Tag Archives: literature

What Do You Do When The Things You Love Don’t Match Up With Your Politics?

I already knew, without acknowledging it, exactly, that Kurt Vonnegut and women were an awkward mix at best. Kurt Vonnegut didn’t write women well — he wrote women who weren’t fully people, exactly, but more a physical manifestation of the mystery women seemed to him to be. It’s not to say that he didn’t get along well with women in real life. There was just a lot missing in his characters. Mona Aamons Monzano from Cat’s Cradle, for instance, is practically a demi-god, more an embodiment of the narrator John’s checklist of things to desire in a woman than a real woman. Vonnegut was acute enough to be self-conscious of that, and write it into the narration, albeit uncritically. Mona gives of herself, of her body, as a matter of course, and doesn’t act in anything even approaching a self-concerned way until the very end. I loved her for talking back and standing for her principles in an impossible situation. I’m not sure if that’s something Vonnegut wrote or something I gleaned out of Vonnegut’s writing. Keep reading »

The New Zelda, The Future Of Video Games, And Empathy

EPIC

Despite the fact that I love video games, I don’t really keep up with news about them — I just kind of hear about games, play them, and if I like them, keep playing them. So I didn’t know about the preview of the upcoming Zelda game that aired on the Game Awards on the 5th of this month until yesterday. Forgive me, Frisky readers, but I need to nerd out about this for a second. When my boyfriend showed me the preview, I was sitting on the couch with my jaw on the floor grinning like an idiot for four minutes while we watched the clip, and then afterward I launched into a short lecture on player demand for realism in the Zelda games and the compromises Nintendo is making to have a realistic-feeling game without sacrificing the fantasy-inspired design the series has always embraced. Keep reading »

Read The Cringe-Worthy Passage That Won The Bad Sex In Fiction Award

I am by no means a prude, but I’m more than happy to admit that reading sex scenes in fiction (or nonfiction, for that matter) skeeves me out a little. OK, a lot. I’m more on the “exhibitionist” end of the spectrum than the “voyeur” end, I guess.

Anyway, if you’re like me, get ready to cringe at the passage that won Ben Okri’s The Age of Magic the annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award from Britain’s Literary Review: Keep reading »

No, George R.R. Martin Hasn’t Finished The Song Of Ice And Fire Books Yet

Theories abound about George R.R. Martin’s plans for the Song of Ice and Fire series, and therefore the Game of Thrones series, but Martin says that the most ridiculous theory of all is that he’s actually finished with the last two books of the series and is sitting on them to create demand. At the 92nd Street Y event for the release of the World of Ice and Fire companion book to the series, Martin said:

“From my point of view, the craziest one is the people who believe that I’ve actually finished all of the books, and I’m just sitting on them for some reason in order to get more money or increase the value, you know, to release them an appropriate point. That’s a pretty crazy one, but there seem to be people who actually believe that.”

Keep reading »

The Best Tweets Of #ReaderGate (So Far)

Writer Tauriq Moosa tweeted out a link to a conversation he’d had about PS4 specs and firmware versus XBox One on a gaming web site, saying, “at least this is back to boring console dick measurements — not yelling about women.” A follower tweeted back to him wondering what it would look like if #GamerGate had happened to the publishing industry, and from there #ReaderGate was spawned and hilarity ensued. Keep reading »

Amazon Released A List Of Its Most Popular Kindle Highlights

Kindle’s popular highlights are pretty much the only reason I would have to read anything on a Kindle anymore. I have successfully boycotted Amazon for books and most other things for the last several months, but I still find myself amazed at the popular highlights, mostly because of their extraordinary mediocrity. I’m pretty sure that most people just highlight something popular because they see that other people have highlighted it, and they think that necessarily means it’s important — and I’m pretty sure that there has to be a cadre of people who are trolling the popular highlights. Some of the highlights in the Song of Ice and Fire books just made no damn sense. There were whole passages of “Hodor Hodor Hodor” that got highlighted by at least tens of readers.

In any event, Amazon released a list of the most popular highlights of all Kindle books, and while most of them are insightful or at least novel on their own (which IMO is the point of highlighting? I could be wrong), others, isolated from their context, don’t make much sense. For example, from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:

“THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED!”roared Black. “DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS, AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!”

Also — nitpicky, but whatever — the passage of The Hunger Games in which the rules of the Hunger Games are explained isn’t particularly useful. Like, would you quote that in a paper? (I say no, you could paraphrase and cut down your quoted word count.) Would you come back to it as guidance later on? The book hammers the rules home throughout the narrative, so it’s not like you’re needing a reminder. It doesn’t give you any insight about Katniss, it’s just exposition. And yet it’s one of the most popular highlights on Kindle.

Of course, all of this is coming from a woman who does this to books she loves…

…So take from that what you will. I’m just looking at this list and going, all right, these are the most popular highlights on Kindle, but what does it tell us about our reading habits or what makes great literature? I’m just going to hazard a guess: I think that highlighting on Kindle is more a way for the reader to feel like they’re interacting with a real book than it is a method people use for critical reading or even, necessarily, to mark ideas they think are profound or want to come back to. I also think that it’s a way of feeling like you’re part of a reading community (ergo highlighting merely because other people highlighted — I’m not going to pretend I haven’t done it). But I don’t really see that these are identifications of great writing, nor do I think they’re representative of what makes the novels included on the list as popular as they are.

To me this raises the question of how we read, especially how we read popular fiction. What’s your reading and highlighting strategy? I’m very curious.

[The Atlantic]

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