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Posts Tagged ‘novel

“If you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered”*…

 

Perhaps understandably, most people tend to ignore scraps of paper they see lying on the ground. But Sydney-based artist Laura Sullivan has always found herself intrigued by the promise of scrawled handwriting, and has been picking up stray to-do lists, IOUs, poems, and angry letters for the past twelve years.Now, a selection of the 400 notes she has collected in public spaces around the world will be exhibited in a gallery show that puts the intimate concerns of anonymous strangers on display for all to see…

The serendipitous story in full at “Turns out, Other People’s Shopping Lists Are Oddly Poignant.”

* Edgar Allan Poe

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As we celebrate chance, we might send thrilling birthday greetings to Ross Thomas; he was born on this date in 1926.  The author of 20 novels under his own name, and another six as “Oliver Bleeck,” Thomas specialized in building yarns around the machinations of professional politics and the intrigues of global corporations– so successfully that he is considered by many to be the Len Deighton or John Le Carre of the U.S.– only funnier. As the Village Voice put it, “what Elmore Leonard does for crime in the streets, Ross Thomas does for crime in the suites.”  His debut novel, The Cold War Swap, won the 1967 Edgar Award for Best First Novel; Briarpatch earned the 1985 Edgar for Best Novel; and in 2002, he was honored with the inaugural Gumshoe Lifetime Achievement Award, one of only two authors to earn the award posthumously (the other was 87th Precinct author Ed McBain in 2006).

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Written by LW

February 19, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt”*…

 

The word “photography” might bring to mind the stark granite of an Ansel Adams photograph, or perhaps the memory of a childhood vacation. But the camera is also a scientific tool, whose progress can, in one sense, be measured by its ability to freeze ever-smaller fragments of time for our observation. In 1826, Joseph-Nicéphore Niépce needed at least eight hours to create an imprint of the view from the upstairs window of his Burgundy chateau onto a pewter plate coated with bitumen. Today, we can capture photos with an exposure time of a trillionth of a second, and are at the brink of attosecond photography—that is, snapshots taken 10 billion trillion times faster than those first grainy images in the east of France…

Click through a collection of photographic images that, at the time they were taken, were breakthroughs in speed at “Photographing Time.

* Susan Sontag

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As we stop the clock, we might send hard-boiled birthday greetings to Frank Morrison “Mickey” Spillane; he was born on this date in 1918.  A writer who cut his teeth on comic books, Spillane moved to crime novels, many featuring his signature detective character, Mike Hammer.  Early reaction to Spillane’s work was generally hostile: Malcolm Cowley dismissed the Mike Hammer character as “a homicidal paranoiac”, John G. Cawelti called Spillane’s writing “atrocious”, and Julian Symons called Spillane’s work “nauseating.”  (By contrast, Ayn Rand publicly praised Spillane’s work, though she later publicly repudiated what she regarded as the amorality of Spillane’s Tiger Mann stories.)   But the public was altogether enthusiastic: more than 225 million copies of his books have sold internationally; and in a 1980 survey, Spillane was responsible for seven of the top 15 all-time best-selling fiction titles in the U.S.  Still, by the late 90s his novels had gone out of print– Spillane had begun supporting himself by appearing in Miller Lite commercials– and remained unavailable until the the New American Library began reissuing them in 2001.

“Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar…”

Mickey Spillane, as a guest star on Columbo.

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Written by LW

March 9, 2015 at 1:01 am

“All the effort in the world won’t matter if you’re not inspired”*…

 

More weird wisdom at Werner Herzog Inspirationals

* Chuck Palahniuk, Diary

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As we study Stuart Smalley, we might recall that it was on this date in 1616 that Cervantes’ Los Trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda (The Works of Persiles and Sigismunda) was accepted for publication.  A departure from the celebration of the commonplace in his Don Quixote, the Persiles is a romance– a Byzantine novel– full of fantasy.  Cervantes, who had died three days after finishing the manuscript, believed it to be his crowning achievement.

