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.
How to Read Novels Like a Professor is a lively and entertaining guide to understanding and dissecting novels, making reading more enriching and satisfying. In the follow up to his wildly popular How to Read Literature Like a Professor, Thomas C. Foster provides students with tried-and-true techniques to use in analyzing some of the most important works in literary history. How to Read Novels Like a Professor shows readers how to consider and a novel's historical fine points as well as major themes, literary models (the Bible, Shakespeare, Greek mythology, and fairy tales), and narrative devices like irony, plot, and symbol."By bringing his eminent scholarship to bear in doses measured for the common reader or occasional student, Professor Foster has done us all a generous turn. The trained eye, the tuned ear, the intellect possesed of simple cyphers brings the literary arts alive."-Thomas Lynch, author of The Undertaking
For more than a decade, the book that literary critics now consider the most important novel in the English language was illegal to own, sell, advertise or purchase in most of the English-speaking world. James Joyce s big blue book, Ulysses, ushered in the modernist era and changed the novel for all time. But the genius of Ulysses was also its danger: it omitted absolutely nothing. All of the minutiae of Leopold Bloom s day, including its unspeakable details, unfold with careful precision in its pages. The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice immediately banned the novel as obscene, lewd, and lascivious. Joyce, along with some of the most important publishers and writers of his era, had to fight for years to win the freedom to publish it. The Most Dangerous Book tells the remarkable story surrounding Ulysses, from the first stirrings of Joyce s inspiration in 1904 to its landmark federal obscenity trial in 1933.
Literary historian Kevin Birmingham follows Joyce s years as a young writer, his feverish work on his literary masterpiece, and his ardent love affair with Nora Barnacle, the model for Molly Bloom. Joyce and Nora socialized with literary greats like Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, T. S. Eliot and Sylvia Beach. Their support helped Joyce fight an array of anti-vice crusaders while his book was disguised and smuggled, pirated and burned in the United States and Britain. The long struggle for publication added to the growing pressures of Joyce s deteriorating eyesight, finances and home life.
Salvation finally came from the partnership of Bennett Cerf, the cofounder of Random House, and Morris Ernst, a dogged civil liberties lawyer. With their stewardship, the case ultimately rested on the literary merit of Joyce s master work. The sixty-year-old judicial practices governing obscenity in the United States were overturned because a federal judge could get inside Molly Bloom s head.
Birmingham s archival work brings to light new information about both Joyce and the story surrounding Ulysses. Written for ardent Joyceans as well as novices who want to get to the heart of the greatest novel of the twentieth century, The Most Dangerous Book is a gripping examination of how the world came to say yes to Ulysses."
Sixty-five of the world's leading writers open up about the books and authors that have meant the most to them
Every Sunday, readers of The New York Times Book Review turn with anticipation to see which novelist, historian, short story writer, or artist will be the subject of the popular By the Book feature. These wide-ranging interviews are conducted by Pamela Paul, the editor of the Book Review, and here she brings together sixty-five of the most intriguing and fascinating exchanges, featuring personalities as varied as David Sedaris, Hilary Mantel, Michael Chabon, Khaled Hosseini, Anne Lamott, and James Patterson.
By the Book contains the full uncut interviews, offering a range of experiences and observations that deepens readers' understanding of the literary sensibility and the writing process. The questions and answers admit us into the private worlds of these authors, as they reflect on their work habits, reading preferences, inspirations, pet peeves, and recommendations.
For the devoted reader, By the Book is a way to invite sixty-five of the most interesting guests into your world. It's a book party not to be missed.
Featuring Conversations with . . .
Junot D az
J. K. Rowling
Alain de Botton
Neil deGrasse Tyson
. . . among others
Is a book the same book-or a reader the same reader-the second time around? The seventeen authors in this witty and poignant collection of essays all agree on the answer: Never.
The editor of "Rereadings" is Anne Fadiman, and readers of her bestselling book "Ex Libris" (FSG, 1998) will find this volume especially satisfying. Her chosen authors include Sven Birkerts, Allegra Goodman, Vivian Gornick, Patricia Hampl, Phillip Lopate, and Luc Sante; the objects of their literary affections range from "Pride and Prejudice" to "Sue Barton, Student Nurse." Each has selected a book or a story or a poem--or even, in one case, the lyrics on the back of the Sgt. Pepper album--that made a deep impression in his or her youth, and reread it to see how it has changed in the interim. (Of course, what has really changed is the reader.)
These essays are not conventional literary criticism; they are about relationships. The relationship between reader and book is a powerful one, and as these writers attest, it evolves over time. Rereadings reveals at least as much about the reader as about the book: each is a miniature memoir that focuses on that most interesting of topics, the protean nature of love. And as every bibliophile knows, no love is more life-changing than the love of a book.
