So I started reading the "Legacy of the Aldenata" books of John Ringo, and halfway through book three ("When the devil dances") I lost interest in it. Nonetheless, I would like to know how it all got resolved in the end, but couldn't get good spoilers on the Net. Now, how did the humans defeat those 12 billion Possleens on Earth, did they clash with the Darhel about their sinister plans, are they taking the fight to the Possleens, what happened to Michael O'Neil, any high points, please enlighten me!
What are good layman-level books and articles on how the brain interprets narratives (books, television, or any other form of story)? [more inside]
I signed up for a senior-year seminar class for prose fiction. My GPA cannot suffer. I'm willing to learn anything and everything on the subject. Book recommendations are also appreciated. (English TAs and Profs are preferred! You are the next best thing to Literary Gods)
I'm trying to remember a short story I read years ago, in school probably, about alien archaeologists examining the only remains of earth after glaciers killed the last humans. [more inside]
What elements of Arab culture (history, fashion, calligraphy, ...), including literature, would you choose to build a fantasy or sci-fi world (or any other type of word) that you'd like to visit time and again? [more inside]
I'm watching a documentary on Netflix called "New York in the 50's" about poets, journalists, and free thinkers in the Village during the Eisenhower administration. The interviewees keep referencing a self-conscious attempt to emulate life in Paris in the 1920s. So two questions come to mind: 1) Where is this occurring today? Does it only appear in hindsight? Accordingly, 2) Where else have such flowerings occurred? Paris in 1848? Prague in 1968? Has the internet made this kind of location-based creativity irrelevant?
Which writers and artists self-consciously regard their work as a deliberate, mystical diving into and charting of the depths of the unconscious mind? Cites/links to evidence of these views, either within their work or outside it in interviews, etc., would be much appreciated.
When there are a lot of editions of a foreign book available, how do you go about finding and choosing a good translation? [more inside]
This quote is all over the internet with conflicting attributions. Can you help me identify the original source? "You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving..." [more inside]
Is there a story in the Bible or elsewhere in literature or myth about a person who wants to do many things, but is thwarted, by all sorts of forces, and ends up doing only one? [more inside]
As I approach my fifties and confront the reality that parts of my body are wearing out and will never be young and resilient again, I turn to the arts for deeper philosophical understanding of this aspect of the human condition that I am facing. I'd like recommendations of fictional treatments of physical aging which are realistic but compassionate. Guidelines and caveats behind the fold. [more inside]
How critical was being continually physically present for readings, signings, interviews and other events to the success of a book? Was most of your successful promotional efforts in the first year online or over the phone? [more inside]
Hi There! I'm trying to contact Tom Robbins about possibly doing a musical adaptation of one of his books. Anyone know who his agent is or how to get in touch with his peoples? THANKS!!!
My lovely wife and I are traveling to Peru in early September. We're looking for novels and stories (maybe poetry too?) that will give us a feel for what things are like there. [more inside]
Many translated Japanese novels refer to locations and companies, and occasionally even years, by their first character rather than specifying their name. What is the reason for this practice? [more inside]
Can you recommend novels, short stories or even biographies that might help me overcome my fear, distrust and occasional feelings of downright hatred towards men? [more inside]
I'm looking for examples of short stories that have two oscillating storylines that ultimately intersect. I mean two different characters on two different trajectories whose paths ultimately cross. This is a frequent structure in novels, but I'm looking for short stories where this is done. I'm sure Alice Munro has done it, but I can't think of examples off the top of my head. Anyone know of any?
What is this short story I read sometime in the late 1990s? Plot involved two teenage girls in the 1960s, Beatlemania, and the terrifying truths of growing up. [more inside]
Looking for quality, regularly-updated web content as an alternative to the potpourri discussion-based sites that usually make up my day online. [more inside]
I'm teaching high school-level English next year for students who need a high level of academic support and I want the class to be both highly engaging and content-rich. If you were a kid who LOATHED writing for school, struggled with boring English classes, or can remember what elements you truly enjoyed in your high school English class, what advice would you pass my way? [more inside]
I'm looking for examples from fiction of multiple conversations happening at once, between at least three different people. The more complex the conversation, the better. Better still if it's from a known author.
I have an interest in literary theory but have never really had the time to study it fully. Please help me expand my awareness :-) [more inside]
My honors student is planning out her thesis and is looking for enjoyable short stories (that are in the public domain, preferably) that end in a twist. Details (and a few spoilers!) inside. [more inside]
After getting really into Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series, I'm looking for similar reading material. Can y'all recommend other sci-fi novels featuring a predominantly female cast?
I'm interested in reading English literature between Chaucer and Shakespeare and would like suggestions. [more inside]
The library of my childhood had a book of fairy tales which I remember fondly but not in very much detail. I remember only one of the stories - perhaps it will ring a bell with someone? [more inside]
Next week, I am taking the Empire Builder from Chicago to Portland, Oregon. In a previous question about train travel, someone suggested reading books that take place along your train route. This is an idea I love ... and I have at least 47 hours to pass! So: what are your favorite (kindle) books which occur in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, or Oregon? Bonus for rural themes. I am not a big mystery fan, but if it is particularly excellent, I'll read it. Romance is out. Otherwise, I'm open to anything!
