The weird comedy of letters between T.S. Eliot and Groucho Marx

From More Intelligent Life, an article by Lee Siegel:

The second volume of T.S. Eliot’s letters was recently published by Yale University Press, with new materials and previously unpublished missives. This is as good a time as any to reflect on Eliot’s most fascinating correspondent. Ezra Pound? Well, no. James Joyce? Hmm. No. Paul Valery. Non! I am referring to Groucho Marx. And no, this isn’t a joke. The letters between T.S. Eliot and Julius Henry Marx are among the strangest and most delightful epistles ever created.

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On Pete Dexter

Pete Dexter is the author of several novels, most notably, National Book Award–winning Paris Trout (1988), “a riveting tale of an unrepentant racist who brutally murders a 14-year-old black girl in a small Georgia town in the late 1940s,” and Deadwood (1986), turned into a gritty HBO series. At the link is a Village Voice article  called Let It Bleed about the acclaimed news columnist, screen-writer, and author. Interesting writer…

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‘Books: The Great Leader, by Jim Harrison’

Okay, I have to read this authorBooks: The Great Leader, by Jim Harrison—found at GuelphMercury.com. The hook?

He might cringe at the thought, but Harrison is both a moral and a spiritual writer who sees decency in living honestly and holiness in the pleasures of the flesh.

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Glowing Article/Review of my book—Waiting for Zoë

Reprinted with permission of Evergreen Newspapers: “Tin man turns wordsmith”

Evergreen resident and first-time novelist Jim Ament recently released “Waiting for Zoe,” a genre-bending novel. Available on Dec. 1, the book tells a bittersweet tale of ruin and recovery. “In many ways, it’s about endurance,” he says, “and how we learn to get through adversity.”

Retired businessman begins new chapter as novelist—By Stephen Knapp:

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How to Write Romance Novels

I don’t plan to ever write a romance novel, but here is a very funny piece by Chris Braiotta from the hairpin (Hat tip mental_floss magazine) on the formula for doing that:

Women like you have two dreams in this world. The first is a pair of ferocious boots that say “Sarah Michelle Gellar speaking crossly to a Sudanese rebel.” The second is a successful, secret career as a romance novelist. That first dream of yours kind of creeps me out, but the second one is something I can help with. It turns out that writing romance novels is very, very easy as long as you follow the rules. In my role as friend to women, I’m going to tell you about those rules, and illustrate how I followed those rules with actual, incredible prose.

To start, you need to introduce your heroine. She needs to be relatable, so don’t give her too many qualities.

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‘Resistance Is Futile’

From the Atlantic, Resistance is Futile, by Megan McArdle:

ON CHRISTMAS EVE 1947, George Orwell was admitted to a Scottish hospital with a case of galloping consumption. Orwell had first been diagnosed with tuberculosis almost 10 years earlier, but nonetheless, in what a biographer called “one of the many ill-judged decisions in a life littered with misjudgements,” he had recently moved to a remote and primitive Scottish cottage, where he began work on Nineteen Eighty-Four. There, he developed the night sweats, fever, and weight loss that are hallmarks of active TB. By the time he was admitted to the hospital, Mycobacterium tuberculosis had husked nearly 30 pounds off his already slender frame.

When I was younger and more romantic, I imagined that tuberculosis made you a good writer. After all, so many great ones, from Keats to Chekhov to all three Brontës, seemed to have died of it. Indeed, in 19th-century Europe, the “White Plague” may have caused as many as a quarter of all deaths. Though that proportion had fallen by Orwell’s time, writers from Camus to Bukowski were still contracting tuberculosis, as were millions of their less famous countrymen. Only antibiotics finally conquered the disease.

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Norman Mailer’s True Fiction

From the New Yorker, Norman Mailer’s True Fiction, by Richard Brody:

There’s a superb and insightful piece about Norman Mailer by Jonathan Lethem at the Los Angeles Review of Books (that site is one of the instant jewels of the Internet). Lethem starts off by discussing his own lifelong love for Mailer’s writing and fascination with Mailer’s persona:

Challenged once by a friend to name a single immortal literary character from postwar fiction—someone to rival Sherlock Holmes or Madame Bovary in terms of bleed-through to popular consciousness—I blurted out “Norman Mailer!” I was halfway serious.

The list of works by Mailer that Lethem would take to his own personal desert-island library are mainly essays and reporting—and the magisterially reflexive composite “Advertisements for Myself”—rather than novels. And his essay addresses why this is so, offering a brilliant hypothesis regarding what I think is indeed the key question on the subject of Mailer’s literary life: why he never managed to slay the white whale and write the Great American Novel, and why he will most likely be most passionately remembered for his nonfiction.

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Philip Marlowe’s Bad Idea

From Today in Literature:

On this day in 1958 Raymond Chandler began his last novel, the never-completed (by him) Poodle Springs. This was Chandler’s name for Palm Springs, where “every third elegant creature you see has at least one poodle,” and where Philip Marlowe thought he might settle down with his new wife, the socialite Linda Loring. Chandler lost interest after a few chapters; Marlowe probably would have too.

Read the whole thing at the link.

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6 Things Learned From Charles Bukowski

From Huffington Post, 6 things I Learned from Charles Bukowski by James Altucher:

Charles Bukowski was disgusting, his actual real fiction is awful, he’s been called a misogynist, overly simplistic, the worst narcissist, (and probably all of the above are true to an extent) and whenever there’s a collection of “Greatest American Writers” he’s never included.

And yet… he’s probably the greatest American writer ever. Whether you’ve read him or not, and most have not, there’s 6 things worthy of learning from an artist like Bukoswski.

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Larry McMurtry changes focus

“Larry McMurtry is one of the great American writers but after multiple health problems he has turned his focus to book selling.” A video interview with Jane Cowan at ABC News.

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