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March 27, 2012
[books] H. P. Lovecraft: The man who haunted horror fans … BBC News On H. P. Lovecraft … ‘The Call of Cthulhu is the most famous tale of his invented mythos, which is itself a stage in Lovecraft’s attempts to create a perfect form for his preoccupations and for the weird tale. The mythos was also meant to counteract the over-explanation and lack of imaginative suggestiveness he found in conventional occult fiction. The following year Lovecraft wrote The Colour out of Space, which he later regarded as his best work. It tells the story of a strange meteorite that blights a farming community. “It was just a colour out of space”, but it is Lovecraft’s purest symbol, the strongest expression of his sense that the universe, and anything living out there in the dark of space or time, is indifferent to man.’
February 23, 2012
[books] Alex James’s new memoir proves him to be Britain’s premier cheese bore … an epic take down of Alex James new book by Marina Hyde. Not so much a book review – more a turkey shoot …

James’s fondness for cheese is believed to be a matter of which no one in this earthly sphere is unaware. For a time, it was assumed that there were some remote peoples still untouched by his rennet-based droning, but in that recent aerial footage of the uncontacted Amazon society, the tribe was seen to have arranged a collection of bones and earthenware shards into the words: “PLEASE STOP ALEX JAMES GOING ON ABOUT BLOODY CHEESE.”

February 2, 2012
[comics] Dave Sim On Oscar Wilde: ‘Why be prolific when one could be charming? Why produce when there’s so much to consume? I have to credit all the research that I did on Oscar Wilde for convincing me that I don’t want to be like that. If I can end my life with a large body of completed works and a reputation as a cantankerous old hermit I’ll consider my time well spent.’
January 31, 2012
[books] Flick Books – Can you tell the movie from the book Cover? … a fun little quiz … ‘A movie adaptation is rarely the first time someone gets to give a visual representation of a book. It is usually the cover illustrator who gets the job to draw how he thinks the story should look. However, as soon as a book is turned into a movie, the illustrator’s work is usually thrown in the bin only to be quickly replaced by a “you’ve seen the movie… now read the book” approximation of the movie poster as a cover.’
January 18, 2012
[books] In the Land of the Non-Reader … On stopping reading books …‘Books can steady a chair and a soul. The former use is not recommended for Kindle.’
December 20, 2011
[books] The War for Catch-22 … A look at the genesis of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 … ‘The Czech writer Arnošt Lustig claimed that Heller had told him at a New York party for Milos Forman in the late 1960s that he couldn’t have written Catch-22 without first reading Jaroslav Hašek’s unfinished World War I satire,The Good Soldier Schweik. In Hašek’s novel, a mad state bureaucracy traps a hapless man. Among other things, he stays in a hospital for malingerers and serves as an orderly for an army chaplain.’
December 13, 2011
[comics] Dan Clowes On Book Shops … Clowes on the cover of New Yorker.
November 17, 2011
[books] Stephen King Goes to the Rescue of JFK … Stephen King’s latest book reviewed by Errol Morris …

In “11/22/63,” we get glimpses of a nimbus of evil that surrounds the world. There are no single crimes. Each act of cruelty or violence is somehow associated — harmonized, King would suggest — with every other act. Inside the past, Amberson learns there are no accidents, no inadvertencies. Just an infernal machine. (Tick, tock.) He says: “Coincidences happen, but I’ve come to believe they are actually quite rare. Something is at work, O.K.? Somewhere in the universe (or behind it), a great machine is ticking and turning its fabulous gears.”

There is a darker what-if. What if history is too forceful to redirect? What if jiggering the engine produces no favorable outcome — merely a postponement of the inevitable? If he had lived, Kennedy might not have escalated the war in Vietnam, and might have kept America out of a bloody mire. But we don’t know.

