Articles on this Page
- 08/19/14--08:00: _The Life and Storie...
- 08/20/14--06:30: _Don't Miss the Next...
- 08/20/14--08:55: _Javier Moro and His...
- 08/20/14--12:19: _Ignorance Is Bliss:...
- 08/21/14--07:34: _Read an Excerpt fro...
- 08/22/14--09:40: _Valerie Miner and t...
- 08/23/14--07:16: _Cozy Mysteries
- 08/25/14--10:06: _Edgar Wallace, el h...
- 08/26/14--06:50: _Leaning in to a New...
- 08/26/14--12:48: _A Company Called Pi...
- 08/28/14--09:25: _Into the Canadian W...
- 08/29/14--09:15: _The Greatest of Tru...
- 08/29/14--11:28: _Literary Lives
- 09/01/14--05:00: _Book Club Guide and...
- 09/01/14--07:00: _September Ebooks Un...
- 09/03/14--06:00: _Sexy Fiction: The S...
- 09/03/14--13:08: _Announcing Open Roa...
- 09/04/14--08:27: _Essential Guides to...
- 09/04/14--10:30: _Need Your Outlander...
- 09/04/14--12:02: _Voices of Adolescence
- 08/19/14--08:00: The Life and Stories of Frank O'Connor
- 08/20/14--08:55: Javier Moro and His Passion For India
- 08/20/14--12:19: Ignorance Is Bliss: Seven Utopian Dystopias
- 08/21/14--07:34: Read an Excerpt from Hook Up and Enter to Win a Copy of the Book
- 08/22/14--09:40: Valerie Miner and the Female Community
- 08/23/14--07:16: Cozy Mysteries
- 08/25/14--10:06: Edgar Wallace, el hombre que inventó el thriller
- 08/26/14--06:50: Leaning in to a New View of Equality
- 08/26/14--12:48: A Company Called Piggly Wiggly
- 08/28/14--09:25: Into the Canadian Wilds with Eden Robinson
- 08/29/14--09:15: The Greatest of Truths from David Lipsky
- 08/29/14--11:28: Literary Lives
- 09/01/14--05:00: Book Club Guide and Recommendations Series: September Sale
- 09/01/14--07:00: September Ebooks Under $2.99
- 09/03/14--13:08: Announcing Open Road's Armchair Meme Contest!
- 09/04/14--08:27: Essential Guides to Help You Ease Back into the School Year
- 09/04/14--10:30: Need Your Outlander Fix? 8 Books to Satisfy Your Craving
- 09/04/14--12:02: Voices of Adolescence
“The bloody stars were all far away, and I was somehow very small and very lonely. And anything that ever happened to me after I never felt the same about again.”
—Frank O’Connor, “Guests of the Nation”
The short story form has been tackled by some of the greatest writers in literature, from as old as Homer to as recent as Haruki Murakami. As the genre continues to evolve, we are revisiting one of the masters of short fiction, whose works continue to influence and inspire: Frank O’Connor. Born in Cork, Ireland, in 1903, O’Connor had a difficult relationship with his family in his early life—an adoring devotion to his mother constantly working in opposition with his bitter apathy toward his drunken father. At the age of 15, he joined the Irish Republican Army and fought in the Irish War of Independence. In 1922, he was imprisoned by the government of the Irish Free State while working in a propaganda unit as a member of the Anti-Treaty IRA.
After his release, he became immersed in the literary scene and built his reputation on being a prolific short story writer. His short stories encapsulated the Irish way of life over the years, and his ability to tell profound and intimate stories earned him great acclaim. He became known as Ireland’s Anton Chekhov and was admired alongside fellow literary greats James Joyce and W. B. Yeats. He also produced respected work in a variety of fields, including literary criticism, translation, and poetry. At Open Road, we are proud to release four titles from this master storyteller.
Collected Storiesis the definitive anthology of O’Connor’s short fiction, from “Guests of the Nation” to “My Oedipus Complex,” these tales of Ireland have touched generations of readers the world over and confirmed O’Connor’s reputation as one of the greatest Irish authors.
In the rituals and contradictions of the priesthood, Frank O’Connor found one of his greatest motifs. The Collar showcases an artist at the peak of his powers and shines a brilliant light on a fascinating world too often hidden in shadow and sentiment.
The Midnight Court and Other Poems has now taken its rightful place in the Irish literary canon, but when O’Connor’s English translation was first published in 1945, the Irish government banned it as obscene. Here, as it first appeared, is Frank O’Connor’s faithful, funny, and eloquent translation of one of the most important works in Irish literature.
An Only Child and My Father’s Son is Frank O’Connor’s acclaimed autobiography, now in one volume. As richly detailed and eloquent as the best of his short fiction, Frank O’Connor’s autobiography is an entertaining portrait of a fascinating time and place, and the inspiring account of a young artist finding his voice.
