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April 18, 2014

Gabriel García Márquez, Conjurer of Literary Magic, Dies at 87

Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian novelist whose “One Hundred Years of Solitude” established him as a giant of 20th-century literature, died on Thursday at his home in Mexico City. He was 87.

Cristóbal Pera, his former editor at Random House, confirmed the death. Mr. García Márquez learned he had lymphatic cancer in 1999, and a brother said in 2012 that he had developed senile dementia.

Mr. García Márquez, who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, wrote fiction rooted in a mythical Latin American landscape of his own creation, but his appeal was universal. His books were translated into dozens of languages. He was among a select roster of canonical writers — Dickens, Tolstoy and Hemingway among them — who were embraced both by critics and by a mass audience.

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April 15, 2014

Students Reading E-Books Are Losing Out, Study Suggests

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January 27, 2014

Reading Books Is Fundamental

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — Bookblurb @ 8:23 am
Charles M. Blow

Charles M. Blow

The first thing I can remember buying for myself, aside from candy, of course, was not a toy. It was a book.

It was a religious picture book about Job from the Bible, bought at Kmart.

It was on one of the rare occasions when my mother had enough money to give my brothers and me each a few dollars so that we could buy whatever we wanted.

We all made a beeline for the toy aisle, but that path led through the section of greeting cards and books. As I raced past the children’s books, they stopped me. Books to me were things most special. Magical. Ideas eternalized.

Books were the things my brothers brought home from school before I was old enough to attend, the things that engrossed them late into the night as they did their homework. They were the things my mother brought home from her evening classes, which she attended after work, to earn her degree and teaching certificate.

Books, to me, were powerful and transformational.

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November 21, 2013

‘Good Lord Bird’ Is Surprise Winner for National Book Award in Fiction

Good Lord BirdBy JULIE BOSMAN

James McBride won the National Book Award on Wednesday night for “The Good Lord Bird,” an irreverent, sharp-eyed novel narrated by an escaped slave. It was published by Riverhead Books, part of Penguin Random House.

Taking the stage with a stunned expression, Mr. McBride, who was considered an underdog in speculation before the awards, said he had not bothered to write a speech.

Mr. McBride wrote the book amid personal tragedies, he said, naming the deaths of his mother and his niece, and the unraveling of his marriage.

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November 18, 2013

Doris Lessing, Author Who Swept Aside Convention, Is Dead at 94

By HELEN T. VERONGOS

dorisDoris Lessing, the uninhibited and outspoken novelist who won the 2007 Nobel Prize for a lifetime of writing that shattered convention, both social and artistic, died on Sunday at her home in London. She was 94.

Her death was confirmed by her publisher, HarperCollins.

Ms. Lessing produced dozens of novels, short stories, essays and poems, drawing on a childhood in the Central African bush, the teachings of Eastern mystics and involvement with grass-roots Communist groups. She embarked on dizzying and, at times, stultifying literary experiments.

But it was her breakthrough novel, “The Golden Notebook,” a structurally inventive and loosely autobiographical tale, that remained her best-known work. The 1962 book was daring in its day for its frank exploration of the inner lives of women who, unencumbered by marriage, were free to raise children, or not, and pursue work and their sex lives as they chose. The book dealt openly with topics like menstruation and orgasm, as well as with the mechanics of emotional breakdown.

Her editor at HarperCollins, Nicholas Pearson, said on Sunday that “The Golden Notebook” had been a handbook for a whole generation.

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August 1, 2013

Stephen King’s Family Business

hillBy  SUSAN DOMINUS

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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June 20, 2013

The Resurgence of the Short Story: The Smallest of Entryways and Cristen Hemingway Jaynes

By K.J. Wetherholt

Cristen Hemingway Jaynes

Cristen Hemingway Jaynes

“When well told, a story captured the subtle movement of change. If a novel was a map of a country, a story was the bright silver pin that marked the crossroads.” — Ann Patchett

In a February 15, 2013 article for The New York Times, Leslie Kaufman noted the recognition of a trend that many among the literary world are currently embracing: the digital age in publishing has brought back what Neil Gaiman once described as “the novel’s wayward younger brother” — the short stories that most might otherwise have relegated to the memory of literature classes in high school or college.

