"A brilliant, original approach to literature, a key to Calvino's own work and a thoroughly delightful and illuminating commentary on some of the world's greatest writing."--San Francisco Chronicle
At the time of his death, Italo Calvino was at work on six lectures setting forth the qualities in writing he most valued, and which he believed would define literature in the century to come. Here, in Six Memos for the Next Millennium, are the five lectures he completed, forming not only a stirring defense of literature, but also an indispensable guide to the writings of Calvino himself. He devotes one "memo" each to the concepts of lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, and multiplicity, drawing examples from his vast knowledge of myth, folklore, and works both ancient and modern. Readers will be astonished by the prescience of these lectures, which have only gained in relevance as Calvino's "next millennium" has dawned.
Hailed by Publishers Weekly as "not only the best writing on the ever-changing folk singer, but also some of the best writing about any musician around," Studio A presents Bob Dylan's unique literary legacy in a collection that is quintessentially Dylan: mosaic, offbeat, poetic. This "astutely chosen and intelligently annotated" collection (Time Out London) gathers over fifty articles, poems, essays, speeches, literary criticisms, and interviews; many previously unpublished. Individually, these pieces offer insight into the man and his time, but collectively they reveal the coming-of-age of American cultural criticism in their "sweeping view of both Dylan and the changing times he so eloquently captured in his music" (Publishers Weekly). With Sam Shepard, Bruce Springsteen, Allen Ginsberg, Johnny Cash, Greil Marcus, Joyce Carol Oates, Gary Giddins, Rick Moody, Tom Piazza, Barry Hannah, and Dylan himself on the list of contributors, Studio A is truly "a vital document" (New York Times) for all fans.
"Comfort, of course, is the last thing that Watts wants to give." --New York Review of Science Fiction Which of the following is true?
Fiction imagines for us a stopping point from which life can be seen as intelligible," asserts Joan Silber in The Art of Time in Fiction. The end point of a story determines its meaning, and one of the main tasks a writer faces is to define the duration of a plot. Silber uses wide-ranging examples from F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chinua Achebe, and Arundhati Roy, among others, to illustrate five key ways in which time unfolds in fiction. In clear-eyed prose, Silber elucidates a tricky but vital aspect of the art of fiction.
"When I think of my plays as a body of work, I always hope that they reflect how a group of people live at a certain time." - Wendy Wasserstein Playwright Wendy Wasserstein is, above all, a social historian. Balancing drama and comedy to write about social class in Manhattan and about Jewish-American identity, she drew inspiration from Chekhov and the comedies of S. Behrman, Moss Hart, and Noel Coward. The ideas of Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer, Gloria Steinem, and Susan Faludi also inform Wasserstein's work, which chronicles the rise and the eventual collapse of both feminism and liberalism between the late 1960s and the earliest years of the 21st century. From the first waves of feminism to the post-feminist generation, Jan Balakian's essays place Wendy Wasserstein's seven major plays, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Heidi Chronicles, in a historical context, showing a connection between the evolution of the women's movement in America and the conflicts within her plays. Balakian's interviews with the playwright before her death in 2006, and conversations with Wasserstein's close friends, playwright Chris Durang and director Dan Sullivan, all lend further insight into Wasserstein's political concerns. Balakian's access to handwritten pages from Wasserstein's notebooks at the Wasserstein archives at Mount Holyoke also provides readers a window into the playwright's creative process. Features 50 black-and-white illustrations, including handwritten pages from Wendy Wasserstein's notebooks
No art has been denounced as often as poetry. It's even bemoaned by poets: "I, too, dislike it," wrote Marianne Moore. "Many more people agree they hate poetry," Ben Lerner writes, "than can agree what poetry is. I, too, dislike it and have largely organized my life around it and do not experience that as a contradiction because poetry and the hatred of poetry are inextricable in ways it is my purpose to explore."
In this inventive and lucid essay, Lerner takes the hatred of poetry as the starting point of his defense of the art. He examines poetry's greatest haters (beginning with Plato's famous claim that an ideal city had no place for poets, who would only corrupt and mislead the young) and both its greatest and worst practitioners, providing inspired close readings of Keats, Dickinson, McGonagall, Whitman, and others. Throughout, he attempts to explain the noble failure at the heart of every truly great and truly horrible poem: the impulse to launch the experience of an individual into a timeless communal existence. In The Hatred of Poetry, Lerner has crafted an entertaining, personal, and entirely original examination of a vocation no less essential for being impossible.
A riveting account of the two years literary scholar Mikita Brottman spent reading literature with criminals in a maximum-security men's prison outside Baltimore, and what she learned from them--Orange Is the New Black meets Reading Lolita in Tehran.
On sabbatical from teaching literature to undergraduates, and wanting to educate a different kind of student, Mikita Brottman starts a book club with a group of convicts from the Jessup Correctional Institution in Maryland. She assigns them ten dark, challenging classics--including Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Shakespeare's Macbeth, Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Poe's story "The Black Cat," and Nabokov's Lolita--books that don't flinch from evoking the isolation of the human struggle, the pain of conflict, and the cost of transgression. Although Brottman is already familiar with these works, the convicts open them up in completely new ways. Their discussions may "only" be about literature, but for the prisoners, everything is at stake.
Gradually, the inmates open up about their lives and families, their disastrous choices, their guilt and loss. Brottman also discovers that life in prison, while monotonous, is never without incident. The book club members struggle with their assigned reading through solitary confinement; on lockdown; in between factory shifts; in the hospital; and in the middle of the chaos of blasting televisions, incessant chatter, and the constant banging of metal doors.
Though The Maximum Security Book Club never loses sight of the moral issues raised in the selected reading, it refuses to back away from the unexpected insights offered by the company of these complex, difficult men. It is a compelling, thoughtful analysis of literature--and prison life--like nothing you've ever read before.
Ever wondered why little children love listening to stories, why older ones get lost in certain books? In this enthralling work, Maria Tatar challenges many of our assumptions about childhood reading. Much as our culture pays lip service to the importance of literature, we rarely examine the creative and cognitive benefits of reading from infancy through adolescence. By exploring how beauty and horror operated in C.S. Lewis s Chronicles of Narnia, Philip Pullman s His Dark Materials, J.K. Rowling s Harry Potter novels, and many other narratives, Tatar provides a delightful work for parents, teachers, and general readers, not just examining how and what children read but also showing through vivid examples how literature transports and transforms children with its intoxicating, captivating, and occasionally terrifying energy. In the tradition of Bruno Bettelheim s landmark The Uses of Enchantment, Tatar s book is not only a compelling journey into the world of childhood but a trip back for adult readers as well."
America's most provocative intellectual brings her blazing powers of analysis to the most famous poems of the Western tradition--and unearths some previously obscure verses worthy of a place in our canon. Combining close reading with a panoramic breadth of learning, Camille Paglia sharpens our understanding of poems we thought we knew, from Shakespeare to Dickinson to Plath, and makes a case for including in the canon works by Paul Blackburn, Wanda Coleman, Chuck Wachtel, Rochelle Kraut--and even Joni Mitchell. Daring, riveting, and beautifully written, Break, Blow, Burn is a modern classic that excites even seasoned poetry lovers--and continues to create generations of new ones.