An Entertainment Weekly and BookPage Best Book of the Year
During her treatment for cancer, Mary Anne Schwalbe and her son Will spent many hours sitting in waiting rooms together. To pass the time, they would talk about the books they were reading. Once, by chance, they read the same book at the same time--and an informal book club of two was born. Through their wide-ranging reading, Will and Mary Anne--and we, their fellow readers--are reminded how books can be comforting, astonishing, and illuminating, changing the way that we feel about and interact with the world around us. A profoundly moving memoir of caregiving, mourning, and love--The End of Your Life Book Club is also about the joy of reading, and the ways that joy is multiplied when we share it with others.
A richly illustrated cultural history of the midcentury pulp paperback
There is real hope for a culture that makes it as easy to buy a book as it does a pack of cigarettes.--a civic leader quoted in a New American Library ad (1951)
American Pulp tells the story of the midcentury golden age of pulp paperbacks and how they brought modernism to Main Street, democratized literature and ideas, spurred social mobility, and helped readers fashion new identities. Drawing on extensive original research, Paula Rabinowitz unearths the far-reaching political, social, and aesthetic impact of the pulps between the late 1930s and early 1960s.
Published in vast numbers of titles, available everywhere, and sometimes selling in the millions, pulps were throwaway objects accessible to anyone with a quarter. Conventionally associated with romance, crime, and science fiction, the pulps in fact came in every genre and subject. American Pulp tells how these books ingeniously repackaged highbrow fiction and nonfiction for a mass audience, drawing in readers of every kind with promises of entertainment, enlightenment, and titillation. Focusing on important episodes in pulp history, Rabinowitz looks at the wide-ranging effects of free paperbacks distributed to World War II servicemen and women; how pulps prompted important censorship and First Amendment cases; how some gay women read pulp lesbian novels as how-to-dress manuals; the unlikely appearance in pulp science fiction of early representations of the Holocaust; how writers and artists appropriated pulp as a literary and visual style; and much more. Examining their often-lurid packaging as well as their content, American Pulp is richly illustrated with reproductions of dozens of pulp paperback covers, many in color.
A fascinating cultural history, American Pulp will change the way we look at these ephemeral yet enduringly intriguing books.
With wit and wisdom, the bibliophile's Ebert & Roeper recommend more than 600 books based on what women care about most. Between the Covers is organized around their wide-ranging curiosity--about themselves, friends and family, the larger world--and their concerns, from health to sex to managing their finances. With such sections as "Babes We Love" (Role Models Real and Imagined), "The Babe Inside" (Focusing on Body and Soul), and "Love, Sex & Second Chances," this unique collection of fiction and nonfiction reflects how women really read.
Discussing a wide range of literary theory in a clear and accessible way, prize-winning author Robert Scholes here continues his ongoing construction of a humane semiotic approach to the problems of reading, writing, and teaching. Taking the view that "all the world's a text," Scholes considers numerous texts from life and literature, including photographs, paintings, and television commercials as well as biographies and novels.
"A significant and thoughtful effort to think about the responsibilities of reading in the wake of deconstruction."--Choice
Protocols of Reading is a personal, avuncular book, attractive in its common sense and brevity."--Wendy Steiner, Times Literary Supplement
"A complex argument developed in delightful plain English, Protocols of Reading sees both textual fundamentalism and deconstructive debunking as needful opposites in an oscillation that Scholes labels nihilistic hermeneutics. Fine-tuning this oscillation is what the humanistic enterprise is all about, he suggests; it is our key to the true connection between reading and ethics."--Richard A. Lanham, University of California, Los Angeles
Robert Scholes, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Humanities at Brown University, is also the author of Textual Power: Literary Theory and the Teaching of English; Semiotics and Interpretation; and Structuralism in Literature: An Introduction
Essays and critical writings on contemporary poetry by Stephen Burt, "the finest critic of his generation" (Lucie Brock-Broido)
Stephen Burt's Close Calls with Nonsense provokes readers into the elliptical worlds of Rae Armantrout, Paul Muldoon, C. D. Wright, and other contemporary poets whose complexities make them challenging, original, and, finally, readable. Burt's intelligence and enthusiasm introduce both tentative and longtime poetry readers to the rewards of reading new poetry. As Burt writes in the title essay: "The poets I know don't want to be famous people half so much as they want their best poems read; I want to help you find and read them. I write here for people who want to read more new poetry but somehow never get around to it; for people who enjoy Seamus Heaney or Elizabeth Bishop and want to know what next; for people who enjoy John Ashbery or Anne Carson but aren't sure why; and, especially, for people who read the half-column poems in glossy magazines and ask, 'Is that all there is?'"