With a career spanning over 40 years, O’Connor continues to inspire the literary world, with the richest short story prize named in his honor—the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. To learn more about Frank O’Connor and his works, visit his author page here.
Calling all martial arts fans! In honor of books 3 and 4 of the Sunset Warrior Cycle series launching this week, Eric Van Lustbader chatted with Riffle about The Sunset Warrior Cycle and other martial arts thrillers you just can't miss.
What book(s) are on your nightstand?
Lost in Translation by Nicole Mones The Watchers: A Secret History of the Reign of Elizabeth I by Stephen Alford A Visit from the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan The Outsider by Colin Wilson
So far, what’s the best book you’ve read this year?
Smiley’s People by John le Carré
Martial arts plays a big role in both The Ninja and the Sunset Warrior Cycle. How did this first come about and what do readers have to look forward to in the Sunset Warrior Cycle?
I got interested in martial arts in an odd way. One birthday, my mother gave me two books of Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints by the artists Ando Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai. I fell in love with the prints and found myself at the Ronin Gallery in New York City. The owners took me under their wing, and during my college years I hung out there, meeting any number of Japanese-Americans. That’s how I heard about ninjas and became instantly fascinated with them, martial arts, and the history of Japan.
Who or what were your original inspirations for The Ninja?
There were two inspirations, the first being: After I learned about ninja, I was reading a book that’s essentially a long interview of Alfred Hitchcock by François Truffaut, detailing each and every film Hitch directed. In the section on North by Northwest, Truffaut asked Hitchcock about his inspiration for the film. Hitch said he thought about a black sheet of paper onto which a bit of ink was dropped from a height. To him, it was like a bit of chaos disrupting an orderly area. I immediately saw the bit of ink as a ninja and thought: What would happen if I introduced a ninja into modern-day Manhattan?
The second being: I always considered myself an outsider, but it wasn’t until I read The Outsider by Colin Wilson that I understood who I was and why. I deliberately constructed Nicholas Linnear, the protagonist of the Ninja series, as the ultimate outsider, just like me. The result was The Ninja.
What are the great samurai/martial arts thrillers that readers can’t miss?
Shogun by James Clavell
If you could meet any author in history, dead or alive, who would that be and what would you want to know?
Homer—I’d want to see everything he saw; I’d want to sit by his side and listen to him recite those astonishing adventures.
Bestselling Spanish writer Javier Moro discusses what it’s like to write about India and to have his books challenged by one of the most powerful women in the world.
Javier Moro is one of the most successful bestselling writers in the Spanish language. Author of six books, one of which earned the Planeta Prize, Moro writes what he likes to call “dramatized history”, which consists of recreating the life of historical characters. In order to do so, he travels around the world, interviews relevant people, and does extensive archive research.
Born in Madrid, Spain, he traveled to India when he was 14 and has been obsessed with the country ever since. Although he published several novels based in Asia before, he didn’t gain international recognition until the publication of The Dancer and the Raja, a story of love and betrayal between the Spanish singer Anita Delgado and the wealthy maharaja of Kapurthala, Jagatjit Singh. An immediate success, the novel went on to sell more than one million copies and was translated into seventeen languages.
Three years later, Moro published The Red Sari, a fictionalized story of the prominent Indian political family, the Nehru-Gandhi, through the life of Sonia Gandhi, the president of the Indian National Congress party since 1998. An immediate bestseller in Europe, the success of The Red Sari was stalled by the threat of lawsuits by Sonia Gandhi, saying that it contained damaging and inaccurate material. This sparked a violent outrage from the party’s supporters, who burned copies of the book and pictures of the author during public demonstrations. The book was set to publish in India in 2010, but after threats of legal action, Moro decided to indefinitely delay publication.
Despite his critical and commercial success, Javier Moro is relatively unknown in English-speaking countries because his books haven’t been published in English until now. During the next couple of months, the digital publisher Open Road Media will publish The Red Sariand The Dancer and the Raja, making them available in English around the world for the first time.
In this interview, Javier Moro talks about India, the controversies surrounding his books, and the new translations of his works.
How did your passion for India begin?
I traveled to Bombay for the first time when I was 14 years old in the late 60s. There were very few cars, elephants and bears in the streets, snake charmers in the India Gate, people sleeping on the pavement . . . it was all so different from what I had ever seen that it sparked my curiosity forever! I returned many times when I was an adult.
I think India is a mine for good stories. It is so surreal, it is a country where the 13th century lives side by side with the 21st century. Where else in the world do you find headlines such as “First Child Care Center Run by a Hijra (a Eunuch) Opens in Patna”? Or problems such as car pollution in Bombay, which kills the vultures, so the dead bodies that are left in the open in the Parsi cemetery are not being eaten, which makes the neighborhood stink and the people angry?
So many layers of civilizations, races, religions, and ethnic groups make for a rich canvas, an unending source of inspiration.
