In 1845, a critic for the patrician North British Review decried [the work of Charles Dickens] as an unhealthy alternative to conversation or to games like cricket or backgammon. Anticipating Huxley and Bradbury by a century, he railed against the multiplying effects of serialization on the already hallucinatory powers of the novel:
The form of publication of Mr. Dickens’s works must be attended with bad consequences. The reading of a novel is not now the undertaking it once was, a thing to be done occasionally on holiday and almost by stealth … It throws us into a state of unreal excitement, a trance, a dream, which we should be allowed to dream out, and then be sent back to the atmosphere of reality again, cured by our brief surfeit of the desire to indulge again soon in the same delirium of feverish interest. But now our dreams are mingled with our daily business.
Frank Rose, The Art of Immersion (via thenotes)
Q: I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you? Her outlook is almost unbearably grim.
A: For heaven’s sake, what kind of question is that? Would you want to be friends with Humbert Humbert? Would you want to be friends with Mickey Sabbath? Saleem Sinai? Hamlet? Krapp? Oedipus? Oscar Wao? Antigone? Raskolnikov? Any of the characters in The Corrections? Any of the characters in Infinite Jest? Any of the characters in anything Pynchon has ever written? Or Martin Amis? Or Orhan Pamuk? Or Alice Munro, for that matter? If you’re reading to find friends, you’re in deep trouble. We read to find life, in all its possibilities. The relevant question isn’t “is this a potential friend for me?” but “is this character alive?”
(Claire Messud gave Publishers Weekly the answer it deserved last week. She’s on the show tomorrow. Tune in to see what answers she gives Terry!)
I am so excited and proud to finally be able to announce to you that my YA novel, Vivian Versus the Apocalypse, has been named a winner of the Young Writers Prize and will be published by Hot Key Books in September of this year. Behold, the cover art!:
And the synopsis!:
VIVIAN VERSUS THE APOCALYPSE is a chilling vision of a contemporary USA where the sinister Church of America is destroying lives. Our cynical protagonist, seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple, is awaiting the fated ‘Rapture’ – or rather the lack of it. Her evangelical parents have been in the Church’s thrall for too long, and she’s looking forward to getting them back. Except that when Vivian arrives home the day after the supposed ‘Rapture’, her parents are gone. All that is left are two holes in the ceiling…
Many congratulations to my fellow winner, Joe Ducie, whose novel The Rig sounds insane and exciting. I am so grateful to the judging panel (including Will Hill, who writes really kindly about my and Joe’s novels at his blog) for enjoying this story that I so loved writing. AND it is surreal and wonderful to be working with Hot Key Books, which—as far as I can tell—is comprised of the most enthusiastic, dedicated, brilliant group of book-loving people in the galaxy. Here is the full press release! Here is an article about it in The Guardian! AND here is the first chapter, for your reading pleasure! What is even happening?!
You guys, September 2013 is shaping up to be the best month of my life. Champagne for everybody from now until forever.
He sat astonished in front of the menu, as if he had never seen one before. There were pages of dead things—cows, shrimps, pigs, oysters, lambs—stretched out like a casualty list, accompanied by a brief description of how they had been treated since they died—skewered, grilled, smoked, and boiled. Christ, if they thought he was going to eat these things they must be mad.
He had seen the dark blood from the neck of a sheep gushing into the dry grass. The busy flies. The stench of offal. He had heard the roots tearing as he eased a carrot out of the ground. Any living man squatted on a mound of corruption, cruelty, filth, and blood.
If only his body would turn into a pane of glass, the fleshless interval between two spaces, knowing both but belonging to neither, then he would be set free from the gross and savage debt he owed to the rest of nature.
Edward St. Aubyn, Bad News (via thenotes)
Total: 43 (Damn it! Didn’t make my goal. I was kind of lazy and distracted this year.)
Also polished off A Series of Unfortunate Events, Updike’s four Rabbit novels, and almost (but not quite) the Chronicles of Narnia.
I’m so bored with The Silver Chair, the only reason I’m still reading is the possibility that Eustace and Jill will be eaten by giants.
C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Continuing the tradition of feeling overwhelming affection in my cold, dead heart only for tertiary characters in fantasy epics (cf.)