Many of us remember these shorter works by literary masters: among them Henry James, Edgar Allan Poe, Ernest Hemingway–or in more contemporary times, noted authors such as Jim Harrison, George Saunders or Louise Erdrich, whose works, if not read in literary magazines, journals, or such publications as Esquire and The New Yorker, are instead placed in short story collections that rely almost wholly on the author’s name recognition for sales.

However, with the recent prevalence of Kindle, Nook, and other digital reading devices, short fiction has started to return as an acceptable, and salable form, in fact bringing back the form with a power and a popular respectability it has not had for some time.

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May 27, 2013

A Writing Class Focused on Goodbyes

By CHADWICK MOORE
“The suicide note — and I’m being deadly earnest — is moving, strange, harrowing and peculiar literature,” said Simon Critchley, an author and philosophy professor at the New School. “People’s interest in them is almost pornographic.”

Mr. Critchley was teaching a class billed as a “Suicide Note Writing Workshop,” part of a monthlong series of performances, installations and lectures called the School of Death and sponsored by Cabinet Magazineand the Family Business exhibition space on West 21st Street. The glass doors to his storefront classroom were flung open to the chilly rain falling outside, inviting passers-by to stop, listen, and sometimes contribute to the discussion.

The pop-up school came about as a smart-alecky reaction to a program in London called the School of Life, which Mr. Critchley described as “a particularly nauseating philosophy of self-help.”

“It’s also a way of mocking creative-writing workshops,” Mr. Critchley, 53, said. “We’re not mocking suicide. We’re doing this as a way to understand it. And why not be a little insensitive? People are terrified in talking about death.”

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May 20, 2013

At Scott and Zelda’s Final Resting Place, Gatsby Lives

Author Francis Scott Fitzgerald in an undated photo.

Author Francis Scott Fitzgerald in an undated photo.

By Michael Winship

With all the fanfare around the new movie version of The Great Gatsby, directed by Baz Luhrmann with a screenplay by Luhrmann and Craig Pearce, it’s a great time to go back to the book and be reminded of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s elegant, graceful writing; so fragile and yes, unique, that it may never really be brought successfully to the screen.A good time, too, to be reminded of how the book’s depiction of conspicuous consumption during the Jazz Age of the 1920s — and the stark contrast between rich and poor — so parallel life in New York today, where, as The New York Times reported last year, “The poverty rate reached its highest point in more than a decade, and the income gap in Manhattan, already wider than almost anywhere else in the country, rivaled disparities in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Daisy Buchanan, the object of Gatsby’s desire, and her husband Tom would feel at home in the 1% world of overindulgence and profligacy. As Fitzgerald famously described them:

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May 16, 2013

The E-Book Piracy Debate, Revisited

By David Pogue

The other day, I saw an interesting announcement from Tor Books UK, a publisher of science fiction and fantasy.

One year ago, the company tried a remarkable experiment: it dropped copy protection from its e-books.

Now, there are two batches of common wisdom. Most publishers, of course, think that strategy is insane. If you’re a publisher, copy protection is all that stops the pirates from freely circulating your goods. Your revenue will crash. Maybe you’ll go out of business.

But there’s another school of thought, which says that nobody pirates software except cash-poor kids who wouldn’t have bought it anyway. This school maintains that if your books are fairly priced and conveniently sold, people will happily pay for them.

Some in this school even maintain that removing copy protection leads to more sales, because your customers get a taste of your wares. They learn just how good your stuff is — and next time, they pay.

But in general, all of this is just opinion badminton. There have been very few experiments to test which camp is correct.

Which brings us to Tor’s announcement. The crucial line: “We’ve seen no discernible increase in piracy on any of our titles.”

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