"[These essays] reflect a lively, unselfconscious, rigorous, erudite, and earnestly open mind that's busy refining its view of life, literature, and a great deal in between." --Los Angeles Times Split into five sections--Reading, Being, Seeing, Feeling, and Remembering--Changing My Mind finds Zadie Smith casting an acute eye over material both personal and cultural. This engaging collection of essays, some published here for the first time, reveals Smith as a passionate and precise essayist, equally at home in the world of great books and bad movies, family and philosophy, British comedians and Italian divas. Whether writing on Katherine Hepburn, Kafka, Anna Magnani, or Zora Neale Hurston, she brings deft care to the art of criticism with a style both sympathetic and insightful. Changing My Mind is journalism at its most expansive, intelligent, and funny--a gift to readers and writers both. Zadie Smith’s newest novel, Swing Time, will be published by Penguin Press in November 2016. From the Trade Paperback edition.
A stellar host of writers explore the cornerstone of fiction writing: character The Book of Other People is about character. Twenty-five or so outstanding writers have been asked by Zadie Smith to make up a fictional character. By any measure, creating character is at the heart of the fictional enterprise, and this book concentrates on writers who share a talent for making something recognizably human out of words (and, in the case of the graphic novelists, pictures). But the purpose of the book is variety: straight "realism"-if such a thing exists-is not the point. There are as many ways to create character as there are writers, and this anthology features a rich assortment of exceptional examples. The writers featured in The Book of Other People include: Aleksandar Hemon Nick Hornby Hari Kunzru Toby Litt David Mitchell George Saunders Colm Tóibín Chris Ware, and more Read Zadie Smith’s newest novel, Swing Time. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Alex-Li Tandem sells autographs. His business is to hunt for names on paper, collect them, sell them, and occasionally fake them—all to give the people what they want: a little piece of Fame. But what does Alex want? Only the return of his father, the end of religion, something for his headache, three different girls, infinite grace, and the rare autograph of forties movie actress Kitty Alexander. With fries. The Autograph Man is a deeply funny existential tour around the hollow trappings of modernity: celebrity, cinema, and the ugly triumph of symbol over experience. It offers further proof that Zadie Smith is one of the most staggeringly talented writers of her generation. Look for her new book Swing Time, coming November 2016. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Why do we fall in love with the people we do? Why do we visit our mistakes on our children? What makes life truly beautiful? Set in New England mainly and London partly, On Beauty concerns a pair of feuding families—the Belseys and the Kippses—and a clutch of doomed affairs. It puts low morals among high ideals and asks some searching questions about what life does to love. For the Belseys and the Kippses, the confusions—both personal and political—of our uncertain age are about to be brought close to home: right to the heart of family.
Zadie Smith’s dazzling debut caught critics grasping for comparisons and deciding on everyone from Charles Dickens to Salman Rushdie to John Irving and Martin Amis. But the truth is that Zadie Smith’s voice is remarkably, fluently, and altogether wonderfully her own. Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read At the center of this invigorating novel are two unlikely friends, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal. Hapless veterans of World War II, Archie and Samad and their families become agents of England’s irrevocable transformation. A second marriage to Clara Bowden, a beautiful, albeit tooth-challenged, Jamaican half his age, quite literally gives Archie a second lease on life, and produces Irie, a knowing child whose personality doesn’t quite match her name (Jamaican for “no problem”). Samad’s late-in-life arranged marriage (he had to wait for his bride to be born), produces twin sons whose separate paths confound Iqbal’s every effort to direct them, and a renewed, if selective, submission to his Islamic faith. Set against London’ s racial and cultural tapestry, venturing across the former empire and into the past as it barrels toward the future, White Teeth revels in the ecstatic hodgepodge of modern life, flirting with disaster, confounding expectations, and embracing the comedy of daily existence.
“A stimulating combination of literary criticism, essay, and fiction” (The New Yorker) from the incomparable Ali Smith Artful is a celebration of literature’s worth in and to the world—it is about the things art can do, the things art is made of, and the quicksilver nature of all artfulness. A magical hybrid that refuses to be tied down to either fiction or the essay form, Artful is narrated by a character who is haunted—literally—by a former lover, the writer of a series of lectures about art and literature. Ali Smith’s heady powers as a novelist and short story writer harmonize with her keen perceptions as a reader and critic to form a living thing that reminds us that life and art are never separate.
Rivka Galchen’s Little Labors is a droll and dazzling compendium of observations, stories, lists, and brief essays about babies and literature Sei Shonagon’s Pillow Book—a key inspiration for Rivka Galchen’s new book—contains a list of “Things That Make One Nervous.” And wouldn’t the blessed event top almost anyone’s list? Little Labors is a slanted, enchanted literary miscellany. Varying in length from just a sentence or paragraph to a several-page story or essay, Galchen’s puzzle pieces assemble into a shining, unpredictable, mordant picture of the ordinary-extraordinary nature of babies and literature. Anecdotal or analytic, each part opens up an odd and tender world of wonder. The 47 Ronin; the black magic of maternal love; babies morphing from pumas to chickens; the quasi-repellent concept of “women writers”; origami-ophilia in Oklahoma as a gateway drug to a lifelong obsession with Japan; discussions of favorite passages from the Heian masterpieces Genji and The Pillow Book; the frightening prevalence of orange as today’s new chic color for baby gifts; Frankenstein as a sort of baby; babies gold mines; babies as tiny Godzillas … Little Labors–atomized and exploratory, conceptually byzantine and freshly forthright–delights.
