the life and afterlife of literary theory.

[The Millions] A Curious Ambivalence
Colin Dickey for Hazlitt has written a fascinating essay exploring the myth and superstition behind the ritual veiling of mirrors while in mourning. Did our own Sonya Chung cover her mirror while she mourned the passing of Mad Men?

[The Millions] Community of Conlangers
David J. Peterson is the man responsible for creating the Dothraki and Valyrian languages for the television adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series. Peterson, who took Martin’s 55 Dothraki names and created a 4,000 word vocabulary, is interviewed over at Flavorwire. If the

[Salon Books] The bad mother’s last refuge: Smashing the cult of mommyhood
The ambivalence of motherhood is a touchy subject that violates one of our greatest taboos: not liking your children. It’s a topic of conversation that rises to the surface of our social consciousness when we gawk at horrors like Andrea Yates murdering her children, or the trial of Casey

[Salon Books] A double standard in enforcing prostitution laws: “It’s economically advantageous to have [high-end sex work] going on”
Maddy has a “date” Friday evening in Washington, D.C., with a high-ranking government official who saw her ad on, a popular website for escort ads. The hazel-eyed twenty-six-yearold from North Carolina (whom I met at the Desiree Alliance conference) is staying at a boutique hotel in

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