Category Archives: Hooray Fiction!

10 New Books You’ll Want to Give (and Get) This Christmas

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1. Game Changers: The Unsung Heroines of Sports History by Molly Schiot

This big, beautiful, illustrated hardcover offers profiles and portraits of pioneering women in sports history. Based on the Instagram account @TheUnsungHeroes, Game Changers is a dramatic record of people who shattered their glass ceilings.

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2. Carry This Book by Abbi Jacobson

One of the stars of Broad City has a secret talent: drawing the imaginary contents of famous people’s personal bags. Ever wondered what Oprah carries in her purse? Abbi has some ideas. Continue reading

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Would You Like Some Pho With Your ‘Murderous Rage’?

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“We will live!”—the last line, italics and all, of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s 2016 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Sympathizer—is a full-throated cry for the world’s 100 million Vietnamese people, who are still largely unheard more than forty years after the end of their catastrophic war. With his new non-fiction essay collection, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, Nguyen expands and elevates the Vietnamese experience to challenge the economic and political order of the world (yes, the world) and the U.S. “war machine” that he believes maintains it.

That machine encompasses not only American government and weapons makers but also their “ministry of misinformation,” Hollywood. Racist, mostly white-controlled American corporations and the people who work for them also benefit and thus perpetuate the structure. “We are all implicated, not just soldiers but a lot of people in suits and dresses,” Nguyen says in an interview.

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HOT TAKES: Bob Dylan wins the Nobel Prize for Literature

When it comes to the awarding of something so prestigious as the Nobel Prize for Literature, there is no better source of commentary and reaction than Twitter. Here are the hottest takes on the hottest award of the year:

There was lots of speculation on who might win this year. Dylan was a longshot, to say the least. As one of the most comprehensive analyses of the field put it, “Bob Dylan 100 percent is not going to win. Stop saying Bob Dylan should win the Nobel Prize.”

But the answer my friend, came in from Sweden. The answer came in from Sweden:

Dylan was recognized for “new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

Some speculated on other contenders:  Continue reading

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PIECE BY PIECE: Clothed, Female Figure by Kirstin Allio

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We asked Kirstin Allio to introduce us to her short story collection–one piece at a time.

Millennium

The windows of the apartment were waxy, and had been painted shut in another era. If you pressed yourself against the interior-facing glass you could see, as if at the bottom of a secret well, a murky courtyard where a few scorched houseplants had been left for the wife of the doorman… I theorized that the millennium was like the Wizard of Oz—the moment before he reveals himself from behind the curtain.

Clothed, Female Figure

I came to New York at twenty-six and married the first man I met, literally and proverbially. He stuck his head around the fire escape. “Hey,” he said. “Neighbor.”

He had a loopy, charming grin and hard eyes the color of lapis. I had just brought home a pot of daisies (margaritka, in Russian), and I was setting them out on the little balcony. I wouldn’t have called it a fire escape. My English was good but not specific. He climbed over, still grinning, as if he were shy of my beauty but like a dog couldn’t help himself. He had long legs in tight jeans and white socks with holes in them. So already we were intimate. We had one son, Arturo, named after my husband’s father, the patriarch. The family business was Italian tiles. We were a mismatch from the beginning, although there were never any lighthearted fairies making fun of us.

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Holden Caulfield is “Anti-White”

In these days of grievance, it seems anyone can be “anti-white,” even America’s most iconic, lily-white, emo, prep-school complainer, Holden Caulfield.

As Quartz reports, over the next month, in honor of Banned Books Week, the Washington, D.C. public library system is hiding banned books around the city as part of a scavenger hunt. The books will be distinctively marked. Like obscenity, you’ll know them when you see them:

Each book has a black cover, printed with quotes from people who have tried to have them banned or removed from US libraries and schools. John Knowles’ A Separate Peace will be labeled “filthy, trashy sex novel,” and J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye is labeled “anti-white.”

The “anti-white” quote on the Catcher cover comes from a 1963 effort to ban CatcherBrave New World and To Kill a Mockingbird. Presumably, the anti-white complaint is more targeted at the book in which African-American characters are mistreated by whites. But hey, it’s a fun scavenger hunt, so just go with it.

While Salinger surely would have objected to this whole thing — since he objected to everything (including whites, I guess?) — he did once write a story that the kind of person who would label something as “anti-white” might consider anti-white. It was based on the life of Bessie Smith, including her death, which was alleged to be the result of being refused admittance into a whites-only hospital. The story was published in Cosmopolitan in 1948, and the editors changed Salinger’s title from “Needle on a Scratchy Phonograph Record” to “Blue Melody” without telling the author, which upset him deeply.

-Michael Moats

 

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Sean Beaudoin’s Welcome Thieves Tour Diary

Welcome Thieves

It may be apocryphal, but supposedly there was a time when you finished a book, sent it in to your editor, and then immediately headed up to the deer lodge with a case of bourbon and a few pounds of hardtack, ready to start the next. No need to block four calendar months for promotion. No need to come up with a clever social media campaign (“I’ll be live-mumbling the entire thing on Slapfish!”), and especially no reason to alienate every last friend and family member by flogging a novel they’ve either already bought or have no intention of ever buying. No, you’d just hit the road with a publicist who looked like Rosalind Russell, hit a dozen cities, keynote a conference, and on the way home offend a ladies’ book club or two. Finis.

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