Tag Archives: novel

The byte may destroy the book but the novel isn’t over yet

Technology has always had an effect on the form of the novel, but the story remains.

by Camilla Nelson

Source: http://theconversation.com/the-byte-may-destroy-the-book-but-the-novel-isnt-over-yet-42556?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+3+June+2015+-+2901&utm_content=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+3+June+2015+-+2901+CID_d9aa7eed4583444a6198564d2fce1b93&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=The

In This Will Destroy That, also known as Book V, Chapter 2 of Notre Dame de Paris, Victor Hugo presents his famous argument that it was the invention of the printing press that destroyed the edifice of the gothic cathedral. Stories, hopes and dreams had once been inscribed in stone and statutory, wrote Hugo. But with the arrival of new printing technologies, literature replaced architecture.

Today, “this” may well be destroying “that” again, as the Galaxy of the Internet replaces the Gutenberg Universe. If a book is becoming something that can be downloaded from the app store, texted to your mobile phone, read in 140-character installments on Twitter, or, indeed, watched on YouTube, what will that do to literature – and particularly Hugo’s favourite literary form, the novel?

At one time, the typewriter was the cutting edge technology for novel writing.

At one time, the typewriter was the cutting edge technology for novel writing.

Debates about the future of the book are invariably informed by conversations about the death of the novel. But as far as the digital novel is concerned, it often seems we’re in – dare I say it – the analogue phase. The publishing industry mostly focuses on digital technologies as a means for content delivery – that is, on wifi as a replacement for print, ink, and trucks. In terms of fictional works specifically created for a digital environment, publishers are mostly interested in digital shorts or eBook singles.

At 10,000 words, these are longer than a short story and shorter than a printed novel, which, in every other respect, they continue to resemble.

Digital editions of classic novels are also common. Some, such as the Random House edition of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange (1962), available from the App store, are innovatively designed, bringing the novel into dialogue with an encyclopedic array of archival materials, including Burgess’ annotated manuscript, old book covers, videos and photographs.

Also in this category is Faber’s digital edition of John Buchan’s 39 Steps (2013), in which the text unfolds within a digital landscape that you can actually explore, albeit to a limited degree, by opening a newspaper, or reading a letter.

But there is a strong sense in which novels of this sort, transplanted into what are essentially gaming-style environments for which the novel form was not designed, can be experienced as deeply frustrating. This is because the novel, and novel reading, is supported by a particular kind of consciousness that Marshall McLuhan memorably called the “Gutenberg mind”.

Novels are linear and sequential, and post-print culture is interactive and multidimensional. Novels draw the mind into deeply imagined worlds, digital culture draws the mind outward, assembling its stories in the interstices of a globally networked culture.

For the novel to become digital, writers and publishers need to think about digital media as something more than just an alternative publishing vehicle for the same old thing. The fact of being digital must eventually change the shape of the novel, and transform the language.

Far from destroying literature, or the novel genre, digital experimentation can be understood as perfectly in keeping with the history of the novel form. There have been novels in letters, novels in pictures, novels in poetry, and novels which, like Robinson Crusoe (1719), so successfully claimed to be factual accounts of actual events that they were reported in the contemporary papers as a news story. It is in the nature of the novel to constantly outrun the attempt to pin it down.

So too, technology has always transformed the novel. Take Dickens, for example, whose books were shaped by the logic of the industrial printing press and the monthly and weekly serial – comprising a long series of episodes strung together with a cliffhanger to mark the end of each installment.

So what does digital media do differently? Most obviously, digital technology is multimodal. It combines text, pictures, movement and sound. But this does not pose much of a conceptual challenge for writers, thanks, perhaps, to the extensive groundwork already laid by graphic novel.

Rather, the biggest challenge that digital technology poses to the novel is the fact that digital media isn’t linear – digital technology is multidimensional, allowing stories to expand, often wildly and unpredictably, in nonlinear patterns.

