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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Kurt Vonnegut, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 27
1. Reading as a Kid: A Nod to Kurt Vonnegut in NIGHTMARELAND

 

the-sirens-of-titan

 

“A purpose of human life,

no matter who is controlling it,

is to love whoever is around to be loved.” 

― Kurt VonnegutThe Sirens of Titan

 

It’s something I started doing in the Jigsaw Jones series, so it’s nearly a 20-year-old tradition. I make small references to real books in my fictional novels. There’s no great reason for it, and as far as I know, nobody cares one way or the other. It’s just something I do to please myself. A tip of the hat.

In Scary Tales #4: Nightmareland, I throw in a reference to an old favorite, The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut. It happens in the first chapter. A boy, Aaron, is about to make an ill-fated purchase at a video game store.

And here we go, from page 6:

nightmareland_cvr_lorezA black-haired girl with dark eye makeup sat at the counter. She hunched forward with her feet tucked under her chair, reading from an old paperback called The Sirens of Titan.

“Is this game any good?” Aaron asked. “I never heard of it.”

The girl wore clunky bracelets and silver rings on most of her fingers. She glanced at Aaron and shrugged. “Sorry, I just work here. Those games are all the same to me.”

And that’s it. Aaron buys the video game and our plot soon thickens.

As I’ve said elsewhere, I have no childhood memory of my parents reading to me. And I mean, ever reading to me. It must have happened, surely, but just as surely, it could not have been too often. Or I’d remember.

I was the youngest of seven, my father worked a lot, all those mouths to feed, and I don’t think it was something we did. I’m not complaining. Things were different in those days, and seven kids is a handful. I got the book bug — at least those first bites that ultimately led to the more serious infection (or should I say, affliction) — simply by growing up surrounded by readers. My brothers read, my sisters read, particularly Jean, the 6th oldest and closest in age to me; Jean always, always had a book. I think of her reading Tom Robbins and Richard Brautigan, though of course she read everything, and voraciously.

illustratedmanNaturally I became accustomed to the idea that reading was a source of pleasure. It was my destiny; someday I’d get a crack at those same books. My brother Billy, whom I worshipped at that time, favored science fiction. He read the “Dune” series, and Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man and, of course, Vonnegut. I think all my brothers read Vonnegut in the 70′s.

Strangely, I never got around to Sirens until I was in college, taking a class in American Literature while I was attending school in — wait for it — Nottingham, England. Because that made no sense at all! I even wrote a paper about it. I doubt the paper was any good. If you are going to spend time abroad, the last thing you want to do is waste it by studying. There was too much to learn, too many people to meet, too much wild fun to pursue.

But I did read Sirens while I was in England. And today I’m glad to tell you that I gave that book a nod in Nightmareland.

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2. Slaughterhouse-Five

What Kurt Vonnegut set out to do was write a book about war, and in particular the firebombing of Dresden in World War II. What he ended up doing was writing clean around it — traveling in and out of time warps, bouncing on and off the earth, sometimes setting down on the planet Tralfamadore, [...]

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3. FAN MAIL WEDNESDAY #170: Seth from Iowa Is Scared & Happy About It

Here we go, folks. It’s time for Fan Mail Wednesday — and it’s actually Wednesday, a first for the entire staff here at Jamespreller.com!

I’m reaching into the big box of letters . . . ah, here’s one from Seth in Iowa!

Dear James Preller,

Hello, my name is Seth. I am a fourth grade student in Iowa. Our class is writing letters to our favorite authors. I chose you. You write Scary Tales. What do you do when you get stuck? Also, what book are you writing now? Here are some suggestions; Scary Tales: Slenderman’s Eye because it is really scary. My favorite book is Good Night Zombie. It is captivating! You keep me into the book and the characters. I liked your book because it’s scary and fun to read. What book did you make and like the most? I obviously like GOOD NIGHT ZOMBIE!!! It’s really scary. You also give me courage to read your books. You give me the chills when I read the books. You inspire me to read and write. Thank you for writing stuff like scary books!