The cover of the first edition, which appeared the following year (1617)

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Written by LW

December 15, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Life swarms with innocent monsters”*…

 

Julia Pastrana, a woman from Mexico born with hypertrichosis, became one of the most famous human curiosities of the 19th century, exhibited the world over as a “bearded lady” while both alive and dead. Bess Lovejoy explores her story and how it was only in 2013, 153 years after her passing, that she was finally laid to rest…

Read through to the too-long-delayed happy ending at “Julia Pastrana: A ‘Monster to the Whole World’.”

* Charles Baudelaire

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As we celebrate humanity in its rich totality, we might recall that it was on this date in 1859 that Wilkie Collin’s The Woman In White began its serial run in Charles Dickens’ magazine All the Year Round (in the UK; it began an American run three days earlier in Harper’s Weekly).  Among the first mystery novels (and the first–and arguably the finest– in the genre of “sensation novels“), it was published in book form in 1860.

Cover of first US edition

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Written by LW

November 29, 2014 at 1:01 am

“I confess, I do not believe in time”*…

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The automatic analysis of sentiment in text is fast changing the way we interpret and interact with words. On Twitter, for example, researchers have begun to gauge the mood of entire nations by analysing the emotional content of the tweets people generate.

In the same way, other researchers have started to measure the “emotional temperature” of novels by counting the density of words associated with the eight basic emotions of anticipation, anger, joy, fear, disgust, sadness, surprise and trust.

All this automation is possible thanks to new databases that rate words according to their emotional value.

Now Hannah Davis at New York University and Saif Mohammad at the National Research Council Canada have gone a step further. These guys have used the same kind of analysis to measure the way the emotional temperature changes throughout a novels and then automatically generated music that reflects these moods and how they evolve throughout the book.

They say their new algorithm, TransProse, will change the way we interact with information. “The work has applications in information visualization, in creating audio-visual e-books, and in developing music apps,” they say…

Judge for yourself:  read on at “The Music Composed By An Algorithm Analysing The World’s Best Novels“; check out the research at arXiv.org; and then listen to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Lord of the Flies, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and A Clockwork Orange.

* Vladimir Nabokov, novelist and noted “sufferer” of synaesthesia

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As we hum along, we might recall that it was on this date in 1928 that D.H. Lawrence, writing to Aldous Huxley, judged prolific non-fiction author and novelist Arnold Bennett “a pig in clover.”  Exactly three years later, on this date in 1931, Bennett died of typhoid at age 64, after drinking water in a Paris hotel to demonstrate to companions that it was safe.

The next night Virginia Woolf noted in her diary, “Queer how one regrets the dispersal of anybody…who had direct contact with life — for he abused me; & yet I rather wished him to go on abusing me; & me abusing him.”

Arnold Bennett

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Written by LW

March 27, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others…”*

 

One of a wonderful series of Faces in Things.

* Jonathan Swift

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As we endeavor to follow Schopenhauer’s good advice, we might send amusing birthday greetings to Aron Ettore Schmitz; he was born on this date in 1861.  Much better known by his pen name, Italo Svevo (though not so nearly well known as he deserves to be), Schmitz was a successful businessman and aspiring writer who drew James Joyce as an English tutor during Joyce’s sojourn as a Berlitz instructor in Trieste.  Joyce admired Schmitz’s first (and largely ignored) novel Senilità. Years later Schmitz failed to find an Italian publisher for his second novel and ultimately self-published; Joyce, by then in Paris, had the text translated into French and intervened with his publisher to secure a release.  The novel, La Coscienza di Zeno (The Confessions of Zeno, or Zeno’s Conscience as a later English translation has it) was such a critical success that the then-dean of Italian critics, Eugenio Montale, discovered it, and Schmitz’s novel got a commercial release in Italy.  

Zeno Cosini, the novel’s hero, a businessman fascinated by Freudian theory, mirrored Schmitz– who was also a model for Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Joyce’s Ulysses.

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Written by LW

December 19, 2013 at 1:01 am

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