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Tag: Classic Novels (1-10 of 35)

Breaking Big: Mallory Ortberg, author of 'Texts from Jane Eyre'


About five minutes into my chat with Mallory Ortberg—cofounder of feminist humor mecca The Toast, author of Texts from Jane Eyre, general Internet spirit animal—I realized that I’d accidentally forgotten to plug my voice recorder into my phone. Her response, delivered with good-natured, schadenfreud-ic glee: “Oh no, you have to do everything all over again! Sucks for you!”

She was joking, of course; “I make mistakes and forget stuff all the time, so you are allowed to be a human being,” she told me once the talk got back on track. For a moment, though, it sounded like Ortberg was channeling one of the characters she highlights in Texts From—a collection of imagined conversations between literary figures (some real authors, some fictional creations) that might more accurately be titled Assholes in Western Literature.

In Ortberg’s hands, the canon becomes a parade of selfish, petulant whiners (Hamlet, Lord Byron, Henry David Thoreau, Jake from The Sun Also Rises), moody, overbearing messes (Cathy and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre, Edgar Allan Poe), and all-around grade-A jerks (Scarlett O’Hara probably takes the crown)—the sort of people you’re delighted to read about but would never, ever want to meet in real life. It’s a skillful bit of literary sculpting that chips away at great works of fiction (and the Sweet Valley High series) until it reveals the secret core that unites them all: People are terrible. And it’s really, really fun to read about how terrible they are.

Read on to hear more about Texts From‘s journey from blog series to real live book, as well as what Ortberg’s reading now. READ FULL STORY

See six jazzy new covers for classic Ralph Ellison titles -- EXCLUSIVE


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

'The Innocents' author on the lasting influence of Edith Wharton


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

Thomas Pynchon's full backlist comes to e-readers

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?

Read more:
What book took you the longest to finish?
‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ to come out as e-book
See new covers for 7 Truman Capote books — EXCLUSIVE

See new covers for 7 Truman Capote books -- EXCLUSIVE


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

'Charlotte's Web' tops list of '100 great books for kids'


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?

Happy 200th Birthday, Charles Dickens!

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

So you got a Kindle (or other e-reader) for Christmas! Here are 10 free books to fill it with

If Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos is to be believed, “many millions” of you received a Kindle product as a gift this holiday season. When I unwrapped my brand new Kindle last Christmas, I was itching to go on an e-book shopping bender. It can feel like you have every written word at your fingertips, and you want to read as much of what’s out there as you can. In the early days of Kindle ownership, I got download-happy and made some poor, money-wasting choices because buying books became so easy. If a friend recommended a title over lunch, I’d drop $12 on it on the spot without researching it first, or I’d get impatient and buy a title that someone would end up giving me a few days later.

When my e-book buying habit started getting expensive, I looked to the many free books available in the Kindle Store to feed my hungry reader. Many public domain books are classics, ones that you might want to revisit from school or others that you feel guilty for not having read. Haven’t read Anna Karenina or War and Peace? Now you can’t use the excuse that you don’t want to lug those huge tomes around. I’m ashamed to admit that somehow I’d managed to reach my twenties without having read a Dickens all the way through, so I dutifully made my way through Great Expectations and Bleak House. Even if you don’t plan on actually reading some of these free books (will I actually read my e-copy of Ulysses? Probably not), simply owning them can give you the warm fuzzies. Here are 10 books/authors that won’t cost you a penny in the Kindle store! READ FULL STORY

Which Faulkner novels and stories should HBO adapt?

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' finally becomes an e-book despite Ray Bradbury's opposition to nonflammable media

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.

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