Ralph Ellison, one of the foremost African American authors of the literary canon, fell in love with music before he focused on writing. That’s why designer Cardon Webb researched record art and type from the mid-century jazz era to create fresh new covers for six of Ellison’s seminal works. They’re a change from the muted packaging his books have been getting for years in that they celebrate the raucous, colorful energy of his prose. Click through for a sneak peek at the new editions — including Invisible Man, the posthumously published Juneteenth, and Flying Home — which will hit bookstores in September. READ FULL STORY
Tag: Classic Novels (1-10 of 34)
You know who’s hot right now? Edith Wharton. Even though she died 75 years ago, and she mostly wrote about turn-of-the-century American society, she’s still one of the most influential writers today. Earlier this month, Vintage Books released fetching re-issues of her four most famous novels. At the same time, two separate debut novels — The Innocents by Francesca Segal and The Gilded Age by Claire McMillan, both re-imaginings of Wharton novels — hit shelves within a week of each other. Segal’s new novel sets The Age of Innocence in a Jewish community in present-day London. She spoke to EW about Wharton’s unflagging relevance. READ FULL STORY
For the first time, Thomas Pynchon’s seven novels and one short story collection will be beaming onto e-readers today. It shouldn’t be surprising that the notoriously private author is willing to embrace the digital form. After all, Wired magazine dubbed him “the paranoid poet of the information age,” as many of his works examine the fascinating and frightening effects of technology on modern culture. Plus, Pynchon probably isn’t averse to any format that allows you to buy a book without leaving the house.
Are you excited to download V., The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity’s Rainbow, Slow Learner, Vineland, Mason & Dixon, Against the Day, and Inherent Vice?
Do shiny new covers make you want to re-read old favorites? I’m not ashamed to admit that re-issues are one publishing marketing ploy that I’m entirely susceptible to, especially when they’re done with originality and care. Vintage Books recently released Breakfast at Tiffany’s and other Truman Capote classics as e-books, but these new editions, designed by Megan Wilson, might rekindle your loyalty to paperback. Like Capote himself, the updated covers (coming this July) are stylish and daring with an undertone of darkness. Click through to see the seven re-issued covers, and tell us your favorite in the comments. Mine is Answered Prayers.
NEXT: The Grass Harp
Scholastic Parent & Child magazine released a new list of 100 great books for kids and gave the top spot to Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White’s classic children’s novel about a girl and a talking spider who join forces to save a pig from slaughter. Charlotte’s Web edged out the ubiquitous picture book Goodnight Moon. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone represented J.K. Rowling’s entire series in the No. 6 spot, and The Hunger Games, one of the newer titles on the list, claimed No. 33. I do applaud the exclusion of the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer — not all wildly popular franchises deserve to make the cut.
The list is meant to “generate controversy and conversation,” said Parent & Child editor-in-chief Nick Friedman, so if they’re inviting gripes, I have to complain about the placement of Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth (referred to as “Phantom T” on last night’s episode of New Girl) outside of the top 10 and the relative scarcity of Dr. Seuss. But mostly I appreciate being reminded of some great children’s books I haven’t thought about in a while, like Frog and Toad Are Friends and Hatchet.
Let’s “generate controversy and conversation!” What do you think of Scholastic’s list? Any surprise inclusions or exclusions?
For months already, the U.K. has been gearing up to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth today. Some might know Dickens as the author who wrote the never-ending novels we were forced to read in school, but his legacy is very much alive today for good reason — his themes of poverty, the working classes, and social injustice still resonate and made him a major pop culture celebrity in his time. You can celebrate the great author’s bicentenary by downloading and reading his classics for free from the Kindle Store. Or you can get your Dickens on in a slightly less time-consuming way by seeing the way others are celebrating the Great Expectations author:
++ The Google doodle for today features several of Dickens’ most iconic characters. See who you recognize here: READ FULL STORY
Earlier this week, HBO re-upped its commitment to work with Deadwood creator David Milch for several more years; more specifically, Milch has the incredibly open-ended task of creating a series and original movies for the cable network based on any of the 19 novels and 125 short stories in William Faulkner’s estate. While Milch hasn’t yet decided on any titles to adapt, several authors have weighed in on the works they would or wouldn’t want to see on television. READ FULL STORY
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury’s seminal work of science-fiction about the perils of book burning, is finally available as an e-book. Simon & Schuster released the novel for download on Tuesday. It might surprise you to hear that Bradbury, now 91 and apparently a little further into the future than he would like to be, was previously dead-set against making it available in any form other than traditional paper-and-glue, calling the internet “meaningless” and commenting that e-books “smell like burned fuel.” To get the obvious joke out of the way, given his fear of literary conflagrations, maybe he was just uncomfortable putting his book in something called a Kindle.
When Fahrenheit 451 (Celsius 233, in its European editions) was first published in 1953, it was coming only two decades after the infamous Nazi book burnings and in the midst of America’s own wave of anti-literary fervor courtesy of McCarthyism and general think-of-the-children hysteria. But coming in 2011, this e-book release presents an opportunity to ponder the continuing relevance of the novel in a time when words aren’t quite so flammable. It’s pretty difficult to burn an e-book—unless it’s onto a CD—and a thumbdrive is much easier to smuggle than an armful of texts, so you’d think that Bradbury might be willing to forgo his traditional curmudgeonliness to embrace a technology that would spell the end to the act he deplores. Then again, in many cases, firewalls can be just as effective as fire and, as Amazon’s ironically Orwellian faux pas showed us, readers may not be as in control of their electronic library as they are their bookshelf.
Of course, Fahrenheit 451 is not just about the act of burning books in the same way that Animal Farm isn’t just about animal rights (and wrongs). It’s about all varieties of censorship, something from which digital media are far from immune, and in that way its themes are as pertinent as ever. Maybe in fifty years, an updated version will replace Guy Montag’s bonfires with a simple Select All + Delete.
Flavorwire has posted a whole host of rejection letters from now-popular works that at least one publisher didn’t see what all the fuss was about.
Sylvia Plath, for example, received this note about The Bell Jar:“I’m not sure what Heinemann’s sees in this first novel unless it is a kind of youthful American female brashnaess. But there certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice….One feels simply that Miss Plat [sic] is writing of them because [these] things did happen to her and the incidents are in themselves good for a story, but throw them together and they don’t necessarily add up to a novel.” Brutal!
Also included are takedowns of Lolita; a children’s book by Tim Burton; and Kerouac’s On the Road. Hugely successful contemporary authors have their war wounds as well: J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was turned down nearly a dozen times.
But my favorite isn’t, technically, a rejection letter. It’s a note that Hunter S. Thompson sent to William McKeen, who had written a biography of him.
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