I'm teaching an introductory course on prose fiction (reading, not writing). What fun post-1900 novel should I put on the syllabus? Should be intelligent, but needn't necessarily be, you know, Literary. [more inside]
How do I craft beautiful sentences? [more inside]
I'm self-publishing a set of short stories on Kindle, and need to choose search terms, which are critical for helping new readers stumble upon my book. However, most examples I see are for either non-fiction, self-help type books, or genre fiction. All I've come up with are overly broad descriptors like "everyday heroes," or ridiculously specific ones like "pediatric nurse kills alligator by hacking gasoline generator." Is there some sort of middle ground, or perhaps a genre term I'm unfamiliar with? [more inside]
I love conversing with people who know history and are sparkling, highly opinionated storytellers. Often these are foreigners or emigrants speaking about their country. They're unafraid to draw sharp, outspoken conclusions that frame major situations (e.g. that some leader was an incompetent fool or that an accident of geography is what will ensure conflict between two groups continues). What are some book equivalents of that conversational experience? They can be on any period or region. I do not want a magisterial treatise. I want a keen-eyed, slicing talk with someone really well-informed and cynical over several drinks who's gonna say what's what.
I am looking for recommendations of great dystopian novels, novellas, and short stories. Any length will do! [more inside]
You often hear people say things like "When in Rome" or "Great Minds" when people are generally meaning, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." or "Great minds think alike." Is there an actual literary term for these clipped or shortened idioms?
After finishing Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "Americanah," and thinking about how I loved Zadie Smith's "White Teeth," and Hanif Kureishi's "Buddha of Suburbia," I'm finding I want to read more immigration/diaspora/post-colonial literature. Please help me build a lifetime reading list. All geographies welcome. I am very deliberately trying to read more women authors in 2014 and beyond, too.
After browsing John Comenius' Orbis Sensualium Pictus (per this fine Mefi post), I came across this curiously worded statement in the The Fruits of the Earth section: [more inside]
I want to cry my eyes out over a book. It's been a long time since I have and I need the catharsis. [more inside]
Seeking literary fiction with a transient, often solitary, female hero, please! [more inside]
I have an odd job interview coming up. I need advise on a children's book to read to a grown up audience and a two minute poem or "fun" monologue to recite. I think it'd be best if these related to the joy of learning or science. For the book, I might just read part of "Corduroy" because its beautiful and sweet, but what about the other requirement? [more inside]
RecoFilter: I'm looking for recommendations of books, preferably in the sci-fi/fantasy genres, that have a 'big reveal' somewhere in there that changes the whole perspective of the book or protagonist. Examples would be The Inverted World, The Prestige, or Ender's Game, for example, or the first Star Trek film, or some Lovecraft stories — the whole thing, and all events narrated, appear in a different light after, you know? [more inside]
I'm in grad school and am writing a literature review as part of my capstone project. I have done a lot of initial research and have created awesome annotated bibliographies - it's just not enough, though. [more inside]
Korova. Chalmun's. Venusville. Strangefellows. What other terrible bars exist in fiction, fantasy and literature?
Help me find books that convey a jolly feeling of appreciation for the wonders of modern life. Ideally these would be books that have a sci-fi or fantasy feel, but in which nothing overtly magical or fantastic happens. The best recent examples I can think of are Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, which has all the elements of a fantasy novel but is set squarely in our world, and William Gibson's most recent novels, all of which feel fantastic to me but are grounded in real life. [more inside]
Does The Scarlet Letter belong to a literary genre? How would publishers market the book today, and on what book shelf would you find it in the book store? Same question for The Brothers Karamazov. Could these stories, if they were told in a prose style indicative of the 21st c, find a publisher?
After reading a recommendation here for the utterly delightful Ms. Rumphius, I started thinking about kids books about travel that I used to enjoy. When I was a kid I loved a picture book about a kingdom where everyone had to wear black all the time because the prince or princess had died and the kingdom was in mourning, and an apprentice tailor traveled the world by boat and learned about clothing in different cultures and eventually came home and made beautiful colorful clothing for everyone in the kingdom and the sadness over the kingdom was lifted. I have searched and searched and can't remember anything more about it. Can anyone remember? It was a lovely book and I would like to share it with my daughter.
For an upcoming project I'm putting together what's meant to be a comprehensive timeline of important (even "necessary") works of American science fiction since the late 19th century. [more inside]
Which articles or books, in English, detail the editorial challenges, contradictions, and ambiguities posed by the competing versions of Proust's Albertine disparue (The Fugitive/Albertine Gone)? [more inside]
I'm thinking about starting up a podcast. It would be, for the most part, deep interpretations of Biblical texts from a critical but appreciative point of view. What should I call it? [more inside]
I'm looking to find a few very short, preferably one-act, plays that are appropriate for students 14-18. Classics are OK, but I'm definitely more interested in stuff that's more contemporary (post-45?). [more inside]
The movies and films I have in mind are: A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean, Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, and The Thin Red Line by Terrence Malick (though many of his films would count). The "technical" definition of grace is such that I'm not entirely sure that's an accurate description of what it is that I see that joins these movies together, but it is certainly something present or mentioned in all three. The things that stick out to me are things such as: forgiveness, that nature is perhaps closer to God(liness), that there is grace/beauty in life despite some of the bad things in it. Do you know of any films and books that might be considered related to my above group given what I've tried to describe?
Where can I go to find publicly accessible (preferably online) and well-thought-out basic interpretations and commentary on books? I don't mean reviews, and I don't mean ultra-scholarly theoretical or historical work. I mean commentary and explanation. For example, if I just read The Trial and I wanted to know what some of the standard opinions about its meaning were, where could I reliably go?