literature
5

Go Read Alice: The History of the Diary Novel

Recently I was thinking about books from my childhood like Go Ask Alice, Harriet the Spy, and Dracula. In retrospect, these books made outlandish claims to authenticity, but I bought them literally and figuratively because they included supposedly non-fictional diary pages. As a kid, books like Go Ask Alice seem like a curio, but it turns out they belong to a multi-century line of diary novels for girls that awkwardly straddle patriarchy and feminism.

Diary novels are a product of the Victorian era, with their own fully stocked canon and historically specific conventions; it’s an under-attended but significant genre. Most early diary novels were written by clergy who didn't actually [...]

4

Opening Lines of Notable Novels, Diagrammed

Can you diagram a sentence? I definitely cannot, and Madame DuMott, third grade grammar enforcer, would kill me if she knew. Pop Chart Lab went ahead and did the work for a collection of opening lines of notable novels, including Pride and Prejudice. They're nice to look at, even if sentence mapping isn't in your skill set:

8

Better Chipotle Cups

"Starting Thursday, VF Daily can exclusively reveal, bags and cups in Chipotle’s stores will be adorned with original text by [Jonathan Safran] Foer, Malcolm Gladwell, Toni Morrison, George Saunders, and Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Lewis… 'I selected the writers, and insofar as there was any editing, I did it,' Foer said. 'I tried to put together a somewhat eclectic group, in terms of styles. I wanted some that were essayistic, some fiction, some things that were funny, and somewhat thought provoking.'" -VanityFair.com

Some additional suggestions for Foer's consideration below.

4

Bradley Cooper Reviews Paradise Lost

“Milton, bro? Milton. Fuckin’—that was the end of it. Motherfucker’s 57 or whatever, blind, dictating it to his fucking daughter-nurse—Paradise Lost? I mean, I just couldn’t… That poem fucking killed me. Satan? That character was un-fucking-believable. I could taste him in my mouth, dude, reading that. I really, really, for some reason, connected with that poem.”

Bradley Cooper is on the cover of GQ this month. Does this bit make you more or less attracted to him? I honestly can't tell. Maybe if he'd said it in French? [GQ]

2

Popular Young Adult Literature, Revised for Today's Reader

If there is one idea that we can all agree on, it is that all popular literature needs to be re-written once every 25 years or so, so that nobody gets confused by a book’s weird, outdated references to “sanitary napkin belts” or “Spiro T. Agnew.”

This goes doubly so for young adult literature, where older books do actually get updated on the regular. They did it a little bit to Are You There, God?, It’s Me, Margaret? a few years ago, switching out the heroine’s old-timey menstrual products for maxi pads; and they did it a lot to the Sweet Valley High novels, many of which were [...]

27

Romance By You, For You

Thanks to my friend Emily, I've just discovered Romance By You, a service that allows you to insert your name, love interest's name, and sundry personal details into a romance novel. I've spent all day putting everyone's names I can think of into bodice-rippers about werewolves, detectives, werewolf detectives, pirates, vampires, ER doctors, and medieval knights.

Here's how it works, at least for the free excerpts: You're prompted to enter the heroine's name, hair color, eye color, sometimes the name of a female friend or pet, the hero's name, and sometimes his hair or eye color or build. Then it provides you with something like this:

Huxley sighed. [...]