Tag Archives | authors

Laughing into Darkness: Why No Mark Twain for Our Second Gilded Age?

Image: Public Domain

Image: Public Domain

Lewis H. Lapham writes, via Tomgram:

Twain for as long as I’ve known him has been true to his word, and so I’m careful never to find myself too far out of his reach. The Library of America volumes of his Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches, and Essays (1852–1910) stand behind my desk on a shelf with the dictionaries and the atlas. On days when the news both foreign and domestic is moving briskly from bad to worse, I look to one or another of Twain’s jests to spring the trap or lower a rope, to summon, as he is in the habit of doing, a blast of laughter to blow away the “peacock shams” of the world’s “colossal humbug.”

Laughter was Twain’s stock in trade, and for 30 years as bestselling author and star attraction on America’s late-nineteenth-century lecture stage, he produced it in sufficient quantity to make bearable the acquaintance with grief that he knew to be generously distributed among all present in the Boston Lyceum or a Tennessee saloon, in a Newport drawing room as in a Nevada brothel.

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Groundbreaking Experimental Author Christine Brooke-Rose Dies At 88

thruPioneering, yet little known by the general public, in her mind-bending works, she “exploded the fixed architecture of the master narrative.” The Guardian writes:

One of Britain’s most radical exponents of experimental fiction, the marvelously playful and difficult novelist was fond of the device of omission.

In her 1968 novel Between, she left out the verb “to be” throughout, to stress the narrator’s disoriented sense of personal identity – the year before George Perec’s novel La Disparition omitted the letter “e”. She left out the word “I” from her autobiographical novels, instead describing the narrator as “the old lady”.

Her first truly experimental novel, Out (1964), was narrated by a white character facing racial discrimination in the aftermath of a nuclear war, with pale skin now indicating radiation poisoning and dark skin health.

As a Women’s Auxiliary Air Force officer during the second world war, she worked at Bletchley Park, assessing intercepted German communications.

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The Robot Author Has Arrived

dadoesWe can all agree that it’s O.K. for robots to take over unpleasant jobs — like cleaning up nuclear waste. But how could we have allowed them to commandeer one of the most gratifying occupations, that of author?

Via the New York Times, Pagan Kennedy looks into the phenomenon of android authors, and finds that their works are already being published and sold on Amazon:

One day, I stumbled across a book on Amazon called “Saltine Cracker.” It didn’t make sense: who would pay $54 for a book entirely about perforated crackers? The book was co-edited by someone called Lambert M. Surhone — a name that sounds like one of Kurt Vonnegut’s inventions. According to Amazon, Lambert M. Surhone has written or edited more than 100,000 titles, on every subject from beekeeping to the world’s largest cedar bucket. He was churning out books at a rate that was simply not possible for a human being.

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