Jonathan Franzen’s ‘Freedom’: Enjoy the amusing Washington novel inside

As if the stolen glasses weren’t enough, Jonathan Franzen is in the news for not making the final cut in the National Book Awards. I myself have mixed feelings about Freedom, but mostly like it. Granted, events and outcomes happen with a little assist from coincidence. But you can accuse Dickens of the same. What’s […]

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Philip Roth’s new novel: A do-it-yourself ‘Nemesis,’ plus a few thoughts on Roth vs. e-books

Philip Roth was an evil literary influence on me. I don’t write like him, but love his sarcasm, irony and well-crafted dispatches from the battles of the sexes, the very stuff that unsettles Leah Hager Cohen, author of a favorable New York Times review of Nemesis, Roth’s latest novel. Ms. Cohen until recently despised Roth’s […]

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Book promotion wisdom for the Twitter era? Victorian novelist George Gissing on social standing and literary success

"Men won’t succeed in literature that they may get into society, but will get into society that they may succeed in literature." – Jasper Milvain, the social-climbing journalist in George Gissing‘s New Grub Street, his classic about the London literary world more than a century ago. Question: Substitute “Web,” “Facebook” or “Twitter” for “society,” and […]

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‘6 great novels that were hated in their time’: Hope for overlooked novelists and brave readers

What do The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (one book shown), Moby-Dick, The Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, The Grapes of Wrath and Brave New World have in common? Literary critics hated them. So, at least, says Jacopo della Querci’s Cracked piece—must reading for brave readers and overlooked novelists alike. Here’s the […]

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