Reading is a revolutionary act, an act of engagement in a culture that wants us to disengage. In The Lost Art of Reading, David L. Ulin asks a number of timely questions - why is literature important? What does it offer, especially now? Blending commentary with memoir, Ulin addresses the importance of the simple act of reading in an increasingly digital culture. Reading a book, flipping through hard pages, or shuffling them on screen - it doesn't matter. The key is the act of reading, and it's seriousness and depth. Ulin emphasizes the importance of reflection and pause allowed by stopping to read a book, and the accompanying focus required to let the mind run free in a world that is not one's own. Are we willing to risk our collective interest in contemplation, nuanced thinking, and empathy? Far from preaching to the choir, The Lost Art of Reading is a call to arms, or rather, to pages.
Passionate, strong-minded nonfiction from the National Book Award-winning author of The Corrections Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections was the best-loved and most-written-about novel of 2001. Nearly every in-depth review of it discussed what became known as "The Harper's Essay," Franzen's controversial 1996 investigation of the fate of the American novel. This essay is reprinted for the first time in How to be Alone, along with the personal essays and the dead-on reportage that earned Franzen a wide readership before the success of The Corrections. Although his subjects range from the sex-advice industry to the way a supermax prison works, each piece wrestles with familiar themes of Franzen's writing: the erosion of civic life and private dignity and the hidden persistence of loneliness in postmodern, imperial America. Recent pieces include a moving essay on his father's stuggle with Alzheimer's disease (which has already been reprinted around the world) and a rueful account of Franzen's brief tenure as an Oprah Winfrey author. As a collection, these essays record what Franzen calls "a movement away from an angry and frightened isolation toward an acceptance--even a celebration--of being a reader and a writer." At the same time they show the wry distrust of the claims of technology and psychology, the love-hate relationship with consumerism, and the subversive belief in the tragic shape of the individual life that help make Franzen one of our sharpest, toughest, and most entertaining social critics.
SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE, STARRING JASON SEGAL AND JESSE EISENBERG, DIRECTED BY JAMES PONSOLDT An indelible portrait of David Foster Wallace, by turns funny and inspiring, based on a five-day trip with award-winning writer David Lipsky during Wallace’s Infinite Jest tour In David Lipsky’s view, David Foster Wallace was the best young writer in America. Wallace’s pieces for Harper’s magazine in the ’90s were, according to Lipsky, “like hearing for the first time the brain voice of everybody I knew: Here was how we all talked, experienced, thought. It was like smelling the damp in the air, seeing the first flash from a storm a mile away. You knew something gigantic was coming.” Then Rolling Stone sent Lipsky to join Wallace on the last leg of his book tour for Infinite Jest, the novel that made him internationally famous. They lose to each other at chess. They get iced-in at an airport. They dash to Chicago to catch a make-up flight. They endure a terrible reader’s escort in Minneapolis. Wallace does a reading, a signing, an NPR appearance. Wallace gives in and imbibes titanic amounts of hotel television (what he calls an “orgy of spectation”). They fly back to Illinois, drive home, walk Wallace’s dogs. Amid these everyday events, Wallace tells Lipsky remarkable things—everything he can about his life, how he feels, what he thinks, what terrifies and fascinates and confounds him—in the writing voice Lipsky had come to love. Lipsky took notes, stopped envying him, and came to feel about him—that grateful, awake feeling—the same way he felt about Infinite Jest. Then Lipsky heads to the airport, and Wallace goes to a dance at a Baptist church. A biography in five days, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself is David Foster Wallace as few experienced this great American writer. Told in his own words, here is Wallace’s own story, and his astonishing, humane, alert way of looking at the world; here are stories of being a young writer—of being young generally—trying to knit together your ideas of who you should be and who other people expect you to be, and of being young in March of 1996. And of what it was like to be with and—as he tells it—what it was like to become David Foster Wallace. "If you can think of times in your life that you’ve treated people with extraordinary decency and love, and pure uninterested concern, just because they were valuable as human beings. The ability to do that with ourselves. To treat ourselves the way we would treat a really good, precious friend. Or a tiny child of ours that we absolutely loved more than life itself. And I think it’s probably possible to achieve that. I think part of the job we’re here for is to learn how to do it. I know that sounds a little pious." —David Foster Wallace From the Trade Paperback edition.