Sincerely,

Seth

I replied:
-
Seth,

Thanks for your email. You just saved me fifty cents on a crummy stamp. And stamps don’t grow on trees. (Though trees grow on stumps, sort of. Nevermind!)

I’m especially happy to read your email, because you are one of the first readers to write about my new SCARY TALES series. I’m glad you enjoyed Good Night, Zombie, which is the third book in that series. I love that story, just wall-to-wall action and suspense. I’ve written two more in the series that are due to come out around June or so, I’m not really clear on the dates. It takes a lot of people to make a book, and now is the time for the designer, illustrator, editor, and copyeditor to do their part. Except for some proofreading, my job on those books is pretty much done.
-

Scary Tales #4 is called Nightmareland. It’s about a boy who loves video games. Unfortunately, he gets sucked into one of them and it’s up to his sister to find a way to help him escape. Yes, there are wolves. Yes, there are dangerous snowmen who guard a castle. Yes, there is fire and adventure. It’s a lot of fun. The 5th book will be called The One-Eyed Doll and my editor thinks it’s the creepiest one yet. Around here, I consider that a compliment.
-
EDITOR: “Your story is really creepy and gruesome.”

WRITER: “Oh, thank you very much. You don’t look so bad yourself!”

I currently have several projects in the fire. My focus right now is a new novel along the lines of my middle grade book, Bystander. Many of the same themes, but all new characters and situations. I’m writing, researching, and zinging along. It’s the first book that I’ve written in the first-person since my old “Jigsaw Jones” mystery series. Other two works in progress are both middle grade novels, a crazy one tentatively titled Zombie Me in the wild and wooly tradition (I hope) of Kurt Vonnegut, and a straight-on science fiction story set on a distant planet. In that one, I’m trying to bring “scary” into outer space.

There will be a 6th book in the Scary Tales series, but at this point I have no idea what it will be about. What is this “Slenderman’s Eye” you are talking about? Seriously, I’m open to new ideas, just as long as we are clear about one thing: I’m not sharing the money, Seth!

I don’t believe in writer’s block and don’t worry too much about getting stuck. My father was an insurance man who ran his own business. He had a wife and seven kids. As far as I know, he never sat around complaining about “insurance block.” Sometimes you just have to strap yourself into the chair and . . . make something up! I do think we experience “stuckness” when we are bored. That is, we are writing a story that has become boring to us. How awful is that? If you are bored by your own story, imagine how the readers might feel. At that point, you’ve got to sit back and try to figure out how to get your story back on track. Or dump it and start a new one.
The world does not need any more boring stories.

Thanks for writing, Seth!

My best,

James Preller

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4. Breakfast of Champions

According to Kurt Vonnegut, "The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable." In one hilarious, heart-wrenching, absurdist, wildly imaginative novel after another he did just that for countless readers, making life a little more bearable — not to mention a lot more [...]

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5. Two Things on Tuesday

Thing One

Some photos from the filming of How to Steal a Dog in South Korea:







Thing Two
 
Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
--Kurt Vonnegut 

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6. How Famous Creatives Spent Their Days: INFOGRAPHIC

Have you ever wondered how much time Les Miserables author Victor Hugo spent sleeping? Or how many hours 1Q84 author Haruki Murakami devotes to writing?

Podio has created an infographic called, “The Daily Routines of Famous Creative People.” The image (embedded below) shows the day-to-day schedules of 26 famous creative professionals including Lolita author Vladimir Nabokov, Slaughterhouse-Five author Kurt Vonnegut, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings author Maya Angelou.

Here’s more from The Huffington Post: “Whether we’re working on our latest novels, paintings or compositions and stuck in ruts, or we’re novices to the creative workspace entirely, we can all benefit from seeing how Charles Dickens, Pablo Picasso, and Mozart spent their days — even if it is just for fun.”


Want to develop a better work routine? Discover how some of the world’s greatest minds organized their days.
Click image to see the interactive version (via Podio).