November 15, 2011
[books] Errol Morris Interviews Stephen King … on his new book about time travel, J.F.K. and Lee Harvey Oswald …

Oswald just happened to be at the right place at the right time. He and his wife were effectively done, and she was living with Mrs. Paine out in Irving. He used to come on the weekends, but that week, he came on Thursday — the night before the assassination. And it seems pretty clear from his actions and from the things he said that he had decided to do this, but that he could be persuaded to change his mind. He and Marina went to bed that night and in bed, he asked her, “Is there a chance that we can get back together?” And she was very cold to him. She said, “No, I don’t think that’s ever going to happen, Lee.” And in the morning, he left his wedding ring and he left all the money in his pockets in a teacup in the kitchen for her. And that was it. There is this chain of ifs, but really, it’s as simple as that. He wanted to shoot somebody. He wanted to be somebody famous. It’s all there. The pieces all click together pretty nicely.

November 14, 2011
[books] Is Reading On The Toilet Bad For You?‘No writer owned the arena of toilet reading more than Henry Miller. He read truly great books on the lavatory, and maintained that some, Ulysses for instance, could not be fully appreciated elsewhere. The environment was one that enriched substantial works – extracted their flavour, as he put it – while lesser books and magazines suffered. He singled out Atlantic Monthly. Miller went so far as to recommend toilets for individual authors. To enjoy Rabelais, he advised a plain country toilet, “a little outhouse in the corn patch, with a crescent sliver of light coming through the door”. Better still, he said, take a friend along, to sit with you for half an hour of minor bliss.’
November 1, 2011
[books] Please tell me a book you think everyone should read and why … more book recommendations from Ask Metafilter.
October 10, 2011
[books] Your Picks: Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books … broad list of interesting sci-fi as voted by fans. [via Metafilter]
October 4, 2011
[books] Maurice Sendak: ‘I refuse to lie to children’ … great interview with the children’s author …

And with that he’s off again. Of Salman Rushdie, who once gave him a terrible review in the New York Times, he says: “That flaccid fuckhead. He was detestable. I called up the Ayatollah, nobody knows that.” Roald Dahl: “The cruelty in his books is off-putting. Scary guy. I know he’s very popular but what’s nice about this guy? He’s dead, that’s what’s nice about him.” Stephen King: “Bullshit.” Gwyneth Paltrow: “I can’t stand her.”

September 22, 2011
[books] Has Neal Stephenson Become Too Accessible?‘Putting aside the daunting question of how even a writer of Stephenson’s talents could continue to keep topping himself every time out, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t head in a different direction every now and then. What’s more — I thoroughly enjoyed “Reamde.” I couldn’t put it down — which, for a thriller, has got to be the highest praise. Despite its 1,000-plus pages, “Reamde” moves right along.’
September 5, 2011
[books] The Book Collection That Devoured My Life‘I do have a few hundred books that I reread or consult fairly regularly, and I have a lot of books pertaining to whatever current or future projects I have on the fire, and I have many, many books speculatively pointing toward some project that is still barely a gleam in my eye. I have a lot of books that I need for reference, especially now that I live 40 minutes away from the nearest really solid library. I have some books that exist in the same capacity as the more recondite tools in the chest of a good carpenter — you may not need it more than once in 20 years, but it’s awfully nice to have it there when you do. Primarily, though, books function as a kind of external hard drive for my mind — my brain isn’t big enough to do all the things it wants or needs to do without help.’
August 12, 2011
[books] Forgotten Bookmarks … a lovely blog from a bookseller posting the bookmarks and the odd thing found in second-hand books. On his most common and unique finds: ‘Pressed leaves are by far the most common. I’ve actually stopped saving them, they are too fragile to keep and I don’t think there’s much interest in 100-year-old maple leaves. Sometimes I find money, like an old crown, but that’s rare. The most unique was a suicide note from the 1930’s, but I decided not to post that one.’
August 10, 2011
[books] Library Sign: I Like Big Books…
August 5, 2011
[books] Graph A Story With Mr. Vonnegut … a way of visualising stories from Kurt Vonnegut … ‘An American Indian creation myth, in which a god of some sort gives the people the sun and then the moon and then the bow and arrow and then the corn and so on, is essentially a staircase, a tale of accumulation…’
June 24, 2011
[books] The 100 Greatest Non-Fiction Books‘After keen debate at the Guardian’s books desk, this is our list of the very best factual writing, organised by category, and then by date.’
June 23, 2011
[books] Famous Opening Lines From Novels Updated For The Modern Age‘Call me Ishmael_65.’
[books] Kevin Kelly On When Books Disappear: ‘We are in a special moment that will not last beyond the end of this century: Paper books are plentiful. They are cheap and everywhere, from airports to drug stores to libraries to bookstores to the shelves of millions of homes. There has never been a better time to be a lover of paper books. But very rapidly the production of paper books will essentially cease, and the collections in homes will dwindle, and even local libraries will not be supported to house books — particularly popular titles. Rare books will collect in a few rare book libraries, and for the most part common paper books archives will become uncommon. It seems hard to believe now, but within a few generations, seeing a actual paper book will be as rare for most people as seeing an actual lion.’
June 18, 2011
[comics] “When I first heard about virtual reality I thought: is there any other kind?” … Alan Moore interview from the New Statesman … Moore on Books: ‘I accept that things change and that the future of reading might be in the form of a Kindle or an iPad, but somehow I tend to think that the book is perfectly adapted. It’s like a shark; sharks haven’t evolved in millions of years because they don’t need to. They’re really really good at being sharks I think the same is true of a book.’
June 8, 2011
[books] How to spot a psychopath … Excerpts From Jon Ronson’s new book