Rest of the article at: http://theconversation.com/the-byte-may-destroy-the-book-but-the-novel-isnt-over-yet-42556?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+3+June+2015+-+2901&utm_content=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+3+June+2015+-+2901+CID_d9aa7eed4583444a6198564d2fce1b93&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=The

Leave a comment

Filed under 2015, novel

New Cormac McCarthy Book, “The Passenger,” Unveiled

Thirty years in the making. Scheduled for release in 2016.

by Jack Martinez

Source: http://www.newsweek.com/cormac-mccarthy-new-book-363027#.Vc-Q6I8RjpQ.twitter

Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy

After incubating for some 30 years, Cormac McCarthy’s next novel just made a dramatic first entrance onto the public stage. Passages from the much-anticipated book, called The Passenger, were read as part of a multimedia event staged by the Lannan Foundation in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The reading is the first public confirmation of the novel and its title, long the subject of rumors in the literary world.

The occasion marks nearly 50 years since the publication of McCarthy’s The Orchard Keeper, which won the PEN/Faulkner prize for best debut novel in 1966.

While academics and critics have long praised his work, the legendary author keeps a low profile, spending most of his time at a science and mathematics think tank in New Mexico, the Santa Fe Institute (SFI), where he is a trustee. Organizers at SFI confirmed to Newsweek that the novel will be released in 2016, though McCarthy’s agent and publishers declined to comment on the status of the book.

Prior to the Lannan Foundation event on August 5, details about the book’s eventual publication were hard to come by. Now, The Passenger appears to be approaching.

That alone is enough to excite McCarthy’s substantial following. Steven Frye, president of the Cormac McCarthy Society, is more than a little biased when it comes to ranking authors. But there are plenty who share his opinion when he says: “I would rate him No. 1” among contemporary authors. “It’s bold to say that we’ll be reading him in 500 years, the way we read Shakespeare…. But if we’re still reading novels, then I think it will be the case.”

Given the author’s history when it comes to public appearances, it was a surprise to members of the Society (which has no affiliation with the author) when the event was announced on the Santa Fe Institute’s web site.

Read more at: http://www.newsweek.com/cormac-mccarthy-new-book-363027#.Vc-Q6I8RjpQ.twitter

Leave a comment

Filed under 2015, authors, books

Writing tip Wednesday: “First Novel Tricks”

9 Practical Tricks for Writing Your First Novel


Source: http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/9-practical-tricks-for-writing-your-first-novel?et_mid=773300&rid=239626420

1. Get to the end of the story
One of the biggest mistakes I made writing my first novel was spending too much time polishing the language before I understood the story’s arc. I didn’t know if the words and sentences I was massaging supported the story, because I had no idea how it ended. I finally made a huge poster that read: “GET TO THE END OF THE STORY” and taped it to the wall behind my computer. This simple trick helped me push forward to the end.

2. Put the manuscript away for awhile and write something else
After five and a half years of steady work on my novel, I inadvertently set it aside for eighteen months to write 600 pages of material for a second novel. I thought my first novel was dead. Then I opened the file one day and started reading it from the beginning. What I discovered was that the time away allowed me to experience the manuscript as a reader instead of a writer. Not only did I find I liked what I’d written, I saw where the holes were, and how it might end. Ten months after its rediscovery, it was sold overnight to Random House.

3. Set a timer for forty-five minutes, then take a fifteen minute break
This is a trick that emerged out of creativity research, and that I first heard about from another writer, Ellen Sussman. When you sit down to write, set a timer for forty-five minutes. Force yourself to begin putting words on the page immediately, and don’t stop until the timer goes off, even if you have to write about the weather. Then reset the timer for a fifteen minute break. During the break, don’t check email; do something mindless like dishes or jumping jacks or cartwheels. This trick frees your subconscious to tackle bigger issues in the manuscript. You’ll find that when you sit down again for another forty-five minute session, you’ll have made breakthroughs without even trying.

