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August 22, 2013

Satanic Summer: Horror Fiction for Hot Days

satans_beach  by Cameron Pierce

Horror is typically associated with autumn, when the days turn shorter, the air grows brisk, trees lose their leaves, and jack-o’-lanterns take their place on every doorstep. But there’s plenty of horror that’ll keep you awake through the sweltering nights. Here are eight short stories and seven novels perfect for the summer.

Note: With the short stories, I’ve included links to a collection/anthology containing that story to make them easier to track down.

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Dorothy Parker’s Poetic Sneakers

Dorothy Parker    (1893 - 1967)

Dorothy Parker
(1893 – 1967)

by Steve King

On this day in 1893 Dorothy Parker was born in Long Branch, New Jersey, to Henry and Eliza Rothschild (“My God, no, dear! We’d never even heard of those Rothschilds”). Her birth was two months premature, allowing her to say that it was the last time she was early for anything; her early writing was a “following in the exquisite footsteps of Edna St. Vincent Millay, unhappily in my own horrible sneakers.”

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August 21, 2013

Christopher Robin and the Milnes

Christopher Milne, A. A. Milne

Christopher Milne, A. A. Milne

On this day in 1920, Christopher Robin Milne was born, an only child to A. A. Milne. Christopher also wrote, his first two books being memoirs of his growing up and out from under the shadow of the fictional Christopher Robin. The writing of the first of these was “like a session on the analyst’s couch,” and reads partly as setting-the-record-straight, partly as settling-the-score.

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August 9, 2013

Born Again in a Second Language

In her exploration of the Catholic religion, “Letter to a Priest,” written the year before her death in 1943, Simone Weil noticed at some point that “for any man a change of religion is as dangerous a thing as a change of language is for a writer. It may turn out a success, but it can also have disastrous consequences.” The Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran, who was one such writer, talks of the change of language as a catastrophic event in any author’s biography. And rightly so.
When you become a writer, you don’t do so in abstract, but in relation to a certain language. To practice writing is to grow roots into that language; the better writer you become, the deeper the roots. Literary virtuosity almost always betrays a sense of deep, comfortable immersion into a familiar soil. As such, if for any reason the writer has to change languages, the experience is nothing short of life-threatening. Not only do you have to start everything again from scratch, but you also have to undo what you have been doing for almost as long as you have been around. Changing languages is not for the fainthearted, nor for the impatient.

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Top Ten Horrible Book Covers

Filed under: Lists — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 12:30 pm

worst-book-covers-titles-25  by Laura


They say that you should never judge a book by its cover but Reader, ‘they’ are wrong. ‘They’ also recommend you to floss and we all know how fucking horrible that is.

We judge book covers just like we judge everything and everyone you care about. Mostly that involves asking yourself ‘Is this person/place/thing going to benefit me in any way?’ and then ‘Do I enjoy looking at this person/place/thing?’.

ANYWAY. Books. Books are brilliant, there is no doubt about this, but when it comes to book covers, publishers can get it hilariously wrong. Here are’s thirty-four Top Ten Horrible Book Covers.


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Larkin as Monument and Sewer

Philip Larkin    (1922 - )

Philip Larkin
(1922 – )

by Steve King

On this day in 1922 Philip Larkin was born. Larkin’s mordant tone and accessible verse became so popular in mid-twentieth-century Britain that he was offered the Poet Laureateship-a position which he characteristically declined. Over the next decade, after his Collected Poems, his Selected Letters and a biography by Andrew Motion (then himself Poet Laureate) appeared, some found “the sewer under the national monument Larkin became.”

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August 7, 2013

Be Kind: George Saunders’ Advice to Graduates Goes Viral

smile“To the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness,” the author said in his commencement address

By Melissa Locker

Be kind.

That’s the gist of George Saunders’ advice to the class of 2013, delivered in a convocation speech at Syracuse University. While the graduation address was given months ago, thanks to a recent feature in the New York Times, it’s become the speech that keeps on giving. In fact, the sage advice in Saunders’ address has gone viral, spreading across the Internet on blogs, Twitter and Facebook.

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Ulysses in America

James Joyce    (1882 - 1941)

James Joyce
(1882 – 1941)

by Steve King

On this day in 1934, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld an earlier ruling allowing James Joyce’s Ulysses into America. This enabled Random House to issue the first U.S. edition, over a decade after Sylvia Beach’s original Paris edition; according to Random House editor Bennett Cerf, the case hinged entirely and hilariously upon one of these smuggled Beach editions.

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August 1, 2013

JK Rowling accepts damages from law firm that revealed her secret identity

callingJK Rowling has accepted damages at London’s High Court from a law firm which outed her as a crime author, after one of its lawyers confided her secret identity to his wife’s best friend.

By Alice Philipson

The Harry Potter author brought proceedings against Chris Gossage, who works for law firm Russells, and a friend of his, Judith Callegari.

Her solicitor, Jenny Afia, told Mr Justice Tugendhat that Rowling was revealed in the Sunday Times as the writer of crime novel The Cuckoo’s Calling, which was published under the name of Robert Galbraith.

A few days later, Russells contacted her agent disclosing that it was Mr Gossage who had divulged the confidential information to his wife’s best friend, Ms Callegari, during a private conversation. Ms Callegari later revealed the news in a public Twitter message to a Sunday Times journalist

Ms Afia said that Ms Rowling, who was not in court, “has been left dismayed and distressed by such a fundamental betrayal of trust”.

Mr Gossage, Ms Callegari and Russells all apologised, with the firm agreeing to reimburse Ms Rowling’s legal costs and make a payment, by way of damages, to the Soldiers’ Charity, formerly the Army Benevolent Fund.

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Stephen King’s Family Business


Life in Maine, where Stephen King has spent most of his adult years, requires long drives down country roads, time that King, whose mind is restless, likes to fill by listening to books on tape. In the ’80s, however, he sometimes could not find the books he wanted on tape — or maybe he just did not bother. He had three children: Naomi, Joe and Owen. They could read, couldn’t they? All King had to do was press record. Which is how his school-age children came to furnish their father, over the years, with a small library’s worth of books on tape.

On a drizzly morning in July, King, his wife and their children gathered in Maine for a reunion the week of the Fourth and compared notes on what constituted chores in the King household. As they talked, they were crowded around a rather small kitchen table in a lakeside guesthouse, where King’s 41-year-old son, Joe Hill, was staying, a short drive from the family’s summer home.

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