Over the three-day course in Wales, my scepticism drained away entirely and I became a Hare devotee. I think the other sceptics felt the same. He was very convincing. I was attaining a new power, like a secret weapon. I felt like a different person, a hardliner, not confused or out of my depth as I had been when I’d been hanging around with Tony in Broadmoor. Instead, I was contemptuous of those naive people who allowed themselves to be taken in by slick-tongued psychopaths.

My mind drifted to what I could do with my new powers. If I’m being honest, it didn’t cross my mind to become some kind of great crime fighter, philanthropically dedicated to making society a safer place. Instead, I made a mental list of all the people who over the years had crossed me and wondered which of them I might be able to expose as having psychopathic character traits. Top of the list was AA Gill, who had always been very rude about my television documentaries and had written a restaurant column in which he admitted to killing a baboon on safari.

“Item 8 Callous/lack of empathy,” I thought, and smiled to myself.’

June 6, 2011
[tech] Information Overload, The Early Years‘But around 1500, humanist scholars began to bemoan new problems: Printers in search of profit, they complained, rushed to print manuscripts without attention to the quality of the text, and the sheer mass of new books was distracting readers from the focus on the ancient authors most worthy of attention. Printers “fill the world with pamphlets and books that are foolish, ignorant, malignant, libelous, mad, impious and subversive; and such is the flood that even things that might have done some good lose all their goodness,” wrote Erasmus in the early 16th century…’
May 31, 2011
[books] The Cover To J. G. Ballard’s Crash Reconfigured [via LimbicNutrition Shorts] …

The Cover To J. G. Ballard's Crash Reconfigured

May 28, 2011
[books] Go Look: Three Len Deighton Book Covers designed by Raymond Hawkey. [thanks Phil]
May 14, 2011
[books] Balancing The Books … Ed Stourton’s Book Storage Crisis … ‘Our dilemma is a middle-aged one but I suspect, on the basis of conversations with like-minded friends, a common one. Our books are taking over our house and, it sometimes seems, our lives…’ [via Feeling Listless]
April 11, 2011
[quote] “When people do not respect us we are sharply offended; yet in his private heart no man much respects himself.” — Mark Twain. (from 7 Life Changing Lessons You Can Learn from Mark Twain)
April 5, 2011
[books] James Ellroy Signs Off From Facebook‘Sayonara Motherfuckers!!!’