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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7. It's beginning to look a lot like a Christmas Card out there

posted by Neil
I went to Chicago on Friday and took part in the recording of the "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me... Royal Pain In The Year" 2011 Special. It airs on BBC America (TV) and on Public Radio on December the 23rd. I was the "Not my job" guest, and answered three questions. Whether or not I got any of them right, you will have to wait until the 23rd to find out.



There's a conversation between Shaun Tan and me in the Guardian right now, and it's fun. We talk about art and suchlike. In the photo above we were standing behind the Edinburgh Book Festival authors' yurt taking it in turns to point at imaginary interesting things.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/dec/02/neil-gaiman-shaun-tan-interview


ST: I don't know about you but when someone first mentions an adaptation, I have, probably a little bit inappropriately, a feeling of weariness at revisiting that work after I'd struggled with it for so many months or years. But then the second thought is "Wow, what a great opportunity to fix up all those dodgy bits."

NG: It's so nice to hear you say that. Somebody asked me recently if I plot ahead of time. I said yes I do, but there is always so much room for surprise and definitely points where I don't know what's going to happen. They quoted somebody who had said: "All writers who say that they do not know what's going to happen are liars, would you believe someone who started an anecdote without knowing where it was going?" I thought, but I don't start an anecdote to find out what I think about something, I start an anecdote to say this interesting thing happened to me. Whereas I'll start any piece of art to find out what I think about something.

0 Comments on It's beginning to look a lot like a Christmas Card out there as of 12/4/2011 12:51:00 PM

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8. Previously Unpublished Vonnegut Novella to Be Released

A 22,000-word novella called "Basic Training,'' written before Mr. Vonnegut's other works made him famous, will be published by RosettaBooks Friday.

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9. Kurt Vonnegut Gets a Kindle Single

RosettaBooks has released a previously unpublished novella by Kurt Vonnegut. The 22,000-word Basic Training is on sale for $1.99 as a Kindle Single.

According to the publisher, the novelist tried to sell the novella to The Saturday Evening Post and Collier’s in the 1940s. His children acknowledged that the story was autobiographical.

Check it out: “Written to be sold under the pseudonym of ‘Mark Harvey’—Vonnegut was working in public relations for General Electric and used pseudonyms to protect himself from the charge of moonlighting—BASIC TRAINING is the story of Haley Brandon. The adolescent protagonist comes to the farm of his relative, an old crazy who insists upon being called The General, who means to teach Haley to become a straight-shooting American. Haley’s only means of survival will lead him to unflagging defiance of the General’s deranged values.”

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10. John Vitale Leaving HarperCollins

John Vitale is leaving HarperCollins this month. He worked with authors that included Kurt Vonnegut, Maurice Sendak and Shel Silverstein.

Here’s more from the company memo: “John joined the company in April 1977 when Harper & Row acquired Thomas Y. Crowell & Co. In 1978, he was named Production Director for the Children’s Division. In 1998 he was promoted to Vice President of Book Production, where he added the Adult Trade Group to his existing responsibilities of Children’s and Audio.”

The publisher will promote Tracey Menzies to VP of production and creative operations to replace Vitale.

continued…

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11. Banned Book Trading Cards

To celebrate the 30th annual Banned Books Week, one library in Kansas has gotten artistic. The Lawrence Public Library has created the Banned Books Trading Cards project, a series of drawings inspired by banned books and authors created by local artists.

Each trading card is inspired by a banned book or author. There is one for each day of the week.  The week kicked off with an homage to George Orwell‘s Animal Farm (pictured right) created by artist Barry Fitzgerald, followed by an homage to Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, drawn by Kent Smith. Today’s card by an artist known as Webmocker, celebrates John Updike’s Rabbit, Run.

Here is the artist’s statement: “Burning and otherwise destroying books being a favorite activity of censors, deconstruction seemed an appropriate approach to this tattered (literally falling apart as I read it) copy of Rabbit, Run.  Coincidentally, this book was purchased at the Friends of the Lawrence Public Library book sale.”