4. Only set writing goals that are completely within your control
Some writers set daily word count or page goals; I find it simpler to commit to the amount of time I spend writing every day. If I get interrupted by my kids, I can always make the hours up at night when they’re asleep. I set a goal of three writing hours (45 minutes on, 15 minutes off) per day, five days a week. I keep track of the hours on a log next to my desk, and when I reach fifteen, I’ve met my goal.

Other tips include:

5. Keep a poem in progress on your desktop

6. Organize a self-styled writing retreat

7. Read other novels, not short stories

8. Write 1,200 pages to get 300

9. Find three trusted readers, not just one

Details at: http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/9-practical-tricks-for-writing-your-first-novel?et_mid=773300&rid=239626420

Jan Ellison

Jan Ellison

About Jan Ellison: Ellison is the bestselling author of the debut novel, A Small Indiscretion (Random House 2015) which was both an Oprah Editor’s Pick and a San Francisco Chronicle Book Club Pick. Jan’s essays and stories have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Narrative Magazine and elsewhere, and she received an O. Henry Prize for her first short story to appear in print. She was raised in Los Angeles and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband of twenty years and their four children. Visit janellison.com, follow her here on Facebook and on Twitter @janellison.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2015, writing tip, Writing Tip Wednesday

Map: The book that best represents each state — Vox

Map: The book that best represents each state – Vox.

We always love a good map. The below map might just seem to be another riff on “which book is most popular in each state” or something similar. But it’s actually much more interesting than that.

Take a look: http://www.vox.com/xpress/2014/10/17/6988649/literary-map-the-books-that-best-represent-each-state-united-states

The map is called The Literary United States, and it aims to plot out the “best books for every state.” It’s not based on research or polls or statistics. Instead, it was compiled by writers for BK Mag. Fortunately, they have great taste.

A literary map of the U.S.

A literary map of the U.S.

For instance, BK Mag chooses Zora Neale Hurston’s masterpiece Their Eyes Were Watching God to represent Florida. The novel is set in the Sunshine State, which makes it an obvious choice. The book selections, though, have to do with more than just setting.

The rest of the article at: http://www.vox.com/xpress/2014/10/17/6988649/literary-map-the-books-that-best-represent-each-state-united-states

Leave a comment

Filed under literary map of the U.S., map


Willard wondered if there was a Sag Wagon for the sagging middle of novels?

Willard wondered if there was a Sag Wagon for the sagging middle of novels?

1 Comment

Filed under cartoon by author, CarToonsday

Can’t get into highbrow novels? Ditch them, says Nick Hornby

Can't get into highbrow novels? Ditch them, says Nick Hornby – Telegraph.

When struggling through a classic novel, many have found honour in persevering to the end.

But it appears it might be better just to give up quickly.

Nick Hornby, the bestselling novelist, has argued readers should put down difficult books immediately if they are not enjoying them.

Battling through them, he said, would only condition people to believe reading is a chore, leaving a “sense of duty” about something you “should do”.

Instead, Hornby argued, reading should be seen more like television or the cinema, and only undertaken as something people “want to do”.

Speaking at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, about his new novel Funny Girl, Hornby argued even children should not be compelled to read books they do not want to, saying setting targets of books they “should” read is counterproductive.

Hornby, the author of Fever Pitch, High Fidelity and About A Boy, said: “I’m passionate about reading and what reading can do for you, but I don’t want anyone to tell you what you should read.

Read the rest of the article at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/11141627/Cant-get-into-highbrow-novels-Ditch-them-says-Nick-Hornby.html

[Editor’s note: Thank you to Ashlie for the link to the article.]

Leave a comment

Filed under reading

What Classic Novel Describes Your Life?

Which one indeed

Which one indeed

What Classic Novel Describes Your Life?.

Leave a comment

Filed under what novel are you?