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Friday, May 28, 2010

xTx officially declares Zombie Summer!

Everyone's favorite acronym-monikered writer, xTx, is continuing her now-annual tradition of creating delightfully arbitrary themed summer compilations to gather guest-generated content for her blog Nothing To Say. Last year the theme was 'Elephants;' this summer it's 'Zombies.' So, get cracking writers and write something, anything, about zombies and she just might choose your piece to feature on her blog, but hurry up because the deadline is June 13th*.

You can read the free PDF Elephant Summer, which she compiled from last year's submissions, here.

For more information click here.

*Though she admits that the deadline is flexible**.
**Sorry for the late notice on this, guys.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Muse of Twain

Just when you think that everything that could possibly be known about Mark Twain has been considered and reconsidered, something new comes out.

Here The Smithsonian has an awesome article about a long-lost muse of Twain's.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Real Places

Last week, The Atlantic ran a really interesting article about what constitutes the "real" version of a place. This got me thinking about the classic moment in Jorge Luis Borges' On Exactitude in Science when the cartographers of an empire become so obsessed with creating the perfect map that they end up making a map with a one-to-one ratio.

"In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guild drew a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, coinciding point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography saw the vast Map to be Useless and permitted it to decay and fray under the Sun and winters.

In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of the Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; and in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography."

This quote, as well as the general idea of there being a difference between the map and the territory, is used exstensively in Infinite Jest as well as several other works of fiction. In fact, it seems obsession over the meaning of place is a bit of a postmodern fixation. And it should be, because place is so important to good fiction. Understanding a place, revealing a place, capturing the essence of a place.

But what do these ideas mean? Or is the idea of place essentially meaningless? Is place nothing more than a series of unquantifiable associations that build on each other to give us the sense of somewhere?

Lane Wallace in her article attempts to analyze these questions, though it seems to me that they need to be answered on an individual level, by each writer as they try to capture the scenery and atmosphere around their characters. Still, the article is helpful and well worth reading.

You can read it here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

DeLillo and Sci-Fi

Here's an awesome review of the new collection The Secret History of Science Fiction which contains an early science fiction story by Don DeLillo entitled "Human Moments in World War III." Although the review has some nice things to say about the collection it more or less devolves into a DeLillo love-fest, which I'm not saying is necessarily a bad thing. From what the author says, it sounds like "Human Moments" is a must-read, and the collection a must-have.

You can read the review here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Outlaw of Amherst

The New York Times ran an incredible essay about Emily Dickinson the other day and I thought I would share it with you. The author, Holland Cotter, does a phenomenal job of bringing you into why Dickinson matters on a personal level, and how groundbreaking she was for her time, and for subsequent times.

You can read the article here.