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12. Jonathan Maberry: ‘Get your butt in a chair & write.’

Have you ever written a scary story? In honor of the Halloween season, we are interviewing horror writers to learn about the craft of scaring readers. Recently, we spoke with author Jonathan Maberry.

Throughout Maberry’s career, he has won multiple Stoker Awards for his horror work. Last month, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers released the third installment of the Rot & Ruin series, Flesh & Bone.

He has written for Marvel Comics and published multiple novels for both adults and young-adults. As a nonfiction writer, Maberry has examined topics ranging from martial arts to zombie pop culture. Check out the highlights from our interview below…

continued…

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13. Kurt Vonnegut on Book Deals: ‘Carry on Without an Advance’

It is too easy for first-time writers to obsess over book deals. Back in 1972, the great author Kurt Vonnegut cautioned one young writer against seeking an advance before finishing his book–sharing important advice that all aspiring authors.

Vonnegut advised his son (author Mark Vonnegut) “to carry on without an advance” while working on his first book. You can read the complete letter he wrote to his son in the new Kurt Vonnegut: Letters collection, but we’ve posted an excerpt below:

I have mixed feelings about advances on first books. They are hard to get, for one thing, and are usually so small that they tie you up without appreciably improving your financial situation. Also: I have seen a lot of writers stop writing or at least slow down after getting an advance. They have a feeling of completion after making a deal. That’s bad news creatively. If you are within a few months of having a finished, edited manuscript, I advise you to carry on without an advance, without that false feeling of completion, without that bit of good news to announce to a lot of people before the job is really done.

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14. Before They Were Famous: The Oddest Odd Jobs of 10 Literary Greats

LiteraryMiscellany

by Alex Palmer

Plenty of acclaimed and successful writers began their careers working strange—and occasionally degrading—day jobs. But rather than being ground down by the work, many drew inspiration for stories and poems from even the dullest gigs. Here are 10 of the oddest odd jobs of famous authors—all of them reminders that creative fodder can be found in the most unexpected places.

#1.#2.#3.#4.#5.#6.#7.#8.#9.#10.Alex Palmer

is the author of Literary Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Literature and Weird-O-Pedia: The Ultimate Book of Surprising, Strange, and Incredibly Bizarre Facts about (Supposedly) Ordinary Things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This piece originally ran in Writer’s Digest magazine. For more from WD, check out the latest issue

—which features an exclusive dual interview with Anne Rice and Christopher Rice, and a feature package on how to improve your craft in simple, effective ways—in print, or on your favorite tablet.

 

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15. Kurt Vonnegut, e.e. cummings & Shel Silverstein Are Most Popular Literary Tattoo Inspirations

Twilight tattoos are not the only contenders on the literary tattoo playing field. Novelist Justin Taylor and literary agent Eva Talmadge collaborated on a nonfiction compilation of literary tattoos based on their blog, tattoolit.com.

The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide came out this week from Harper Perennial and the trailer is embedded above. We caught up with the authors to talk about how the book came to be.

E = Eva Talmadge
J = Justin Taylor

Q: From your experience, which book/author receives the most tattoo requests?
E: Kurt Vonnegut and e.e. cummings are probably the most popular authors when it comes to literary tattoos.
J: And of course, if we had wanted to we could have done an entire book of just Shakespeare.

Q: Which children’s book illustrations are most popular?
E: Shel Silverstein, by far.

Q: What was the most interesting “story” behind a tattoo?
E: Best story by far is how Jamie Garvey of Gainesville, Florida, came to copy his e.e. cummings tattoo (“how do you like your blue-eyed boy now, mr. death?”) off the one and only Harry Crews.

continued…

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16. Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library Offers Sneak Peek

Vonnegut Library.JPGOn November 12th, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library allowed a sneak peek at the archive.  On December 3rd, half of the planned exhibits will be on display. The library will be fully functional in January.

