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Posts Tagged ‘Toni Morrison

“What’s the point of having great knowledge and keeping them all to yourself?”*…

 

One of the most attractive books in history, a colossal best seller, everybody knows this, The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Really successful book, believe me. Why F.? I put my initial in the middle, I think it’s more normal that way, but everybody has his own style…

From the glorious Sherman Oaks Review of Books, an imagination of Donald Trump’s review of The Great Gatsby: “Celebrity Book Reviews: Donald on Scott.”

[image above: source]

* Donald J. Trump, Why We Want You To Be Rich: Two Men, One Message

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As we rethink the classics, we might send send elegiac birthday greetings to James Arthur Baldwin; he was born on this date in 1924.  A novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic, he charted the unspoken but palpable intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th-century America, and their inevitable tensions.  His essays (e.g., Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time) and his novels (perhaps especially Giovanni’s Room) shaped a generation of writers.  Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison eulogized Baldwin in The New York Times:

You knew, didn’t you, how I needed your language and the mind that formed it? How I relied on your fierce courage to tame wildernesses for me? How strengthened I was by the certainty that came from knowing you would never hurt me? You knew, didn’t you, how I loved your love? You knew. This then is no calamity. No. This is jubilee. “Our crown,” you said, “has already been bought and paid for. All we have to do,” you said, “is wear it.”

 source

 

Written by LW

August 2, 2016 at 1:01 am

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are”*…

 

There are all sorts of theories and ideas about what constitutes a good opening line. It’s tricky thing, and tough to talk about because I don’t think conceptually while I work on a first draft — I just write. To get scientific about it is a little like trying to catch moonbeams in a jar.

But there’s one thing I’m sure about. An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this….

When I’m starting a book, I compose in bed before I go to sleep. I will lie there in the dark and think. I’ll try to write a paragraph. An opening paragraph. And over a period of weeks and months and even years, I’ll word and reword it until I’m happy with what I’ve got. If I can get that first paragraph right, I’ll know I can do the book…

– Stephen King (click here for full interview)

Find inspiration– or just enjoyment– at Kick Ass Ledes (“Your Daily Fix of Damn Good Opening Lines”).

Readers can follow KAL on Twitter… and noticing the the skew there toward long-form non-fiction and short stories, can further explore the implications of Mr. King’s advice in other, more novel-centric lists (e.g., here).

* W. Somerset Maugham

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As we sharpen our pencils, we might send carefully-composed birthday greetings to Chloe Ardelia Wofford; she was born on this date in 1931.  A convert to catholicism at age 12, she took the baptismal name “Anthony,” which family and friends shortened to “Toni”; then at age 27, she married George Morrison…. so it was as Toni Morrison that she published her first novel, The Bluest Eye, in 1970.  She went on to write 9 more novels (including Beloved and Song of Solomon), a number of non-fiction books, a pair of plays, a host of essays, and an opera libretto– all while serving as a university professor at Howard, SUNY, Rutgers, and now Princeton.  She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for Beloved, the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

They shoot the white girl first.

– Toni Morrison, (the first line of) Paradise

 source

Written by LW

February 18, 2014 at 1:01 am

Covered…

 

Your correspondent is off to Grits-A-Palooza, the annual festival of deep frying held amidst the dunes of the Barrier Islands.  Consequently, regular service will be interrupted until August 12 or so.  But lest readers fret, here is something to occupy the interim:

In February of 1966, Nancy Sinatra released her recording of Lee Hazlewood’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking”: an instant success, the single hit #! on the Billboard charts in both the U.S. and the U.K. that same month, and did equally well around the world.

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Since then, the song has taken on a life of its own: it’s been covered and released in styles ranging from country and swing, through metal, pop, rock, and punk, to dance and industrial.  “Dying For Bad Music” has helpfully collected 172 of these versions– all available to hear here.

It’s tough to choose a favorite:  Siouxsie’s version has sentimental appeal; KMFDM sets the industrial standard… but how to understand David Hasselhoff’s version, or Megadeath’s?  In the end, your correspondent has to go with the always-astounding Residents’ version

But, of course, the more important question is:  what do you choose?

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As we tap our (steel) toes, we might send elegant birthday greetings to James Arthur Baldwin; he was born on this date in 1924.  A novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic of extraordinary insight and grace, Baldwin is best known for his novels Go Tell It On The Mountain and Giovanni’s Room, and for essays like those collected in The Fire Next Time.

Baldwin was a friend and collaborator of folks as various as Richard Avedon (his high school classmate), Marlon Brando, Charlton Heston, Billy Dee Williams, Huey Newton, Nikki Giovanni, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Genet, Lee Strasberg, Elia Kazan, Rip Torn, Alex Haley, Miles Davis, Amiri Baraka, Martin Luther King, Jr., Margaret Mead, Josephine Baker, Allen Ginsberg, Maya Angelou, and Toni Morrison.  Indeed, Nobel Laureate Morrison credits Baldwin with being “her literary inspiration, the person who showed her the true potential of writing”; in her eulogy for Baldwin she said:

You knew, didn’t you, how I needed your language and the mind that formed it? How I relied on your fierce courage to tame wildernesses for me? How strengthened I was by the certainty that came from knowing you would never hurt me? You knew, didn’t you, how I loved your love? You knew. This then is no calamity. No. This is jubilee. Our crown, you said, has already been bought and paid for. All we have to do, you said, is wear it.

Carl Van Vechten’s portrait of Baldwin

source

Written by LW

August 2, 2013 at 1:01 am

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