You spent several years reading about the Nehru-Gandhi family and about Anita Delgado’s life, in addition to doing extensive travel to India, before writing the novels. What was your research process like and which challenges did you encounter during it?
I like to stay close to reality, so I always do extensive research. I rented an apartment in Delhi and used it as a base for following the footsteps of Anita Delgado and maharaja Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala. I interviewed several members of his family, including the Raja’s son. I even found an old aunt who still had memories of Anita. I was able to go through photo albums, letters, dinner menus, etc. I went to Kapurthala and visited the palace: The furniture is still there, the relatives of the former employees live around, and I was able to interview them. I went to the places they used to go, so I could get a sense of the landscape.
I followed the same process with the Sonia Gandhi character. I went to Italy, to the village where she was born, met her relatives, and was able to recall the story of her family (which the Congress party’s hardliners did not seem to like). The challenge here was Sonia Gandhi’s opposition to have a book written about her life. She let me know that she was totally opposed to it. In fact, there were no books on her, except political pamphlets. So at the beginning I wondered how could I write this book without her consent and almost abandoned the project. But then I thought what I had always thought: that it was a remarkable story. Had I invented it, nobody would have believed me. So I decided to go ahead: She was a public character, so why couldn’t I write about her? Wasn’t India a democracy, with freedom of speech? I was still startled by the story of this Italian woman who had become the most powerful person in a country of more than a billion people. And without wanting it! She got power in spite of herself. And in order to do so, she had to transform herself into an Indian woman. How can one do that? What were the clues of that transformation? It made for excellent dramatic material.
At the end of the whole process, I was glad to have written the book without her consent because otherwise I would have been influenced and forced to ask her if she wanted some parts removed or changed. I did not have to deal with any constraints. Not counting on her gave me the freedom I needed to write this story.
Your books are often classified as fictionalized biographies but also as historical fiction. If you had to, how would you classify your books?
Hard question. Historical fiction means you can invent characters and make them interact with people that really existed. I never do that. I do not invent characters out of the blue, or situations. I try to get as close as possible to the historical facts. But of course, based on the information I gather during the research, I interpret these characters, I imagine their dialogues, I recreate their conflicts . . . I would call it more dramatized history.
The Red Sari and The Dancer and the Raja are based in the lives of public figures. Did you expect your books to be controversial in India?
In another interview, you said that The Red Sariinvoluntarily became a test to freedom of expression and democracy in India. Looking at those moments several years ahead, what was the end result of your book’s publication in India?
In fact, the Congress party’s hardliners did not want the book to be published in India, but as there was no ground for legal action against it, they could not ban it. An intense debate on freedom of expression followed in the Indian media and I decided not to publish it in India before it got published in the US and the UK.
It’s remarkable that The Red Sari created such a stir without the book being available in English in India. How do you think Indians will react to it now that it will become accessible to a vast majority of them?
There is not a day when I don’t receive messages from Indian readers wanting to buy the book in English. I think there is a huge demand for it, because political groups vastly manipulate history in India and individuals want reliable information. You may like the book or not, but it puts the Gandhi-Nehru story into perspective. Indian readers that have read it in German or French or Italian have sent me the same feedback, that now they understand the Nehru-Gandhi years much more clearly.
In an article you published, you said, “India is a permanent spectacle, a country rich in diversity, a drunkenness of the senses.” Do you think you succeeded in recreating India’s essence?
That is a question that should be answered by readers! But, from the feedback I got, it seems that my books do convey the smells, the noises, and the colors of India.
Your novels have immediately caught the attention of film producers, such as Penélope Cruz, who has already purchased the film rights of The Dancer and the Raja. How would you picture your books being adapted to the big screen?
A film adaptation can add to your book or it can harm it. It all depends on how talented the moviemakers are. That is always a risk. I would want to run that risk with proven moviemakers, like director Shekhar Kapur (he did Elizabeth, with Cate Blanchett), who expressed his love for the story of The Dancer and the Raja, for example.
Your latest books have had a change of setting to Latin America. Do you have any plans or interests in writing novels set in India again?
Yes, of course. But I will write stories that happened in the more distant past, so the characters—or their lawyers—can’t protest or threaten me! If you write about people who are alive, you will probably run into problems because it is unlikely that the vision the writer has coincides with the vision the character has of himself, which is generally more indulgent and self-serving.
The film adaptation of The Giver, starring Hollywood heavyweights Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep, features a dystopian society in which suffering has been eliminated, safety is a given, and war is not even a memory in people’s lives. Doesn’t sound so bad, right?
Dystopian worlds are inherently wrong. However, unlike societies like the ones depicted in The Hunger Games, V for Vendetta, and Blade Runner, in which people know how terrible things are, there are other—darker, scarier, and much more interesting—dystopian societies in which people are happy, mostly because they’re ignorant of the backstory. Disturbingly, they make us doubt why those societies are necessarily bad, if happiness prevails.
