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Tag: The New York Times (1-6 of 6)

On the Books: Tom Hanks pens short story for The New Yorker

- We know how much Tom Hanks loves typewriters—but since he co-wrote 2001’s Band of Brothers, the actor hasn’t had much original writing to show. Maybe he wiped the dust off his favorite typing device for “Alan Bean Plus Four,” a fictional story he penned for the new issue of The New Yorker.

The humorous story, about four buddies who journey to the moon in a capsule made from duct tape, is positively Hanksian. As an author, Hanks uses similar themes to the roles he has championed—limitless ambition, vivid detail, and emotional depth. Or maybe that could all stem from the 18-minute recording The New Yorker provided of Hanks reading the story himself. [The New Yorker] READ FULL STORY

On the Books: Authors United warns Amazon, watch your reputation


The 1,100 member group Authors United posted a letter of direct appeal to Amazon’s board of directors—urging them to end their book-pricing standoff with publisher Hachette, which has hurt some authors’ book sales.

The letter warns the board that their reputation may be at stake: “[I]f this is how Amazon continues to treat the literary community, how long will the company’s fine reputation last?” The appeal continues, noting similar disputes “have a long and ugly history,” and asking, “Do you, personally, want to be associated with this?” For months, Amazon has delayed shipments of books by Hachette authors and removed the preorder option for those titles in an attempt to force Hachette to lower its e-book prices. [NPR] READ FULL STORY

The New York Times' haiku blog is the best thing about National Poetry Month


News stories are not often places for poetry — filled, as they are, with facts and grafs and ledes and quotes, all arranged in pyramids. But that’s changed with the launch of “Times Haiku,” a project that turns The New York Times’ copy into splendid 15-word poems.

Subtitled “serendipitous poetry from The New York Times,” the blog’s launch comes concurrent with National Poetry Month. It’s powered by Jacob Harris’ algorithm, which he wrote “scans each sentence looking for potential haikus by using an electronic dictionary containing syllable counts.” Harris, a senior software architect at the Times, reversed-engineered the coding behind @horse_ebooks for his @nytimes_ebooks last year.

The new algorithm’s only requirement is numeric: Like classic haikus, its selections must contain five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five again in the third. “The nice thing about haikus is they’re very short, so they’ll fit inside a tweet,” Harris said.


Roger Ebert talks 'Life Itself': 'I wasn't reviewing a movie, I was reviewing myself.'

rare for a movie to so frankly describe itself. Jason X sucks on the levels of storytelling, character development, suspense, special effects, originality, punctuation, neatness and aptness of thought.” All of which is to say that anyone who has ever come across Ebert’s written reviews or TV appearances over the last four decades knows that this man was born with that thing so many writers struggle to find: A voice.

When, after a battle with thyroid cancer, he had to have his jaw removed in 2006, one of the many tragedies was that Ebert lost his ability to speak. And  yet, as fate often strangely goes, it was this very circumstance that ultimately motivated Ebert to give his voice its greatest, most vulnerable chance to shine yet — in his recently released memoir Life Itself. This Tuesday, joined by his wife Chaz and spoken for by his computer voice “Alex,” Ebert sat with New York Times Chief Film Critic A.O. Scott for a TimesTalks about his life, career, and how his darkest days inspired what is the most personal review he has ever written: The review of his own life. READ FULL STORY

Wilfrid Sheed, critic and novelist of great moral wit, has died

Wilfrid Sheed, one of the finest contemporary critics and novelists, has died. He was 80, and died of urosepsis, an infection.

Born in England and raised in America, Sheed possessed a style that was elegant and conversational; erudite and frequently funny. His work can be almost evenly divided between his life as a novelist and as a critic; one job informed the other. In his introduction to READ FULL STORY

Stop calling it chick lit!

“Here’s an idea,” Linda Holmes says in an op-ed piece on NPR. “If you’re going to try to report on the fact that a couple of women who write books have tried to start a discussions of whether the mega-response to Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom is symptomatic of a too-narrow view of interesting fiction, it might be a good idea to stay away from the formless and dismissive term ‘chick lit’ in discussing them.” As she says, all too often womens’ books about family and relationship are dismissed as “chick lit.” But men who write novels about the same kinds of subjects are accorded much more respect.

The “chick lit” debate has been raging for some time now, of course. This time around it was stoked by Jodi Picoult, who — upon reading the New York Times‘ rave review of Freedom – tweeted, “NYT raved about Franzen’s new book. Is anyone shocked? Would love to see the NYT rave about authors who aren’t white male literary darlings.” Jennifer Weiner then joined the fray (tweeting under the hashtag “franzenfreude”); the Times responded snarkily that anyone who thought she was right “should meet in front of Jennifer’s TV during “Oprah.” (Why is that? Because women sit around in the afternoon and eat bonbons and watch Oprah?) Weiner told Huffpo, “Do I think I should be getting all of the attention that Jonathan ‘Genius’ Franzen gets? Nope. Would I like to be taken at least as seriously as a Jonathan Tropper or a Nick Hornby? Absolutely.”

There’s a couple of issues here. I’ve weighed in on most of them before. As far as the Times goes, Weiner and Picoult are  correct: The newspaper absolutely does have a bias towards white male authors (if you doubt this, go do some counting yourself). Look and see how many men in the last year got both daily and Sunday reviews — and then compare how many women were accorded that honor. Check the number of mentions Gary Shteyngart has gotten in the last month, and then do the same for Mona Simpson, a novelist of equal literary acclaim. (Their most recent works came out at roughly the same time this summer.) Simpson did get a profile, it’s true. Of course, it ran in the Style section, not the Arts section.

The chick lit issue is equally bothersome. It’s never failed to irritate me that the smart, funny, achingly real Good in Bed should be dismissed as “chick lit,” with all its dismissive, derogatory implications. This isn’t a novel about sex and shopping. Would we demean brash, action-packed adventure novels by calling them “dick lit”? No, we would not. (Although if the “chick lit” tag persists, maybe we should.)

All right, everyone: Weigh in, please. Do you think there’s a bias — in the Times or elsewhere — against women writers? What do you think of the “chick lit” debate?

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