James Ellroy's Facebook Sign Off

April 1, 2011
[books] Why People Love Stieg Larsson’s Novels‘Another consideration that would seem to deflect charges of misogyny is simply the character of Lisbeth. She is a complicated person, alienating and poignant at the same time. Many critics have stressed her apparent coldness. In the scene of her revenge against Bjurman, her face never betrays hatred or fear. When the rape is over, she sits in a chair, smokes a cigarette, and stubs it out on his rug. (He is tied up.) Accordingly, some writers have called her a sociopath. Larsson, too, said that once, but elsewhere he described her as a grownup version of Pippi Longstocking, the badly behaved and happy nine-year-old heroine of a series of books, by Astrid Lindgren, beloved of Swedish children.’
March 24, 2011
[books] Counting H.P. Lovecraft’s Favorite Words‘One of the things any fan of Lovecraft discovers early on is that Lovecraft was very attached to certain words. We either laugh or groan every time we hear something described as “indescribable” or called “unnamable” or “antiquarian” or “cyclopean.” And sometimes we wonder how many times he actually used the words…’ [via As Above]
March 23, 2011
[books] A Book Everyone Should Read? … another great book list from Ask Metafilter … ‘Another vote for “Catch 22”. It captures the essence of the twentieth century: ideology, war and the folly of bureaucracy.’
March 5, 2011
[books] The Hardy Boys The Final Chapter … interesting look at the life of the original writer of the Hardy Boys …

So her father was a hack?

“My father,” she said, “was a literate, sophisticated, erudite man.”

He was?

He loved Dickens, she said. “He was a great Joycean.”

He was?

“He corresponded with F. Scott Fitzgerald. He had aspirations to be that kind of writer.”

She seemed uncertain where to go with this.

Finally: “He hated the Hardy Boys.”

February 25, 2011
[books] The Bobby Fischer Defense … Garry Kasparov On Bobby Fischer … ‘[Fischer’s] paranoia was far beyond the more calculated, even principled, “madness” of his playing years, well described by Voltaire in his Philosophical Dictionary: “Have in your madness reason enough to guide your extravagancies; and, forget not to be excessively opinionated and obstinate.” That is, purposeful and successful madness can hardly be called mad. After Fischer left chess the dark forces inside him no longer had purpose.’
January 26, 2011
[books] How Novels Came To Terms With The Internet‘It is what the internet lures out of us – hubris, daydreams, avarice, obsessions – that makes it so potent and so volatile. TV’s power is serenely impervious; it does all the talking, and we can only listen or turn it off. But the internet is at least partly us; we write it as well as read it, perform for it as well as watch it, create it as well as consume it. Watching TV is a solitary activity that feels like a communal one, while the internet is a communal experience masquerading as solitude.’
December 9, 2010
[politics] Dictator-lit: Kim Jong-il’s political philosophy‘I count at least three lies in the first sentence, and another three in the second, although there could be more. Multiply that by a couple of thousand and you will get a sense of Kim’s pathological language machine, the Omega Point of totalitarian communist propaganda, a nightmare matrix of deceiving nouns, adjectives, prepositions and verbs, from which there is no escape.’
October 11, 2010
[future] A Radical Pessimist’s Guide To The Next 10 Years … many depressing predictions from Douglas Coupland … ‘You may well burn out on the effort of being an individual — You’ve become a notch in the Internet’s belt. Don’t try to delude yourself that you’re a romantic lone individual. To the new order, you’re just a node. There is no escape.’ [via Robot Wisdom]
September 13, 2010
[books] The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women by James Ellroy Reviewed‘This is not really a book about women, or any sort of physical or emotional connection at all, whether love or sex. It’s a book about obsession. Between the relentless crowing about how “brilliantly” he performs at this reading and what a “sales smasheroo” that book is, you sense a lonely and baffled man, repeatedly floored by anxiety, hypochondria and a still-raw response to a long-ago violent loss – none of which are likely to be solved simply by demanding that women line up to love him. Does Ellroy himself know this about himself? Can he see what we see?’
September 10, 2010
[books] Charlie Higson’s Top 10 Horror Books‘There has been a lot of fuss recently about the film of this book. But the book – which is every bit as extreme and upsetting as the film – has been around since as long ago as 1952. Amazing how you can get away with so much more in books without people really noticing. “Oh, it’s a book, it must be good for you.” Well, this book is certainly not good for you.’ (Higson on the Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson.)
September 6, 2010
[space] Stuart Clark’s top 10 approachable astronomy books‘Understanding the celestial objects and our place within them has been a passion of mine for my whole life. I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t consumed with curiosity about the universe. These books span the entire history of mankind’s fascination with space. All of them capture the fascination of astronomy and the human stories behind this most noble of sciences.’
September 3, 2010
[books] Digested read: Tony Blair A Journey‘You know, I had a tear in my eye when I entered No10 for the first time in 1997, though it wasn’t, as the Daily Mail tried to claim, because I was choked with emotion at how far I had come since I was a young, ordinary boy standing on the terraces of St James’ Park, watching Jackie Milburn play for Newcastle. It was because Gordon had hit me. Ah, Gordon! He meant well, I suppose, in his funny little emotionally inarticulate way.’
August 22, 2010
[people] Jackal novelist blames NSA for wife’s laptop hack‘Novelist Frederick Forsyth has accused heavy handed US cyber-spies of destroying his wife’s computer in an attempt to tap into copy he was filling for the Daily Express from West Africa.’
June 14, 2010
[books] Great Literature Retitled To Boost Website Traffic‘7 Awesome Ways Barnyard Animals Are Like Communism’
June 12, 2010
[books] The 10 Most Harmful Novels for Aspiring Writers‘When I stopped plagiarizing Hemingway, I plagiarized Tolkien. It wasn’t the old master’s fault, and I got over it. But thousands of others created a literary Mordor: mass-market industrial fantasy, where the orcs, elves and dwarves march past like the North Korean army.’
June 6, 2010
[books] What books are in the “MeFi Canon”? … interesting post on what books are mentioned regularly on the Metafilter blogs … ‘Twilight gets mentioned a lot. I’ll see myself out.’
March 18, 2010
[books] The Little People – the best book cover ever … A horror novel about evil Nazi Leprechauns with whips? WANT! [via Moreish]