Here’s a selection of our favorite utopian dystopias.
Levin’s haunting novel envisions a society ruled by a central computer called UniComp that has been programmed to keep every single human on the surface of the earth in check. People are continually drugged by means of regular injections so that they remain satisfied and cooperative.
Samuel R. Delany’s Trouble on Triton
Samuel R. Delany’s ambiguous utopia takes us to a practically lawless society in which humans have unprecedented freedom, to the degree that they can modify their physical appearances as they wish. As peaceful as it may seem, Triton is willing to wage war by any means necessary to protect its society.
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World
In this dystopian masterpiece, genetically modified people remain permanently happy through controlled sexual pleasure, causing society to lose all notions of art, ethics, and nonconformity.
Out of Blue Six describes a society in which people’s genetic predispositions and aptitudes guide their lives. In this self-contained city, happiness is the most cherished value, and the Ministry of Pain swiftly prosecutes anyone who interferes with the contentment of another, which makes for a thrilling story of free will and self-determination.
Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We
Dubbed George’s Orwell’s inspiration for Nineteen Eighty-Four, We describes OneState, a totalitarian society ruled by the omnipotent, omnipresent Benefactor. Though everyone is happy in a vacuous way, in Zamyatin’s thought-provoking creation there are no individuals, just numbers.
Lois Lowry’s The Giver
Phillip Noyce’s movie is adapted from Lois Lowry’s novel, a chilling society that vanishes pain but, in order to do so, eliminates all past memories.
Truth reigns supreme in the city-state of Veritas. Not even politicians lie, and weirdly frank notices abound. In this dystopia of mandatory candor, every preadolescent citizen is ruthlessly conditioned, through a Skinnerian ordeal called a “brainburn,” to speak truthfully under all circumstances.
Our partner Warriors Publishing Group has just released Hook Up: A Novel of Fort Bragg. The book features everything from the rigors of barracks life to raucous off-post adventures to thrilling jump sequences. Read an excerpt from Chapter 5 below, and enter to win a copy of the book from Goodreads.
The major spring maneuver carried the designation ‘All-American.’ The last big operation was the previous fall, when several companies from the 504th, had flown to Nevada and sat in ditches on Jackass Flats while an A-Bomb was detonated five miles away; it was called Operation Smoky. The men hiked through the fallout to see how troops would react. Ongoing maneuvers like that were theoretical proof the Army could have the 82nd anywhere in the world within 24 hours.
And be ready to fight even if an A-bomb fell.
During All-American, the 504th acted as the attacking regiment. Fifteen hundred men convoyed to Shaw Air Force Base near Sumter, South Carolina, where they marshaled for three days preparing Jeeps, water trailers, and 105 howitzers for heavy drop. With three days C-rations in their field packs, the ’04 would parachute onto Bragg which was defended by 77th Special Forcesand the 502nd Airborne Infantry Regiment from the 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
For many of the 504th troopers it was their cherry blast, the first jump with their regular units. During the flight, the new jumpers were surprised to be allowed to smoke on the planes, and when they stood up and hooked up, the veteran paratroopers acted like rampaging commuters—shouting, cursing to get off the train. With the flash of the green light, there wasn’t any orderly shuffle toward the door and swinging into good door position like the training jumps. The heavily loaded troops surged toward the rear doors of the C-119s, challenging the Hawk to grab them, cursing the men in front of them to move faster.
“Go!” “Go, Goddamnit!” “Go, Motherf**ker!” “Go!”
In moments, the sky over Drop Zone Salerno filled with 1,500 men from 20 lifts of Flying Coffins. Men drifted across the balmy April sky calling one another, feeling like they were attached to anvils with their heavy field packs dangling between their legs, their reserve chutes across their chests, and their M-1 carriers hooked to their jump harnesses. Some men just fell out the door, letting the weight pull them. Everyone worried about getting trapped in the risers of another chute and losing their air. Jumpers died when chutes tangled.
There were jump delays in a few planes when gear came unstrapped, men tripped, and others waited too long in the door. Men continued jumping even after the red light flashed. They found themselves drifting past the DZ, landing in trees, accumulating bruises from bouncing off the thick lower branches. A Spec/4 in Dog Company refused to go out the door and a massive heavy drop cargo chute for a Jeep failed to deploy, turning the Jeep into a squashed metal bug buried three feet deep in the drop zone. All in all, the mass drop went as usual, with several assorted broken bones from jumping in full combat gear.
An unexpected spring freeze dropped the temperatures to single digits the second day of the mock invasion. It stayed below 15 degrees for four days. On the third cold day, Third Army Headquarters and XVIII Airborne Corps cancelled the maneuver. There were rumors that five percent of the troops suffered frostbite and a few even lost some toes and ear tips. Winter sleeping bags had been forgotten.
Operation ‘All-American’ became the barometer by which all future maneuvers were judged for degree of difficulty. No operation below the Mason-Dixon Line would ever be as cold.
