♦ Book Nook.
This past week AlphaBooks, an alphabetical tumblr exploration of fictional characters curated by Ben Towle, has moved to the J’s. While I enjoyed several—including Ben Towle‘s “J is for Jonathan Strange” from Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke and the rather grim “J is for James Potter” by Kelly Williams—I really liked “J is for Jane Eyre” by Andrés Denkberg:
The reading lists of your favorite fictional characters: Rory Gilmore, Margot Tenenbaum, Daria, Don Draper, Matilda Wormwood, Lisa Simpson, Stewie Griffin, Sawyer, Jean-Luc PIcard, and Lucas Scott.
Feast your ocular jellies on these fine short stories available online:
My friend Will Ludwigsen has a new Postcard Story: Treading the Boards. I’ve been remiss in noting that Will has a new short-story collection, In Search Of and Others, coming out 1 March 2013. (I’ve already pre-ordered my copy; why don’t you?)
I loved Flowers in the Attic when I was 13, too. I think I read that entire series. This information probably explains a lot.
♦ Flavorwire had a nice post about famous authors and their tattoos, including Kathy Acker, Kevin Wilson, John Irving, Patti Smith, Rick Moody, China Miéville, Jonathan Lethem, Harry Crews, and Elizabeth Hand, who also posted on Facebook a link to an article about the Amsterdam Tattoo Museum, which features the macabre and the beautiful.
♦ Myriapod Productions is planning 26 episodes in their Mysteries of Vernacular series (each short-short film will be based around a letter of the alphabet), and after watching “Clue” I’m eager to see more. (The website linked to above is cleverly designed for bibliophiles). Via.
♦ The Seven Deadly Sins animated by French artist Boulet—too, too funny! You have to click through to see them.
♦ Terran Lane, former professor at the University of New Mexico, writes about leaving academia. He lays out a lot of the problems the profession finds itself mired in (try to ignore most of the comments, which get off track as comments have a habit of doing). Thanks to my friend Marnie Dresser for the link.
♦ She Blinded Me…with Science!
None of Einstein’s theories could explain his marionette. But, really, does one need to explain a marionette?
Which is bigger: the Universe or the human brain? I would have guessed the brain.
Why do we hate seeing photos of ourselves? And I thought it was just because I hate having bits of my soul looking back at me.
Why do so many “unhealthy” people live to see 100? I wish the answer was throwing my face into a cake. Actually, that might be the answer.
So-called “dullest culture on Earth” frowns upon sex and bans play, and some anthropologists therefore name them “‘unstudiable’ because of their failure to do anything interesting.” Sounds fairly Puritan to me. However, the Baining as described in the article are more interesting than not!
Amazing what you can do with paint! A Parisienne game store’s painted floor (via):
♦ Viewers’ Paradise.
You fans of American Horror Story: I hate to break it to you, but it doesn’t look like there’s going to be any ghosts in season 2.
Movie trailers! And all literary adaptations. First up is a trailer for the French movie Chicken with Plums, co-directed by Marjane Satrapi (on whose graphic novel the movie is based) and Vincent Paronnaud. The film will be released next month, and here’s the description:
Since his beloved violin was broken, Nasser Ali Khan, one of the most renowned musicians of his day, has lost all taste for life. Finding no instrument worthy of replacing it, he decides to confine himself to bed to await death. As he hopes for its arrival, he plunges into deep reveries, with dreams as melancholic as they are joyous, taking him back to his youth and even to a conversation with Azrael, the Angel of Death, who reveals the future of his children…
Next up is Life of Pi, based on the novel by Yann Martel and directed by awesome Ang Lee. Visually stunning. Headed to theaters in December.
And what’s been blowing up the blogosphere: the trailer for Cloud Atlas, based on the novel by David Mitchell and directed by Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, and Lana Wachowski (the film hits theaters in October). I don’t remember even hearing about this book when it first came out, but I’m fascinated by what I’ve read about its structure:
An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.
Also, this trailer looks really gorgeous.
♦ The Ninth Art.
If you’re a fan of Archie comics and Wonder Woman, you’ll enjoy this illustration of the Amazing Amazon by Bill Walko in the style of Archie artist Dan DeCarlo.
Another new edition of The Secret Knots by Juan Santapau: Kaiju Life!
Neil Gaiman posted some comic book cover mash-ups of Death and superheroes on his tumblr. They’re from The Super Team Family Blog (which mashes together a lot of Marvel and DC characters), which is a lot of fun.
♦ Writers’ Corner.
Elizabeth Spann Craig offered a comparison of what traditional publishers offer and what they don’t.
I enjoyed this Inkpunks post about Why Write Short Stories?
LitReactor asked the agent: what state of completion does your manuscript have to be in when you start querying (plus info on query letter word counts and more). Spoiler alert: complete. Also, LitReactor has a great list (librarian approved!) of research guides for every subject.
Letters of Note had a wonderful, wonderful letter from editor Ursula Nordstrom to Maurice Sendak, which was encouraging and supportive and everything you’d want from an editor. One of my favorite parts of many:
That is the creative artist—a penalty of the creative artist—wanting to make order out of chaos. The rest of us plain people just accept disorder (if we even recognize it) and get a bang out of our five beautiful senses, if we’re lucky.
I liked this interview with David Remnick, editor-in-chief of The New Yorker, about writing profiles, though he has some sensible thoughts about writing in general, like “If you’re really self-satisfied all the time, you’re probably a lousy writer.” (Via)
Chuck Wendig set out 25 things you should know about antagonists.
Will mentioned this site on Facebook: The Epiguide.com Character Chart for Fiction Writers by Kira Lerner and Toni Walker. You might find its thoroughness useful!
Krissy Brady offers 5 ways to keep your writing submissions organized. (I use Duotrope myself, which is on her list, and I really like it.) She also provided a list of 7 prompt websites to fill your creative writing well (I’d also recommend signing up for Figment Daily Themes, which emails you a writing prompt every morning).
Brady also had a great post on how being lazy can fuel your writing. What I found most interesting (and personally relevant) was her discussion of stress and its impact on writing (or any art-making), especially this quotation she provides from Natalie Goldberg, which I related to all too well:
Stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath. I had too many things to do when I taught, and I felt the tension between those responsibilities and wanting to write. My time was diced up into minutes and hours rather than seasons and the movement of the moon and sun. Stress is an ignorant state. It believes everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. Just lie down.
♦ Today is Kate Bush’s birthday, and in celebration I offer you some of my favorite Kate Bush music. First is a brief instrumental, “One Last Look Around the House Before We Go,” which might in truth be my most favorite Kate Bush music—and that’s saying a lot because I really love Kate Bush. “One Last Look” was one of the B-sides for the song “Love and Anger” on The Sensual World album (1990) and was originally written for a British television program.
The second is “The Sensual World,” which is also one of my favorite music videos. The title track from the album with the same name, “The Sensual World” was inspired by Molly Bloom’s soliloquy at the end of Ulysses by James Joyce. Bush had wanted to use the actual words from the novel, but the Joyce estate refused to give her permission, and so she wrote her own lyrics. (Last year, Bush released a new album, Director’s Cut, that included a revision of “The Sensual World” using Molly’s soliloquy.)
Oh, so many other wonderful choices! But I’ll give you only one more song, I promise: “Waking the Witch” is from the album Hounds of Love (1985) and is part of the fantastic suite “The Ninth Wave,” all the songs of which tell the story of a young woman lost in the water at night and trying to stay awake long enough to be rescued.