writers

How Self-Publishing Made One Author a Best-Seller

The Editors

"I wanted more control over not just the creative writing, but also the marketing strategy, cover art, and other business aspects of publishing. I grew frustrated being unable to make these decisions going the traditional publishing route," she says. "I'm both a writer and entrepreneur, and I'm enjoying more creative and financial rewards than I ever have." For Michaels, who says the initial idea of going indie was "taking a leap off a cliff and hoping you can fly before you crash," the resulting benefits have exceeded her expectations.

Remembering Robert Stone

Lee Polevoi

Everyone who loves to read can name a book that changed their lives. For me, it was Dog Soldiers, a novel written by Robert Stone, who died recently in Key West. The novel, Stone’s second, grafted a compulsively readable narrative onto a precise evocation of the war in Vietnam and what was happening back home. No writer described the era’s pathos, self-absorption and reckless abandon as well as he did. The 60’s died in Dog Soldiers and by the novel’s end, we understood why. 

The Story of James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses: From Contraband to Masterpiece

Lee Polevoi

Modern-day readers of a novel published in 1922 and banned as “obscene” in Europe and America might legitimately wonder what all the fuss was about. Almost a century later, in a culture saturated by explicit references to sex, masturbation and everything in between, the international uproar over references to sex and bodily functions in James Joyce’s Ulysses seems hard to imagine. But, as Kevin Birmingham illustrates in his engagingly written “biography of a book,” the 720-page, epoch-defining work changed both the way novels are written and the way novels are read. 

Love, Loneliness Are Focus of David James Poissant’s' The Heaven of Animals'

Melinda Parks

If a purpose of literature is to expose universal truths about life and human nature, then David James Poissant’s The Heaven of Animals has done its job. Poissant, a celebrated young writer whose stories have appeared in such publications as The Atlantic Monthly, The Chicago Tribune, and The New York Times, and whose work has already garnered impressive literary awards and critical praise, presents layered storylines and realistically flawed characters in his first collection of short stories.

Top Literary Cities in the U.S.

Gabriella Tutino

What determines a city as ‘literary?’ It’s not enough to have a large library, unique bookstores, or be the birthplace of a famous writer. Nor is it enough to be one of the top literate cities in the United States  Most literary cities have a strong writing program at one of their numerous colleges and universities, as well as bookstores and institutions hosting event after event. If anything, a literary city is a blend of the historical, cultural, and modern parts of literature, encouraging and inspiring future generations to appreciate and take part in the literary world.

Why Ralph Ellison Still Matters

Greg Thomas

Never out of print since it became a best-seller in 1952, and winner of the National Book Award in 1953, Ellison’s fictional masterpiece is generally recognized as one of the most influential novels of the 20th century. This is the tale of the often slapstick (mis)adventures of a nameless African American protagonist whose blues-drenched, pinball-like journey from the South to the North and from rural to city not only mirrored the historical trajectory of black folk, but whose search for identity resonates, even today, with all.

Leading the Life of (Not So) Quiet Desperation in Robert Stone’s World

Lee Polevoi

Whether engendered by war and heroin, in Dog Soldiers, revolutionary zeal and madness in A Flag for Sunrise, madness again in Children of Light or religious fanaticism in Damascus Gate, these men and women find themselves headed for total meltdown. Waiting to see if the worst will happen—as it invariably does—is part of what has made Stone's work so compelling over the past five decades. But while the same kind of drug-ridden and mentally deranged anguish compels the various characters in his new novel, Death of the Black-Haired Girl, the scope of the novel is smaller than before. 

Tales of Discovery and Disillusionment in Andrea Barrett’s ‘Archangel’

Lee Polevoi

The spirit of scientific enterprise infuses Archangel, Andrea Barrett’s new collection of stories. A winner of the National Book Award, Barrett has carved out a singular niche writing about science, or more specifically, scientists in the decades before and after the turn of the 20th century—when so much of what was considered “true” about the natural world was being dramatically up-ended. 

New Fiction: Florence the Forgotten

Maggie Hennefeld

This day and age, you only count as an undead being if you are fleshy enough to fall in love: anatomically correct vampires, Oedipal demons, baying werewolves who turn out to be your soulmate, and even coming-of-age witches. If there is no corporeal lust involved then you might as well have stayed dead for good. But my name is Florence and even though I am a specter without a body, I still think that my story deserves to be told all the same. 

Crisscrossing the Pond in Colum McCann’s ‘TransAtlantic’

Lee Polevoi

Fictional characters that appear fleetingly in these early sections rise to prominence later in TransAtlantic. From the 19th century to nearly the present day, McCann brilliantly draws us into the lives of several generations of women: Lily Duggan, a penniless maid in Webb’s Dublin household who immigrates to America; her daughter Emily, a journalist, who reports on Brown and Alcock’s historic flight; Emily’s daughter, Lottie, who suffers a mother’s loss during the Troubles and later exhorts Sen. Mitchell to end the violence. These characters’ lives are deftly intertwined, adding considerable texture to a story that otherwise threatens to be sprawling and diffuse.

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