The latest in our “classic novels in 60 seconds” series. Enjoy!
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on Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - View Comments
This year, if you don’t want to be just another Snookie in the crowd, and are striving for something a little more high brow, try one of these literary costumes.
Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird: Scout’s ham outfit is arguably the greatest costume of all time. Walk a mile in her shoes by securing a combination of chicken wire and cloth. Don’t forget to leave two peeps for eye holes!
Gulliver from Gulliver’s Travels: This one will evoke true fright, since we all know how terrifying it is to be tied down by hundreds of miniature Lilliputians. Use a simple outfit for the base: oxford shirt and slacks pushed up to reveal your socks. Then add the finishing touch by attaching a bunch of little army men to string and pinning them all over your body so that they are hanging down at all levels, ready to tie you up.
Miss Havisham from Great Expectations: Even those who relied on the Cliff Notes version of this classic will be creeped out when they see this costume. Buy an old wedding dress from the thrift store then shred it. Wear a veil atop a serious case of bed head and paint your face a pasty white. Seal the deal by carrying around a mold-infested cake.
Nancy Drew: This one is super-simple and straightforward. Wear a smart, preppy outfit, like a plaid skirt, oxford shirt, and blazer. Add a cloche hat and a magnifying glass, and you’re ready to hit the streets. Just make sure to badger everyone at the party with lots of pesky questions.
Lisabeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: You’ll need to channel your inner antisocial punk hacker for this one by donning a spiked dog collar, leather jacket, heavy mascara, pixie-length black wig, and combat boots. Use a laptop as your accessory and, for crying out loud, do not forget the tats. Bonus points for piercings.
Godot from Waiting for Godot: Show up extra late to the party wearing the following: green shirt, white tie, vest, coffee cup, and visor. Make sure to rant and rave sporadically throughout the night, about nothing and everything at the same time.
Lolita: Unfortunately, it’s way easier to go with Stanley Kubrick’s version of the seductress than Nabokov’s. But that doesn’t make it any less fun. Throw on some heart-shaped sunglasses, a short outfit with any kind of ruffle formation, and grab a sucker on your way out the door.
Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter: Sew a bright red ‘A’ to the bodice of your dress, top off with white bonnet and apron. Done and done, ya whore.
Dorian Gray from The Portrait of Dorian Gray: Not sure if you’ll meet many new friends at the party with this one, but wear a really sharp three piece suit and carry around a portrait of yourself all night. Then throw some acid on your face around 11pm for the ultimate party trick.
J.D. Salinger: Take extreme measures to part your hair with the utmost meticulousness. Then don’t leave the house at all.
on Thursday, April 29, 2010 - Comments Off
The photo at left was taken by two, in Salinger’s words, “shitty literary kids,” who essentially ambushed him for the sake of the photograph. “The wonder is that I have any kind of face at all left, grim or otherwise,” he said. “Piss on ’em all.”
There’s definitely a certain appeal about the “angry” writer. I don’t think I’m the only one intrigued with this idea; the Examiner recently put out a much talked about list of the best “author vs author put-downs of all time.” Maybe the “angry writer” appeals to us because in an oblique way the idea reminds me of some of the literary greats–yes, Salinger, and also Hemingway and Vonnegut and Twain, among others–writers who generally didn’t give a damn about what people thought of them and weren’t preoccupied with their sales ranking in The New York Times Book Review. If only we could be so free.
Times have changed, I guess, and like deckfight said, no one really gets angry anymore. But I still get a kick whenever authors “let loose” and refuse to censor themselves. Accordingly, I’ve put together a few of my favorite “angry writer” quotes. Hope you enjoy: Read more »
on Thursday, April 8, 2010 - Comments Off
J. D. Salinger became one of our most-beloved literary hermits. And Steig Larsson is holding strong on The New York Times Bestseller List six years after his death. Though I cannot mathematically prove that hibernation/extreme unavailability makes you an instant bestseller, it does seem that it doesn’t hurt to be either A.) extremely accessible a la Maureen Johnson or B.) extremely inaccessible, like Jane Austen. (She might not have been a hermit in her day, but if she had a dollar for every time she was referenced today…)
So for those aspiring writers that would prefer to be extremely inaccessible, as opposed to the alternative, here are ten easy steps to hide from today’s world: Read more »
More: We Have Fun
This Week: More (Mostly Naked) Odd Writer Rituals, Best Bad Metaphors, How to Become a Literary Star
on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - Comments Off
A visualization of some odd writer rituals from Lapham’s Quarterly. Victor Hugo wrote naked in the bedroom, Emily Dickinson wrote poetry in the pantry, John Cheever wrote in his underwear in the basement. Lots of nude or semi-nude writing going on, I can see.
Aaaand because it’s hump day, here is a plastic bag with the voice of Werner Herzog: Read more »
on Wednesday, February 3, 2010 - Comments Off
I would totally read a novel based on Craigslist Missed Connections.
I would also totally enjoy book reports made out of cake. (See left.)
Interlinked short stories via geocaches.
McSweeney’s reimagines The Baby-sitter’s Club for the new decade.
How to be a literary manboy of New York City.
Aaand to get you through the rest of your week: the ultimate graphic novel, in six panels: Read more »
on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 - View Comments
With 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and even Star Trek, the notion of transformative work has been a particularly hot topic these past few months. Transformative work not only plays havoc with intellectual property law, but also with the audience as storytellers take our familiar, beloved characters and then subvert them entirely. Holden Caulfield is 76 years old and on the run from a nursing home, Elizabeth Bennett defends her family from hoards of zombies, and James Tiberius Kirk finds himself without a father and a long way to go before he can become captain of the USS Enterprise. The result is all the more shocking and enlightening given the juxtaposition of the transformed work with our knowledge of the original work.
It’s a compelling artistic endeavor. And transformative work is nothing new. Fans of Homer’s The Odyssey and The Iliad wrote their own books based on his works. Cervantes’ Don Quixote saw more than a few unauthorized published sequels. John Gardner’s Grendel, a re-telling of Beowulf from the monster’s point of view, was published to great acclaim (which, being one of my favorite books, I definitely recommend you giving it a read). Gregory Maguire’s best-selling Wicked, an alternate take on The Wizard of Oz, is now one of Broadway’s biggest hits. You get the idea.
But what about fan-made transformative works? While there are countless pieces of fan fiction and fan art out there, in which fans take their favorite characters and merely continue their stories, genuine transformative works are far less common. But as few and far-between as they may be, their stories really resonate.
After the jump, a short list of lesser-known, but by no means lesser-quality, fan-made transformative storytelling that challenge the old adage “there are no new stories.”
"He lived in a small house on Long Island and every Easter he’d hide eggs all over the house and there’d be a hunt. These were hollowed-out egg shells with pinholes on the top and bottom, painted in pastels. And, man, he hid them everywhere. Most were taped under kitchen chairs. You’d pop off the front of the sheet-metal radiator and there’d be four eggs in there. People would raid the pantry, dump out all the flour and coffee and sugar and find eggs buried. One time he cut the top off a full jug of cranberry juice, sank a weighted egg into it, and melted the top back on so the cap was still sealed. This other time an aunt slid a framed picture to one side to find that a square hole had been cut in the sheet-rock wall and quickly replaced. She punched a hole in the wall there and, sure enough, found an egg. Eggs in light bulbs. Eggs in toilet tanks. And every time we found a tricky one he’d say, “You louse!” with a big smile on his face. He was a hell of a guy."