A parable or a knife?

So once again, here’s the current primary-source list for my post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels course (now titled “Coming of Age at the End of the World”). I dropped 1984, but reread The Giver this week — it really is the archetypal YA dystopian, Christ imagery and abrupt ending and all. The Giver, Lois Lowry Riddley…

Hipster Book Club holiday gift guide

This is possibly the best thing I’ve found on the internet lately, and I’m not even saying that because Alcestis is included in it: the Hipster Book Club’s holiday gift guide. Ten pages of quirky, funny book recommendations, with categories from “Geek Love” to “Ladies’ Choice” to “General Fiction.” If you want to buy books…

Zadie Smith as obscure object of desire?

On Twitter today, I saw an approving link to Alexis Madrigal’s response to Zadie Smith’s fine essay on Facebook and The Social Network (which I wrote about a little while ago). The title of Madrigal’s piece mentions literary writers and social media, and I’m always up for thinky writing about those things, so I spent…

Facebook and its discontents

Zadie Smith’s essay on The Social Network, Facebook, and Mark Zuckerberg in the NYRB is smart, surprising, and well worth reading. Especially this bit, in which she speculates about Zuckerberg’s actual motivations (given that the invented dramatic motivations the film ascribes to him don’t seem very accurate): Maybe it’s not mysterious and he’s just playing…

Wrapping up the fiction course

The last two weeks of the fiction class I’m teaching are essentially solid workshop. We’ve had a few breaks to discuss general questions about writing and one very good discussion about “Hills Like White Elephants” (including a bit of a digression re: absinthe, the legality and appeal thereof), but it’s almost all student fiction at…

‘Inception’ redux

I went to see Inception for a second time, in an IMAX theatre. Several things happened: I enjoyed it more this time than the first time. It really is a lovely-looking movie. I got to hear an even larger audience of people sigh frustratedly in unison at the final scene. I still don’t get this,…

Crazy and unlikely and unusual

This week, my students are workshopping their first pieces of fiction (and doing an excellent job of it). After a week and a half of class every day, I think we’re all starting to realize that an intensive summer fiction workshop will, in fact, be intensive. For all of us. But with judicious applications of…

Whew.

My first week of teaching is over! Or sort of over — my students just turned in their first assignments, so I’ll be reading those this weekend. We spent most of this week reading and discussing published short fiction and we begin workshopping their own work on Monday. I am very sleepy this morning, not…

The Hellenistic period on film

Today, found this lovely blog about period dramas (with which, as my Netflix queue would show you, I am totally obsessed). One of the entries on the front page at the moment is a review of Alejandro Aménabar’s Agora, a film about Hypatia, the Alexandrian scholar of mathematics, philosophy and astronomy murdered by a mob…