Tag Archives | Literature

Lost At The Con

[disinfo ed.'s note: The following is an excerpt from Lost At The Con, new fiction from Big Shiny Robot's Bryan Young.]

lostattheconA political writer for a second rate, online news magazine, Michael Cobb is assigned by his editor to cover a sci-fi and fantasy convention in a bid to humiliate him.

Since Cobb can’t afford to turn down the job, he heads to Georgia and dives head first into the world of Griffin*Con, renowned the world over as the Mardis Gras of geek conventions. In Atlanta he finds a place that takes geeky debauchery to new heights: science fiction and fantasy, cosplay, booze, sex, comic books, drugs, slash fiction, and more.

This scene takes place on Cobb’s first day at the con:

My heart sank, killing the warmth of the drugs. The urge for locomotion finally returned to my legs and I continued my sojourn to the elevator. That feeling of flying high without a safety net returned as the elevator doors I'd finally reached opened with a sharp DING. And there before me was a Darth Vader...
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Confessions Of A Thug

Victoriangothic.org reviews the classic novel which first popularized the Thuggee cult, a darkly psychological adventure story with a murderous anti-hero, Ameer Ali:

Philip Meadows Taylor’s 1839 novel Confessions of a Thug captured the imagination of 19th-century Britain with its chilling depiction of an organized death cult preying upon the hapless travelers of India’s wild and desolate roads. Based upon real accounts Taylor gathered during his work suppressing the Thuggee cult for the Nizam of Hyderabad, the book is ominously introduced as an authoritative exposé in which true events have been faithfully woven into a fictionalized narrative.

Group of Thugs c. 1864.

Group of Thugs c. 1864.

As portrayed by Taylor, the Thugs are the votaries of Bhowanee (Kali); the destructive aspect of the Supreme Being. Endowed with superior intelligence and cunning, they are sent forth to make “sacrifices” on her behalf. The reward for their piety is the plunder they gather from their victims. In so far as they observe her omens and obey her taboos, Bhowanee grants them protection from earthly authorities.

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The Terry Southern Revival

Gore Vidal on Terry Southern, courtesy TS Literary Trust

Gore Vidal on Terry Southern, courtesy TS Literary Trust

Terry Southern was credited by Tom Wolfe as having invented “New Journalism” with the publication of “Twirling at Ole Miss” in Esquire in 1962, and his gift for writing memorable film dialogue was evident in Dr. Strangelove, The Loved One, The Cincinnati Kid, Easy Rider and The Magic Christian. [1].

As his popularity faded, Southern became a favorite of the kind of hipster for whom the more obscure and clever the author, the cooler he was. Now, however, a broad Terry Southern revival is in full swing. This month saw the inaugural Terry Southern Prize for Humor awarded at the Paris Review Spring Revel; The New York Observer reports on presenter Fran Lebowitz’s comment:

“I wonder if Terry Southern would have won a Terry Southern award for humor. The answer, of course, is no.”

Most recently, Publishers Weekly reports that Southern’s son, Nile, is working with Jane Friedman’s Open Road Media to publish ebook editions of Candy (written with Mason Hoffenberg); Flash and Filigree; The Magic Christian; Blue Movie; Texas Summer; and Red-Dirt Marijuana:

The e-books will each include new covers and an illustrated biography of Southern that will feature photos and documents from his life. Open Road is also offering a selection of commentary and video content on Southern on the Open Road Media Web site that will feature interviews with Nile Southern, author Fran Lebowitz and author John Jeremiah Sullivan.

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A Novel Starring The IRS? David Foster Wallace’s Posthumous Jest

David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace. Photo: Steve Rhodes (CC)

There’s no doubt that The Pale King, the new, posthumous novel by David Foster Wallace about the lives of workers at the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, has generated more interest from reviewers than almost anything else of recent vintage. There are reviews in almost every publication that’s ever run a book review.

Foster Wallace’s publishers timed the publication to coincide with the American tax filing date of April 15th, and certainly it’s a good hook for many reviewers. In this Sunday’s New York Times Book Review section there are three separate pieces devoted to the book, but the review that’s attracted the most attention from the media, if not necessarily with readers, is Jonathan Franzen’s for The New Yorker.

For some reason it has royally p*ssed off other lit mags and blogs that The New Yorker decided to make the review available only to people who “like” its Facebook fan page.… Read the rest

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‘Janeites’ Create Jane Austen 2.0

Arden Dale and Mary Pilon unveil an unlikely subculture for the Wall Street Journal:
Ben Kemper, 19, plans to wear a frock coat with cuffs to the annual Jane Austen birthday tea in Boise, Idaho, on Saturday. The outfit will be "the whole shebang," says Mr. Kemper, who hopes to scare up some yard work so he can pay for the new threads. He says his costume may include riding boots, a cane, gloves and a buttoned vest. Mr. Kemper is among an unlikely set of fans of the long-dead Ms. Austen—young people...
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Before “The Secretary,” Hannah Cullwick was “The Maid”

secmaidCullwick claimed to be able to tell where her husband had been by the taste of his boots. Kathryn Hughes reviews Love and Dirt in the Guardian:

The secret marriage between minor man of letters Arthur Munby and his servant Hannah Cullwick has become one of the great set pieces of 19th-century social history. Whenever a case study is needed to show the sheer weirdness of Victorian men in the bedroom, the story of how the gentlemanly Munby stalked, caught and loved the huge, dirty Cullwick over a period of 40 years is pressed into play … At Munby’s direction, Cullwick produced thousands of pages of letters and memoir which told the strange story of how she came to spend 40 years in a sado-masochistic relationship where her greatest treat was to be allowed to lick her husband’s dirty boots (horse shit was her favourite relish).

Cullwick’s private name for Munby was “massa”, an uneasy term that looked back to her native Shropshire dialect and elided it with that of the negro slave whose blackness she replicated with soot, as much for her own pleasure as for his.

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Graham Greene And Other Great Authors Were British Spies

author-graham-greene-talking-with-actor-alec-guinness-on-location-for-our-man-in-havana-premium-19372174.jpegAmong the eyebrow-raising tidbits in the first authorized book on the history of the MI6 (Britain’s secret service) is the acknowledgment that the United Kingdom used some of its most celebrated authors as spies, among them Graham Greene and Somerset Maugham. The reason being that they could visit exotic places without suspicion, and write reports filled with pithy witticisms, the Guardian reports:

The authors Graham Greene, Arthur Ransome, Somerset Maugham, Compton Mackenzie and Malcolm Muggeridge, and the philosopher AJ “Freddie” Ayer, all worked for MI6, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service admitted for the first time today . They are among the many exotic characters who agreed to spy for Britain, mainly during wartime, who appear in a the first authorized history of MI6.

Greene, Mackenzie, Muggeridge and others who have written about their secret work make it clear they were reluctant spies approached by MI6 because of their access and knowledge of exotic parts of the world.

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