Category Archives: Fiction Advocate of the Day

Fiction Advocate of the Day: Google

Steinbeck

Today’s Google doodle celebrates the 112th birthday of John Steinbeck.  And while it passes over what is arguably his greatest work, East of Eden, it is still pretty wonderful.

Happy birthday John Steinbeck.

And while I’m at it, happy birthday to my sister and fellow East of Eden fan Samantha Moats, who continues to remind me of something Steinbeck wrote: “I guess a loving woman is indestructible.”

- Michael Moats

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Fiction Advocate of the Day: B.J. Novak

aka Ryan from The Office. Not as well known as a writer and director on the same show. He wins today for making a book trailer I actually enjoyed watching.

Novak’s collection of stories, One More Thing, comes out on February 4th. Pre-Regular-order it here.

C’est ce qu’elle a dit.

- Michael Moats

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Fiction Advocate of the Day

FA Science Mag Cover

It’s science — the magazine, and the method.

Emanuele Castano and David Comer Kidd from the New School for Social Research published a study in this month’s Science magazine showing the emotional-intuitive benefits of reading literary fiction. According to the New York Times, the study revealed that:

after reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence — skills that come in especially handy when you are trying to read someone’s body language or gauge what they might be thinking.

In other words, science has proven David Foster Wallace’s theory that “Fiction’s about what it is to be a fucking human being.” Continue reading

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Non-Fiction Advocate of the Day

SRDFW

Alexander Nazaryan at the Atlantic Wire says you should read Signifying Rappers, David Foster Wallace’s recently re-released collaboration with Mark Costello about the emergence of hip hop in America.

A book about rap written a quarter century ago by two very white guys has tremendous potential to be embarrassing. I am happy to report that Signifying Rappers did not make me cringe a single time, though I did have to look up both cultural references (Schooly D) and words from DFW’s famously capacious lexicon (epiclesis; seriously, Dave?). It is also probably the only book about popular music to seriously discuss the origins of synecdochal imagery.

At heart, this book has heart. Its message is simple and humane. “Rap is poetry”…

This is part of the Wallace collection I have not gotten to, but Nazaryan gives it a healthy endorsement. My recommendation is to go buy Signifying Rappers, then get yourself copies of “Yeezus,” “Magna Carta Holy Grail” and Questlove’s Mo’ Meta Blues and make a summer out of it.

And if this Dave Wallace and Mark Costello collaboration isn’t grabbing you, maybe the new track from Elvis Costello and The Roots is more your speed:

- Michael Moats

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Fiction Advocate of Earth Day

Climate change? Apparently so.

In “So Hot Right Now: Has Climate Change Created A New Literary Genre?” NPR Books explores the growing genre of “cli-fi”:

Over the past decade, more and more writers have begun to set their novels and short stories in worlds, not unlike our own, where the Earth’s systems are noticeably off-kilter. The genre has come to be called climate fiction — “cli-fi,” for short.

NPR starts the discussion with Nathaniel Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow, which people are talking about because it seems to have predicted the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Unfortunately, Exhibit B for “cli-fi” is Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, which is a bad example because — much as I still love Jurassic Park and even The Lost World — it’s garbage. Continue reading

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Fiction Opponent and Advocate of the Day

DOA

Opponent: Today’s copyright laws, changing technology, market pressures and, as usual, Amazon.

Advocate: Scott Turow, who explains in the New York Times this morning how today’s copyright laws, changing technology, market pressures and, as usual, Amazon, are creating huge disincentives for novelist to actually write novels for a living.

…the global electronic marketplace is rapidly depleting authors’ income streams. It seems almost every player — publishers, search engines, libraries, pirates and even some scholars — is vying for position at authors’ expense.

This is not a matter of greed and avarice; as Turow points out, authors have been generally accepting, and usually outright supportive of, libraries that give their work away for free — not to mention second-hand bookstores. Anyone who wants to write books for a living knows better than to entertain champagne wishes or caviar dreams. But current trends are steadily taking authors into something more like a nightmare. For example, the way search engines enable easy piracy: Continue reading

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Fiction Advocate of the Day

The Roots: “Push pen to paper like Chinua Achebe.”

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Fiction Advocate of the Day

Roberto Bolaño.

Here’s why.

Bolano advice 1 Continue reading

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