“Miner is a writer of reach, audacity, range, uniquely important to understanding our time. . . . A poet of the city, the everyday urban life, she gives us its beat.” —Tillie Olsen
From the outside, Valerie Miner’s novels appear to cross several genres, with varying times, places, and structures. But with each work, Miner shows a clear commitment to showing a slice of a particular time and place, with an overall focus on the deep relationships between women. Ranging from friendship to romance, Miner creates intense plots that are driven by and supported by strong female protagonists.
All Good Women, Miner pinpointed the importance of location and female relationships in the book. Despite the women being thrown apart during the war, their deep friendship creates a fluid narrative, which brings the Great War to life:
“All Good Women is a novel about four working-class American women during World War II. It describes their daily lives, how the war changes their individual directions, and how their friendship endures. The book explores the lives of friends from varied backgrounds—Jewish, Native American, Scottish, Japanese American, African American, etc.
“I started my career as a journalist. In this case, I went to places where the book is set—a former internment camp, Oklahoma, Japan, London, and, of course, neighborhoods in San Francisco. I listened to music from the time, watched period films, visited archives, interviewed home front ‘veterans,’ read books and journals published during the period.”
Range of Light is an intense study of the bonds between women. As two friends reunite 25 years later to repeat a journey through California’s High Sierra, they reflect on their pasts and how their current trek through the mountains is reminiscent of their friendship. Miner herself notes:
“I am very interested in friendship between women. This book explores a longtime friendship. One of the characters becomes a lesbian; the other remains married to a man. I wanted to explore how that difference in sexuality might affect the friendship over time.
“I hike every summer in the High Sierra. The spirit of the place drew me to write about it. While all my work attends to geographical location and historical moment, this book in particular celebrates a particular place, the High Sierra Mountains in Eastern California.”
As an award-winning author whose career continues to flourish, Miner is an exemplary author, not only of women’s fiction, but acclaimed literary fiction. To learn more about Valerie Miner and her other breathtaking novels, visit her author page here.
Discover new authors and dive into the mysteries set in small idyllic towns in New England, hair salons in Florida, and a twelfth century abbey. Their day-jobs are as diverse as naturalist, ghost writer, and Harvard professor, but their goals are all the same - nabbing the bad guy!
See the series here.
See the series here
See the series here.
See the series here
See the series here.
See the series here.
See the series here.
The Hildegarde Wither Mysteries by Stuart Palmer. The Penguin Pool Murder introduced Hildegarde Withers, a schoolmarm who, on a field trip to the New York Aquarium, discovers a dead body in the pool. Withers was an immensely popular character, and went on to star in thirteen more novels.
The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries by Dorothy L. Sayers. One of the most beloved mystery series of all time! While working as an advertising copywriter, Dorothy L. Sayers began work on Whose Body? (1923), a mystery novel featuring dapper detective Lord Peter Wimsey. Over the next two decades, Sayers published ten more Wimsey novels and several short stories.
Edgar Wallace fue uno de los escritores más populares del siglo XX y, con un impresionante record de 130 novelas, uno de los más prolíficos sin lugar a dudas. En la cúspide de su carrera profesional, se dice que una cuarta parte de todos los libros leídos en Inglaterra llegó a tener el nombre de Wallace.
A diferencia de otros escritores como Agatha Christie, Connan Doyle y S. S. Van Dine, Wallace no centró su obra en un solo personaje, sino en un vasto despliegue de interesantes súper villanos, organizaciones criminales, jóvenes detectives, heroínas valientes, ladrones perspicaces, malvados mafiosos y policías valientes. La fama de Edgar Wallace se debe claramente a su nombre, no a un personaje o una serie famosos.
Adéntrate en alguna de sus emocionantes novelas y descubrirás rápidamente aventuras extravagantes con locos súper villanos que no podrás dejar de leer.
Jesse Trasmere es un miserable que alimenta una gran desconfianza por los bancos. Ha hecho una fortuna en China, que mantiene escondida en el sótano de su casa. Un día Trasemere rompe con la rutina. Le comunica a su criado Walter que se ausentará por un tiempo de la ciudad, para evitar el encuentro con una relación del pasado.
El viaje de Trasemere no es muy largo. Aparece su cadáver en la bóveda del sótano con un tiro en la espalda. La habitación está cerrada por dentro. La llave, sobre la mesa. Nadie ha tocado el dinero.
A sir Philip Ramon le trae sin cuidado la carta firmada por cuatro hombres que se autoproclaman "justos". El ministro de Relaciones Exteriores no dará el brazo a torcer en la presentación del proyecto de ley que regula la extradición de extranjeros.