The Chicago Tribune had more: “One exhibit is a gallery of Vonnegut art that includes pieces by the writer, two drawings by Vonnegut fan and 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer and ‘Star Time,’ a 20-feet timeline of important events in Vonnegut’s life painted by artist Chris King and text written by William Rodney Allen, editor of Conversations with Kurt Vonnegut.”

After discovering the Henry Miller Memorial Library, library president Julia Whitehead decided to do the same for Kurt Vonnegut. She earned the support of his children and started the library in 2008.

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17. Readers with Tattoos Inspired by Black Ocean Books Rewarded with Lifetime Subscription

Publisher Black Ocean has made an unconventional offer to its most unconventional fans–if you get a tattoo inspired by one of the press’ books, you will receive a lifetime subscription to its titles.

Here’s the deal: “If you’d like to get a tattoo inspired by a Black Ocean title, you too can receive a lifetime subscription and become a Black Oceanographer for life! Just send us a picture of you getting your tattoo (so we know it’s not simply a magic marker), or find one of us in person and expose yourself to us (with fair warning).”

Three readers have already received lifetime subscriptions for tattoos,  including Rebecca H.’s tattoo inspired by “The Center of Worthwhile Things” from The Man Suit (pictured, via). UPDATE: Earlier this year, we found out that Kurt Vonnegut, e.e. cummings, and Shel Silverstein are the most popular literary tattoo inspirations.

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18. Authors Who Doodled

Flavorpill has collected the doodles of famous authors, including Sylvia Plath, David Foster Wallace, Vladimir Nabokov, Franz Kafka, Samuel Beckett, Allen Ginsberg, Mark Twain, Henry Miller, Kurt Vonnegut, and Jorge Luis Borges.

The drawings ranged from insect portraits to nightmare images. Wallace drew one of the funnier pieces, doodling glasses and fangs on a photo of Cormac McCarthy.

Vonnegut (pictured with his artwork, via) incorporated many of his drawings into his books. He even had his own art gallery exhibitions. What author should illustrate their next book?

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19. Kurt Vonnegut & Sarah Ockler Books Removed from Missouri High School Library

A Missouri school board voted 4-0 this week to yank Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler and Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut out of the Republic High School library. The move has already drawn thousands of responses online.

Last year, Missouri State assistant professor Wesley Scroggins attacked the books at a a school board meeting and wrote a newspaper column for the Springfield News-Leader (“Filthy books demeaning to Republic education“). This GalleyCat editor will never forget the joy of discovering Vonnegut in his own high school library and can’t imagine missing that experience.

Here’s how Scroggins described Slaughterhouse-Five: “This is a book that contains so much profane language, it would make a sailor blush with shame. The ‘f word’ is plastered on almost every other page. The content ranges from naked men and women in cages together so that others can watch them having sex to God telling people that they better not mess with his loser, bum of a son, named Jesus Christ.” (Via Reddit)

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20. Sarah Ockler Responds to Library Censorship

Earlier this week, a Missouri school board voted 4-0 to remove Sarah Ockler‘s Twenty Boy Summer and Kurt Vonnegut‘s Slaughterhouse-Five from the Republic High School library.

Ockler responded in a proud blog blog post this week: “Banned, but Never Shamed.” She’s already earned over 60 comments from readers around the country. What do you think about the controversial school board decision?

Check it out: “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million times more. I get that my book isn’t appropriate for all teens, and that some parents are opposed to the content. That’s fine. Read it and decide for your own family. I wish more parents would do that — get involved in their kids’ reading and discuss the issues the books portray. But don’t make that decision for everyone else’s family by limiting a book’s availability and burying the issue under guise of a ‘curriculum discussion.’” (Via Reddit)

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21. Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library Offers Free Slaughterhouse Five Copies to Students at School that Banned the Book

In an inspiring response to censorship, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library will give away up to 150 free copies of Slaughterhouse Five to high school students in Republic, Missouri.