EVIL NAZI LEPRECHAUNS WITH WHIPS!

February 22, 2010
[books] Hare-brained: Kit Williams’ Masquerade … The long and engrossing story behind the creation of Kit Williams’ Masquerade treasure hunt and it’s eventual solution … ‘The national newspapers followed up the Thomas story all week, faithfully repeating the version of events he’d given to Williams. They were particularly pleased with the notion that all these eggheads could have been defeated by Masquerade’s puzzle, only to see the hare finally discovered by a dog who stopped to pee on a random stone. This was the single aspect of the story which every newspaper emphasised, and it’s still the one thing which most casual readers know – or think they know – about Masquerade today.’ [via Metafilter]
February 18, 2010
[books] Henry Sutton’s top 10 Unreliable Narrators … On The Killer Inside Me: ‘It was Jim Thompson, not James M Cain, who put the hard into hard-boiled, the noir into roman noir. He was also one of the first crime writers to take us into the heads of seriously twisted killers, if not out-and-out psychopaths. Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford is regarded as a pillar of the small Texan community he serves. Yet he’s in possession of a secret he doesn’t even admit to himself. When the bodies start to appear, the net slowly tightens.’
January 29, 2010
[books] Dave Eggers on J. D. Salinger: ‘I wish I’d met the man. I hope he was happy. I worry sometimes that he wasn’t a happy recluse, but I like to think he was. Wouldn’t it be ­wonderful if he actually felt like he said all he needed to say and then just called it a day (for four or five decades?). The strength of his convictions, in any case, serves as a model for us all.’
January 20, 2010
[books] James Ellroy and David Peace in conversation … On his life between 1968 and 1972: ‘I have a very dim social sense. I recall the time. I recall the specific events. But I didn’t give a rat’s fucking ass. I was self-absorbed. All I wanted to do was drink, use drugs, perv around after women, unsuccessfully. And read. I didn’t give a shit. I was never leftwing. I was never a war protestor. I would just steal and hole up in libraries and sleep in parks and act like an asshole, in a minor way. But I read and nurtured notions of being a great writer. And I sensed history bombing around beside me. I knew I was living through tumultuous history.’

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