Toda la policía de Londres está al acecho, las medidas de seguridad son máximas, el ministro se encierra en una habitación inexpugnable. Aun así, un extraño dispositivo y un flash de magnesio—que bien pudo ser nitroglicerina—dejan desconcertada a Scotland Yard. Ni siquiera la perspicaz prensa británica puede encontrar una pista que lleve a Manfred, Gonsalez, Pioccart y Thery, los cuatro hombres justos.
Marjorie Stedman, sobrina y secretaria privada de Solomon Stedman, entra en el salón de Alma Trebizond, actriz casada con sir James Tynewood. Lleva una carta de su tío. Sir James está borracho como una cuba y da la nota.
A su pesar, Marjorie debe volver a Tynewood Chase, la mansión de sir James. Su tío Solomon le ha encargado que entregue una nueva carta. La acompaña el doctor Fordham. Fordham la deja a solas y Marjorie oye un disparo. Cuando abre la puerta, ve a sir James en el suelo, en un charco de sangre.
Marjorie está segura de haber visto antes al hombre que sostiene la pistola.
Tidal Basin es el distrito más pobre, más bajo y más duro de Londres. En alguno de sus muchos callejones oscuros vive el Diablo de Tidal Basin, que aterroriza a los vecinos y deja perpleja a la policía.
¿Habrá alguna conexión entre el Diablo y el Hombre del antifaz blanco, el bandido solitario que recorre Londres sin que nadie le moleste? El inspector Mason, uno de los Cinco Grandes de Scotland Yard, está decidido a averiguarlo.
Cuando el Viejo mata al guardia nocturno a martillazos y escapa del asilo de Sketchley, los vecinos del apacible paraje se organizan para dar con el loco más antiguo del refugio de indigentes.
Solo John Lorney se niega a participar del esfuerzo. Lorney es nuevo en Surrey y la gente lo mira con reticencia desde que compró la mansión Tudor donde ha montado un lujoso hotel al borde de la carretera. El mundo es pequeño y la posibilidad de que viejos criminales se reúnan en El escudo de armas no es tan remota. Finalmente, Sketchley es un sitio donde pasan cosas extrañas: robos, restituciones, un viejo misterioso y merodeador.
Una noche, prende fuego la finca de un señorío vecino. El dueño y sus invitados se ven obligados a trasladarse a El escudo de armas. Uno de ellos muere asesinado.
To help us celebrate Women's Equality Day, Taylor Marsh, author of The Sexual Education of a Beauty Queen shares with us her thoughts on women's rights, feminism, and the inspiration she found from feminist icons like Gloria Steinem.
When I was a little girl growing up I had one goal: to get out of Missouri. Movies were my escape, cliché as it may sound. I lived in alternative universes with every ticket I bought. The darkness of the theatre and the largeness of the images allowed me to dream of a place and a way of thinking far beyond the trappings of where I was born. I viscerally believed I had stuff to do and things to say that people really needed to hear. I was going to make a difference in my little universe. And I was going to expand beyond that to somehow be a message maven.
By the time high school came I appreciated what a difficult dream I had, but reality never stopped me. That’s because I got my footing in the age of Gloria. You know, Steinem. It’s all Gloria’s fault that freedom and my own hell-bent passion to live my life exactly as I wanted became a wild, unexpected adventure, where curiosity and exploration replaced security. I write that with gratitude and a smile.
Opponents campaigned against feminism suggesting it was all that ailed women, made us unhappy, ruined our relationships. It began to be dissected into “post-feminism,” first-, second-, and third-wave movements, with the latest supposedly setting women free from having to identify with feminism at all. You probably won’t be surprised that I reject this nonsense. The continued practice of female genital mutilation in the world is enough to validate the need for fury and the feminist outcry. As long as child brides are in vogue in some cultures our job is not done. “Our job” being the work of feminists – both women and men. Feminism in its purest form is not exclusionary, but is driven by women whose voices add another octave to the cause of equality that will never be finished until all women and girls have a say in their own lives, their country and a place in leadership, too.
Feminist men stand beside the women they love and respect, supporting journeys to manifest our dreams that go beyond traditional norms. I can talk about this with authority not just because I’ve been a relationship consultant for a large metropolitan newspaper and excavated the worlds of relationship and sex, but because without my husband standing beside me what I’ve manifested artistically, as a writer and thinker, wouldn’t have been as fun, as easy, or nearly as rich.
That’s why this year with a gracious and grateful nod to Gloria it’s time to add a new woman to the list of female revolutionaries who are helping women to carve broader paths and have richer lives, without sacrificing what makes life so thrilling.
Facebook's Chief Operating Officer (COO) Sheryl Sandberg devised “lean in,” making the case that women needed to have the courage to step up and lead. The uproar was sonic, reverberating through the feminist ranks, which hasn’t stopped since. Sandberg dared to say that even when married with children and the juggling gets tougher, women need to “lean in,” because our presence at the top is critical for full equality, which includes men getting theirs, too – which starts at home.
