Friday, May 28, 2010

Ian McEwan brings home bacon with comic novel Solar

Booker winner bags pig and champagne for 'laugh-out-loud' climate change novel

Ian McEwan's trophy cabinet has heretofore been home to more serious awards, but the Booker prize-winning author will today be making room on the shelves for his first comic-fiction accolade, won for his take on climate change, Solar.

The novel was chosen unanimously from a shortlist of five books to win the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize for comic fiction. "I hope he'll be really, really pleased," said judge and director of the Guardian Hay festival, Peter Florence. McEwan claimed at the festival two years ago: "I hate comic novels; it's like being wrestled to the ground and being tickled, being forced to laugh."

McEwan, though, said today he was "delighted" to win the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse, "three names associated with distinctive and important pleasures".

"Some prizes offer fifty thousand pounds, but this one comes with a Gloucester Old Spot piglet attached and I'll be honoured to hold it in my arms. As long as it behaves," the author added.

Florence said Solar provided many moments of "laugh-out-loud" humour, thanks to McEwan's "beautiful phrasing" and "descriptions of infidelity and intimate personal details". Florence said that despite McEwan's "macabre and serious" reputation, he'd "always found there are moments of amazing humour in lots of his books, even The Child in Time. He's so precise with his language and he makes his point so brilliantly with humour. In Solar, there's this wonderful, bloated, chaotic man, just like our planet, hurtling to his destruction, taking no responsibility for himself at all, and it's a gloriously funny idea."

- Alison Flood,

Read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Towel Day: Douglas Adams remembered across the globe

Are you the kind of hoopy frood who knows where your towel is? If so, you're in good company. All over the world today fans of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy are heeding Douglas Adams's words that a towel is "about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have" and are conspicuously carrying one with them for the day in honour of the writer who died nine years ago.

Towel Day events are taking place around the world, and include a pub lunch in Brisbane, flashmobs in Brazil and Berlin, a picnic in Budapest, a Vogon poetry slam in Portland, Oregon, a beer party in Zagreb and a "nice cup of tea" event outside the Pompidou Centre in Paris. Many more people have simply pledged to carry a towel.

- Michelle Pauli,

Read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Lonely Polygamist

Golden Richards, the “lonely polygamist” of Brady Udall’s second novel and third published work of fiction, is not only lonesome but also many other things that, ideally, a patriarch and apostle of the Lord would not be: indecisive, feckless, withdrawn and hesitant. All of which puts his four wives in the excruciating position of having to beg him, often, to “embrace his God-given patriarchal authority” and “make a decision once in a while.” At one time it seemed as if Golden, a mammoth, unkempt man referred to as Sasquatch by one of his sons, might be the One Mighty and Strong, a venerated figure in the poly­gamist society that broke off from Mormonism in 1890 after plural marriage was banned, to be “delivered from on high to set in order the house of God.” He is still a leading figure in this particular not very well-off community in the far south­western corner of Utah, near both Arizona and Nevada, as a member of the Council of the Twelve that now, rather sadly, comprises only eight.

Udall’s novel forces readers to contend for its 600 pages with two dissonant stories: the exceptional tale of an exceptional family, part of a phenomenon so minuscule and remote a part of American society as to be freakish, known only by lurid headlines torn from the news; and, more conventionally, the story of a family man’s burnout, temptation and redemption. This family man just happens to have four nuclear families, which makes his midlife crisis and ensuing affair a little more complicated than most.

- Eric Weinberger, The New York Times

Read the rest of the review here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Britain’s famous lit mag gets down and dirty.

Who knew that Dave Eggers could get this sexy? His illustrations of animals contemplating, well, you can guess, is just one of the many surprises in this new issue of Granta. With writing from Jeanette Winterson, Adam Foulds, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Marie Darrieussecq, Mark Doty, and Roberto BolaƱo, Granta’s line up proves that literary sex is all too often overlooked. Though not every story perfectly melds with the issue’s topic—“sex from all angles,” as editor John Freeman explains in the video intro [LINK “video intro” ]--readers will find a wonderful range of fiction and memoir.
- The Daily Beast

Sex is our oldest obsession. For as long as we’ve been doing it, it has been used as a mark of decline and a measure of progress. It has been at the centre of rituals and responsible for revolutions. We make money from it, hide behind it, prohibit and promote it. It relaxes us, revolts us, hurts us and helps us. But whatever we think about it, however we do it, it defines us.

Friday, May 7, 2010

1000 Awesome Things

From neighbors with pools to ordering off the menu at fast-food restaurants to fixing electronics by smacking them, The Book of Awesome takes on life’s sweet feats with all the honest humor and winning enthusiasm that has earned Pasricha’s blog its millions of followers. But while powered along by Pasricha’s distinctive, fresh, and hilarious voice, The Book of Awesome isn’t about one man’s favorite things, but rather a catalog of the universal little pleasures we all share. With its focus on the many things that bring us together rather than the few things that split us apart, it’s a book that will appeal to people from all walks of life — housewives and college kids, children and senior citizens alike. Arising out of Pasricha’s riffs on popping bubble wrap and getting a trucker to blow his horn is an unexpected, genuine sort of inspiration, as The Book of Awesome offers up a hearty cheer for all the little things we take for granted.

Bookmark the blog for days you need a little lift:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Dykulture's Cover Art: The weird and sexy world of lesbian pulp fiction

The more I find out about the cover art of lesbian pulp fiction, the more I develop a trashy taste for it. The same reason I’m an unashamed fan of country music, puns and Sparletta. They’re almost like those ironic black & white greeting cards where a frumpy uptight woman smiles at the camera, and underneath is the caption: “Jane couldn’t do without a steaming cup of coffee and a hot (insert rude genital reference here)”. Except better. Because they were the real thing. The cover art is iconic on its own, but as a word lover, I like the titles and sub-captions best.

Like this one. “Private Party: No one at school realised they were more than just roommates…No one suspected what took place once their door was locked.”

And there was more behind the choice in titles. Lesbian pulp novels were marketed to men. They were erotic, scandalous novels filled with all sorts of tales of sexual fantasy. So besides having suggestive cover art, the publishers used words like “twilight”, “odd”, “strange”, “shadows” and “queer” to let you know just what kind of novel you were in for.


Read the rest of the post here.