Displaying articles for: October 2012

Mirror Earth

Michael D. Lemonick's engrossing new account of the relatively young field of exoplanetary science reveals how the study of planets outside of our solar system languished as a kind of pencil and paper speculative game until the right technology and the right visionary inspirations coincided. After that, the riches began to rain down from the heavens. Now we stand poised on the threshold of the ultimate coup: finding a "mirror Earth," or twin to our hospitable home.


"We Call It Voice, But It's Really Much More..."

"We wanted more. We knocked the butt ends of our forks against the table, tapped our spoons against our empty bowls; we were hungry. We wanted more volume, more riots."


Making Booker History

The 2012 Man Booker Prize in fiction was announced on Tuesday night, and the winner made history with her work of historical fiction:  Hilary Mantel took the award for her novel Bring Up the Bodies, the second volume in Mantel's reimagnation of the life and career of Thomas Cromwell,  Tudor courtier and ultimately the chief minister to Henry VIII.


"This Name Was the Signpost"

Joe Mozingo reveals his family's incredible -- and very American -- story in his memoir, The Fiddler on Pantico Run. Here, he discusses his "funny last name," the legacies of race, and how his family's own lost history speaks to us all, among other things, with Discover Great New Writers.


The Female Detective

The consensus history of the detective story credits its natal coalescence to Poe's "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," appearing in 1841. So potent was the new fictional idiom, so suited to contemporary times, that in only a couple of decades mystery novels and short stories were a standardized form, although of course many refinements and milestones remained ahead. So in 1864 the appearance of Andrew Forrester's The Female Detective, featuring the first gumshoe of her gender, was a logical but unprecedented landmark. (Some authorities give the groundbreaking credit, however, to Edward Ellis's Ruth the Betrayer; or, The Female Spy, from 1863. In either case, the time seemed ripe for such a figure.)


Discover and the 2012 National Book Awards

Congratulations are due to a host of Discover Great New Writers alums nominated for 2012 National Book Awards and named to the "5 Under 35" list.


>You Are Standing in a Dark Cave

Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore and Charles Yu, author of Sorry Please Thank You, talk about first-person vs. third-person narration, How Fiction Works by James Wood, and creating entirely new worlds with text, among other things.


Junot Díaz is a Card-Carrying Genius

We couldn't be more thrilled with the news that Junot Díaz was awarded a 2012 "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation, to pursue whatever creative project he choses. We can't wait to see what this storytelling impresario does next; For years Díaz has hinted at wanting to, trying to write a science-fiction epic...but for the moment, we'll stick to rereading the incandescent stories in This Is How You Lose Her.


If you haven't yet, do spare a moment for Díiaz's recent conversation with fellow writer Francisco Goldman about why he writes:


"I guess we all have our covenants with the world (or at least we should have). For people like my mother, it's her religion. For other people, it's their children or perhaps their families. For me storytelling is my sacred. About the only covenant I have. As reader and writer I believe in the infinite worldmaking power of stories. I'm with Leslie Marmon Silko when she says in Ceremony: 'I will tell you something about stories, (he said). They aren't just entertainment. Don't be fooled. They are all we have, you see, all we have to fight off illness and death.' If I have a faith, that's it. Stories are all we have to fight off illness and death."




Dahl Delivered

Somehow, despite haunting three different libraries in search of works of a fantastical nature, I never chanced upon the books of Roald Dahl while still in elementary school. And they began to appear precisely when I would have truly savored them. James and the Giant Peach, the first, was published in 1961, the year I finished first grade. A little too advanced for me then but surely still discoverable on the shelves two or three years later. But no, I chanced to encounter Dahl only in high school, with his "adult" stories. I still recall the thrill of picking up Switch Bitch in a used book store in the small bohemia adjacent to Brown University. Enjoyable, sure, but not a patch on the YA stuff.


July 25: On this day in 1834 Samuel Taylor Coleridge died of heart disease at the age of sixty-one.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.


When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).