Sheryl Sandberg’s vision, outlined in her “Lean In” tome, suggests making our relationships equal to include more men taking advantage of family leave when children are born, while women dare to expect men tell their bosses that it’s their turn to pick up the kids from school, because wifey is out of the country delivering a speech to an international financial conference in France.
Gloria Steinem said during an interview with Judy Woodruff on PBS in 2013 that, “women can’t have it all as long as we have to do it all.”
Sheryl Sandberg’s “lean in” philosophy takes the baton from Ms. Steinem, advancing and putting new emphasis in our relationship world that suggests equality isn’t just about the workplace, economics, or sexuality, but is also about the kitchen, the kids, and household chores. Not having to do it all begins with men leaning in, too.
New York’s Democratic Representative Bella Abzug stood up to declare August 26, 1971 Women’s Equality Day. It’s a celebration that marks many strides forward for women. But it’s not enough anymore to celebrate what we’ve done, because there’s still much left to do.
I will never forget what Gloria Steinem meant to the world I was battling as a renegade female who didn’t want the traditional things and dared to say I deserve to get whatever I want if I’m willing to pay the price for them.
Sheryl Sandberg has now ventured forward saying we need to take women’s equality into our personal lives and dare to ask men to help expand our freedoms one more step, because we’re stuck where we are without them. With more women as primary breadwinners today than ever before, two income households critical to families across the country, it’s not a minor thing to mention on this important day.
Our primary relationship is the new frontier in feminism that holds the largest possibilities for expanding women’s satisfaction, happiness and fulfillment, but it will take all of us to expand Women’s Equality Day into our homes.
It cannot be done without the men who still run the majority of corporations and sit in the boardrooms of the biggest companies leaning in, too.
What does Bill Gates have in common with Piggly Wiggly? Well . . . it’s a bit of a stretch, but both are linked to the bestselling book Business Adventures, a collection of 1960s New Yorker essays written by John Brooks. Recently heralded by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett as the single best business book, Business Adventures brings to life in vivid fashion twelve timeless tales of corporate and financial life in America. Clarence Saunders, the founder of Piggly Wiggly, the first modern grocery store chain, is the fascinating subject of one of these case studies.
Famous for his life of grandeur, Saunders’s story is full of successes and failures. In the 1920s, he devised what is now called “the last great corner” on Wall Street. What is a corner? How did this scandal play out? To learn more, click through the presentation below. And, for the full story, check out Business Adventures!
When Eden Robinson first released her debut novel, Monkey Beach, it was met with nearly universal acclaim. A member of the Haisla and Heiltsuk First Nations, Robinson was one of the first female Canadian Native writers to gain international attention. Bringing to light the struggles of Canadian Native Americans, her novel offers her comparisons to other greats, Leslie Marmon Silko and Sherman Alexie, who hailed her novel as “tough, tender, and fierce.” Read on for Robinson’s own thoughts on her novel and its evolution.
What is Monkey Beach about?
Monkey Beach is a coming-of-age ghost story set in my father’s community of Kitamaat Village, British Columbia, a small Haisla reserve on the West Coast. Lisa’s brother goes missing during a fishing accident, and, as the family waits for news, Lisa remembers their childhood together.
Can you tell us about the major characters in the novel?
The sasquatch, or b’gwus, is the main supernatural creature in the book, but my father said he was disappointed there weren’t more running around. My mother is Heiltsuk and said I needed to write more Heiltsuk characters. I told her my next book is a trashy, band council romance. She said, well, the book after that one has to have more Heiltsuk representation. The trashy romance can stay in Kitamaat Village.
How did you come up with the idea for the book?
My favorite bedtime stories growing up were drowning stories. My mother shares my grim sensibility, so she’d tell me all the stories about the different ways people drowned in our fishing communities. The first version of this book was a bunch of anecdotes about six different people drowning. In later versions, I added a protagonist and a plot. I spent about five years thinking about it, and another five years writing and editing it.
The AIM activists were inspired by my aunts who told me stories about becoming politically active in the 70s. I chose to set the book in the village where I grew up because novels are hard and it was one less thing I had to research.
For more information about Eden Robinson and her works, visit her author page here.
“I never had to fake emotion with our mother. There was something so brave about her, in her dealing solely with our fractured family.” —David Lipsky, The Art Fair
You may have heard of David Lipsky because of his contributions to Rolling Stone, or the upcoming film adaptation of Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself—Lipsky’s memoir about his infamous road trip with the legendary David Foster Wallace—but he built his early reputation as a prolific fiction writer. At Open Road, we are proud to release Lipsky’s first two publications: the short story collection Three Thousand Dollars and his debut novel, The Art Fair.
A New York City native, Lipsky graduated with a master’s degree from John Hopkins University, studying under the novelist John Barth. It was during his graduate studies that he wrote the stories that would comprise his first collection, Three Thousand Dollars. The first of these stories, the titular “Three Thousand Dollars,” was published by the New Yorker in 1986. That same year, author Raymond Carver selected the story to be included in the Best American Short Stories anthology.
