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Archive: Books

Robot and Juliet

By JK Evanczuk on Thursday, March 4, 2010 - Comments Off

I was inspired by Jacket Copy’s classic literature web movie and so put together one of my own using the simple (and free) online animated moviemaking tool xtranormal. Below is a video featuring part of a scene from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet–with the titular characters as robots. Xtranormal only has sterile, computer-generated voices to provide the dialogue, but in this context I’m thinking it kind of works.

After the jump, watch Jacket Copy’s Pride and Prejudice web video. Read more »

This Week: Spiffy Book Cover Designs

By JK Evanczuk on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 - Comments Off

Artists create 164 unique speculative designs for Nabokov’s Lolita:

As does artist Jim Tierney for Jules Verne’s classics:

Does book design matter to you? If you weren’t interested in reading these books before, do the spiffy new covers convince you to give the book a shot? I’m curious.


[Via The Rumpus and The Millions.]

Can Classics Be “Bad”?

By Tanya Paperny on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 - Comments Off

p>The worst books i ever read

I’m about to start teaching creative writing and composition once a week to a group of 11th and 12th graders in Harlem.  Many of them will struggle with basic reading and writing comprehension, but my goal is to get them excited about telling their own stories, but also to respect the craft: to understand that editing is an important part of any artistic process, that attention to details helps the final product, and that constant practice (via writing and reading regularly) can only make their own creative and academic writing better.

So what kind of stuff do I want to encourage them to read in order to get excited about books and about writing their own stories?  My mind automatically goes to “the classics,” a list of books many of which I haven’t even read myself (cue the guilt).  But are these the best works to get them excited?

The bigger question is this: Is a classic work of literature (fiction and nonfiction included) always “good” writing?

Read more »

And As For You, Pip…

By Morgan von Ancken on Monday, February 22, 2010 - Comments Off

405_pip_pocket I don’t understand this anxiety about TV supplanting literature as the main cultural vessel for our stories. Why does it matter? To me, TV and literature are on the same team. It’s the stories themselves that matter: good stories are good stories, regardless of what medium they reach us through, and there are television shows on the air today that way down the line will be treated with the same level of legitimacy that the “classics” receive now. What’s really interesting is that I would bet that the few television shows that do endure will share the same basic themes as many of our most beloved and respected books. In fact, there have even been a couple of times that the most popular shows of our time have expressly borrowed or paid homage to  “great” works of literature, adapting them for a modern audience. Here are a few of my favorite examples:

Read more »

Mrs. Darcy vs The Aliens

By JK Evanczuk on Thursday, February 18, 2010 - Comments Off

This whole classic-literature-meets-monsters trend keeps getting weirder and weirder. The latest mashup is Mrs. Darcy vs The Aliens, which author Jonathan Pinnock describes as:

Mrs Darcy vs The Aliens is a slightly demented sequel to Pride and Prejudice, although it has been described more accurately as “not so much Pride and Prejudice‘s sequel as its bastard offspring following a drunken one-night stand with the X-Files.”

Mostly, I like this idea because of the book trailer the author put together. It has Colin Firth in it, it’s in French, and it’s one of the weirdest book trailers I’ve ever seen.

If I could speak with one person dead or alive, I would want to chat with Jane Austen just so I could get her reaction to all these mashups. Given that she was apparently pretty risque and controversial in her day, I have a feeling she would think it all was a very good joke–what do you think?

More: Books, Reviews

Print-On-Demand Does Not Equal Instant Bookstore

By Tracy Marchini on Tuesday, February 16, 2010 - Comments Off

I do think the Espresso book machine, the end of the return system, and embracing e-books and interactive derivatives could solve a lot of the bottom-line issues in publishing. I personally can’t think of a single other industry that knowingly pulps nearly half of their product!

But Moriah Jovan’s post on the perfect bookstore makes it sound as if all of publishing’s problems are instantly solved with print-on-demand. There is a lot to consider though in the adoption of POD technology.


Read more »

More: Books

Literary Matchmaking

By Toby Shuster on Tuesday, February 9, 2010 - Comments Off

true love

Unfortunately, our favorite literary characters don’t always shack up with the perfect mates. So, in honor of Valentine’s Day, here’s a list of hypothetical couples that should make any dedicated reader swoon. Read more »

A World of Digital Books, Envisioned

By JK Evanczuk on Thursday, February 4, 2010 - Comments Off

a world of digital books, envisionedThe press is declaring that digital will overtake print within the decade. The visions that this news inspires are numerous and, occasionally, bizarre: a subway full of commuters with heads bowed over e-readers instead of morning newspapers, libraries with dozens of empty bookshelves hovering ghostlike behind radiating computers, multimedia diginovels with holograms jumping off every page. And that may only be the beginning.

So let’s engage in a thought experiment. Here is a world I have envisioned, wherein society has wholly purged itself of paperbound books, and digital readers have become the norm. Some of the events I will describe sound a little outrageous, but then again, some events have already come to pass. It’s a brave new (digital) world: Read more »

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Danzy Senna, Black History Month, and the Case for Interrogating Trauma

By Tanya Paperny on Wednesday, February 3, 2010 - Comments Off


But baby, there’s no such thing as passing. We’re all just pretending. Race is a complete illusion, make-believe. It’s a costume. We all wear one. You switched yours at some point. That’s just the absurdity of the whole race game.


A quote from “Caucasia,” the novel from author Danzy Senna, about a girl born to a white mother and a black father, both active in the civil rights movement. Birdie, the main character, doesn’t quite pass as either black or white, complicating things when she ends up fleeing with her white mother after her parents’ separation. “Caucasia” is about race, activism, mistaken identity, trauma, coming-of-age, and family. This book had the biggest impact on me of any book I’ve read in the past two years. Read more »

The Most Badass List of All Time

By Morgan von Ancken on Wednesday, February 3, 2010 - Comments Off
James Joyce - the best writer of all time? Ask the Modern Library!

Was James Joyce the best writer of all time? The Modern Library thinks so...

One byproduct of our culture’s ravenous appetite for media is a serious and insatiable addiction to lists. Have you guys noticed this? We just love organizing and ranking things, we’re all secretly obsessed with the whole nerdy taxonomy of classifying and comparing. Just check out the most  popular stories on Digg right now, I’m sure that a list recounting “The Top 20 Whatevers” is somewhere on there (at the time of this writing it was the  “24 Coolest Steampunk Weapons from Another Era,” but I’m sure that it will subtly change to reflect my point as time goes on). Yes, lists are great, especially for blog posts; after all, by their very nature they foment discussion (give people an excuse to argue about things that are arbitrary and impossible to prove).

But oh man there is one list out there with the weight of a venerated publishing house behind it, a serious list that puts all our other compulsive comparisons to shame. I first encountered it on the inside jacket of a copy of Ulysses that I was reading in college, and I’ve been in awe of its ambition and badassedness ever since. I’m talking about the Modern Library’s list of the 100 Best Novels.

Read more »

More: Books, Rants
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