The school board voted to ban Kurt Vonnegut‘s book from the high school library along with Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler. If you believe in this cause, the museum is asking for donations to help pay for shipping for the books. Follow this link to donate. 

Here’s more from the museum: “If you are a student at Republic High School, please e-mail us at i@vonnegutlibrary.org to request your free copy of the book. Please provide us with your name, address, and grade level. We have up to 150 books to share, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor. We think it’s important for everyone to have their First Amendment rights. We’re not telling you to like the book… we just want you to read it and decide for yourself. We will not share your request or any of your personal information with anyone else.” (Via Reddit)

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22. Kurt Vonnegut on the Shape of Stories (& Why He’s My Favorite Writer)

Kurt Vonnegut could bend words like no one else and create satire that deconstructed complicated themes into relatable, entertaining stories. In other words: He made fun of us. All of us. And millions loved him for it. I am one of those millions. (You may remember I've mentioned this before.) Read more

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23. Confession: I Finally Got Around to Reading “A Wrinkle In Time”

“. . . one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to understand things for them to be.”

– Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle In Time.

When I was a kid, growing up in the 60’s, I didn’t read many children’s books. P.D. Eastman, of course, whom I liked better than Suess, some of the Little Golden Books, and later, the Hardy Boys. Frank and Joe, I think their names were. I have no memory of either of my parents reading to me, ever. It may have happened, must have happened, but I can’t recall it. I was the youngest of seven, born in 1961, and bed time wasn’t the hour-long ritual it’s become for so many kids today, with reading and talking and snuggling and sharing, etc. When I was a kid, it was more like, “Good night. And don’t forget to brush your teeth.”

The words that formed my reading habit came from the sports pages of The New York Daily News and The Long Island Press. I still maintain that my writing style, such as it is, was probably more influenced by Dick Young than anybody else: I faithfully read his column for many (formative) years. I also remember, as I reached my middle grade period, talking to my older brothers and sisters about books. They were readers, all of them, and loved Bradbury and Vonnegut and Brautigan and Robbins, so I picked up those books. I have a vivid recollection of writing a book report in 7th grade on any book I wanted. I chose Anthem by Ayn Rand, probably because it was a slendest paperback on the family bookshelf.

I also read sports biographies, being an ex-boy, and still hold a special fondness for Go Up for Glory Bill Russell. It hit me like a thunderbolt, and for a time I was determined to grow into a very tall black man who’d willingly pass up a shot in order to set a fierce pick and roll into the paint, looking for the put-back.

Anyway, I basically missed the entire canon of children’s literature. I didn’t read Where the Wild Things Are until I worked at Scholastic as a junior copywriter in 1985, hauling in $12,500 a year, thank you very much. These days I still try to fill in the holes, though I’ll admit it: I love adult literature. After all, I’m an adult. Those are the books that lit my fuse. I am not giving up my grown-up books.

Now, about A Wrinkle In Time. I liked it. Some parts — the first few chapters, especially — I really, really admired. Other parts — after the tessering, and into the full-blown fantasy — I didn’t care for as much. It reminded me of the original Star Trek series (my brothers loved Star Trek and we watched it religiously). In sum: Dated, kind of corny, a little obvious, but entertaining and fast-paced and intelligent and provocative, too. There’s a quality to the book, a be

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24. Before They Were Famous: The Oddest Odd Jobs of 10 Literary Greats

Plenty of acclaimed and successful writers began their careers working strange—and occasionally degrading—day jobs. But rather than being ground down by the work, many drew inspiration for stories and poems from even the dullest gigs. Here are 10 of the oddest odd jobs of famous authors—all of them reminders that creative fodder can be found in the most unexpected places. Read more

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25. The 90 Secrets of Bestselling Authors

Here, some of the most successful writers in recent (and not-so-recent) memory share their take on everything from how they get ideas (or go find them), to the best way to start a manuscript (or why the only important thing is that you start at all), to their most methodical writing habits (and quirkiest rituals), to writing with the readers in mind (or ignoring them entirely). Read more

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