Novels which transform our ideas about human possibilities, biographies which celebrate the achievements of extraordinary individuals, polemical works of non-fiction which oblige us to alter our views of the world or of human society: all of us can remember reading at least one book which made us think about the world anew. Here, the author of the popular Bloomsbury Good Reading Guide, selects the very best books which may or may not have changed the world, but which have certainly changed the lives of thousands of people who have read them. Some examples of titles included: Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - a poignant recording of the author's triumph over the obstacles of being black and poor in a racist society. Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist. Santiago's meeting with the alchemist opens his eyes to the true values of life, love and suffering The Diary of Anne Frank Half a century later the story of a teenager coming to maturity in the most terrible of circumstances remains profoundly moving. Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet Gibran's poetic essays reveal his thoughts on everything in life from love and marriage to the enigmas of birth and death. Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Pirsig's narrator creates a philosophical masterpiece that has the power to change lives.
What will 21st century fiction look like? Acclaimed literary critic Adam Kirsch examines some of our most beloved writers, including Haruki Murakami, Elena Ferrante, Roberto Bolano, and Margaret Atwood, to better understand literature in the age of globalization. The global novel, he finds, is not so much a genre as a way of imagining the world, one that allows the novel to address both urgent contemporary concerns -- climate change, genetic engineering, and immigration -- along with timeless themes, such as morality, society, and human relationships. Whether its stories take place on the scale of the species or the small town, the global novel situates its characters against the widest background of the imagination. The way we live now demands nothing less than the global perspective our best novelists have to offer.
Suck It, Wonder Woman! brings Olivia Munn's unique humor, incredible wit, and lightning-fast costume changes to a world that needs more scrapbooking, sea monkeys, and for the love of God, a freakin' hoverboard! In this hilarious collection you'll find essays like "thought's About My First Agent's Girlfriend's Vagina," wherein Olivia skewers what it's like to live in Hollywood. In "Sex: What You Can Do to Help Yourself Have More of It," she frankly gets down to the business of getting it on, including advice on how to appropriately wrap it and bag it. In "What to Do When the Robots Invade (Yes, When!)," Olivia offers valuable information on . . . what to do when the robots invade! And just when you thought she couldn't get any more geeky, she can. This book also includes such handy treasures as a timeline of great moments in Geek history, a flip book, an unofficial FAQ section, and a nifty (read: smokin') foldout poster.
From the New York Times bestselling author—the shooting script to his award-winning film, with an original Introduction and vivid stills from the movie. Jenny is a 16-year-old girl stifled by the tedium of adolescence; she can’t wait for her sophisticated adult life to begin. One rainy day her suburban existence is upended by the arrival of David, a much older suitor who introduces her to a glittering new world of concerts, art, smoky bars, urban nightlife, and his glamorous friends, replacing her traditional education with his own version. It could be her awakening—or her undoing. This edition of Hornby’s adapted screenplay, which includes stills from the film, is a perfect accompaniment to the highly anticipated movie, which stars Carey Mulligan as Jenny, Peter Sarsgaard, Emma Thompson, Dominic Cooper, and Alfred Molina. It is a must-have for fans of Hornby’s novels, featuring his signature pitch-perfect dialogue, mordant wit, and the resonant humanity of his writing. Watch a Video
The revered yoga instructor and author of Yoga Body, Buddha Mind reveals her own struggles with body image and the student-prompted journey of self-discovery that led her to visit other world regions including the drought-stricken Indian countryside and the center of the 2011 earthquake in Japan, where she practiced the Buddhist philosophy of loving-kindness and received counsel from wise women mentors.
"A warm, generous and hilarious guide through the writer's world and its treacherous swamps." --Los Angeles Times Advice on writing and on life from an acclaimed bestselling author: "Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'"
David Foster Wallace made an art of taking readers into places no other writer even gets near. The series of stories from which this exuberantly acclaimed book takes its title is a sequence of imagined interviews with men on the subject of their relations with women. These portraits of men at their most self-justifying, loquacious, and benighted explore poignantly and hilariously the agonies of sexual connections.
Following The Broken Estate, The Irresponsible Self, and How Fiction Works—books that established James Wood as the leading critic of his generation—The Fun Stuff confirms Wood's preeminence, not only as a discerning judge but also as an appreciator of the contemporary novel. In twenty-three passionate, sparkling dispatches—that range over such crucial writers as Thomas Hardy, Leon Tolstoy, Edmund Wilson, and Mikhail Lermontov—Wood offers a panoramic look at the modern novel. He effortlessly connects his encyclopedic, passionate understanding of the literary canon with an equally in-depth analysis of the most important authors writing today, including Cormac McCarthy, Lydia Davis, Aleksandar Hemon, and Michel Houellebecq. Included in The Fun Stuff are the title essay on Keith Moon and the lost joys of drumming—which was a finalist for last year's National Magazine Awards—as well as Wood's essay on George Orwell, which Christopher Hitchens selected for the Best American Essays 2010. The Fun Stuff is indispensable reading for anyone who cares about contemporary literature.