Drawing from Lipsky’s own experiences in the art world (his mother is the painter Pat Lipsky), The Art Fair is a vivid and poignant novel about family and life in the New York art scene. Still reeling from a painful divorce, once-successful artist Joan Freeley suffers in her failure alone until her son, Richard, returns from living with his father, intent on reinvigorating his mother’s career. As the years go by and all of Richard’s attempts to return his mother to her former glory end in failure, Richard must decide when his own life must begin—and if his mother ever needed or wanted his help.
As his career continues to flourish in both the fiction and journalism worlds, Lipsky keeps delivering poignant stories that capture slices of life in the modern world. To learn more about David Lipsky and his works, visit his author page here.
Anne Lamott humorously describes the life of a writer in her book Bird by Bird:
“Writing can be a pretty desperate endeavor, because it is about some of our deepest needs: our need to be visible, to be heard, our need to make sense of our lives, to wake up and grow and belong. It is no wonder if we sometimes tend to take ourselves perhaps a bit too seriously.”
The stereotype of the introverted writer is a popular one—sequestered in her den as she composes the Greatest Novel of All Time. And sometimes the creative drive is complicated by more serious matters than writer’s block: drug addiction, romantic entanglements, social ostracism, to name a few.
If you want to delve further into the lives of some literary masters, here are eight biographies of scribes whose writing, and lives, prove to be enduring classics.
Tennyson: To Strive, to Seek, to Find by John Batchelor
Alfred Lord Tennyson, Queen Victoria’s favorite poet, had a wider readership than any other of his time. Resolving never to be anything except “a poet,” he wore his hair long, smoked incessantly, and sported a cloak and wide-brimmed Spanish hat. This thoughtful biography shows him as a Romantic as well as a Victorian, exploring both the poems and the pressures of his era, and the personal relationships that made the man.
The English Opium Eater: A Biography of Thomas de Quincey by Robert Morrison
De Quincey was a man of letters of the Victorian era who was also known for his lifelong opium habit and financial woes. Robert Morrison’s biography passionately argues for the critical importance and enduring value of this neglected icon of English literature.
Voltaire: A Life by Ian Davidson
The definitive biography of Voltaire’s life—from his scandalous love affairs and political maneuverings to his inspired philosophy.
The Brontës, Wild Genius on the Moors: The Story of Three Sisters by Juliet Barker
We all think we know the story of the tragic Brontë family: the drunken, drug-addicted wastrel of a brother; wild romantic Emily; unrequited Anne; and “poor” Charlotte. Juliet Barker’s landmark book demolishes these myths, yet provides startling new information that is just as compelling—but true. Based on firsthand research among all the Brontë manuscripts, this book is both scholarly and compulsively readable. The Brontës is a revolutionary picture of the world’s favorite literary family.
The Horror of Love by Lisa Hilton
The dramatic love story of two extraordinary individuals—British author Nancy Mitford and free French commander Gaston Palewski—living in extraordinary times. Lisa Hilton’s provocative and emotionally challenging book reveals how, with discipline, gentleness, and a great deal of elegance, Nancy Mitford and Gaston Palewski achieved an affair of the heart.
Charles Dickens in Love by Robert Garnett
Charles Dickens in Love narrates the story of the most intense romances of Dickens’s life and shows how his novels both testify to his own strongest affections and serve as memorials to the young women he loved all too well, if not always wisely.
Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs. Oscar Wilde by Franny Moyle
Drawing on numerous unpublished letters, Franny Moyle brings to life the story of Constance Wilde, wife of renowned Irish writer Oscar Wilde, at the heart of fin-de-siècle London and the Aesthetic movement. In a compelling and moving tale of an unlikely couple caught up in a world unsure of its moral footing, Moyle unveils the story of a woman who was the victim of one of the greatest betrayals of all time.
The Wives: The Women Behind Russia’s Literary Giants by Alexandra Popoff
Muses and editors, saviors and publishers: meet the women behind the greatest works of Russian literature. From Sophia Tolstoy to Véra Nabokov, Elena Bulgakov, Nadezdha Mandelstam, Anna Dostevsky, and Natalya Solzhenitsyn, these women ranged from stenographers and typists to editors, researchers, translators, and even publishers. Living under restrictive regimes, many of these women battled censorship and preserved the writers’ illicit archives, often risking their own lives to do so.
Best Picks for Book Club Discussions: Banned, Challenged, and Censored Books
Welcome to our series on book clubs! At the beginning of every month, we’ll present our top recommendations for your club, as well as tips on how to shape your discussion and fun extra stuff to keep the conversation going. Many of us here belong to book clubs, and Open Road even has its own employee reading group. We love nothing more than book talk. So tune in, and read on!
September 21–27 is Banned Books Week. For members of book clubs who value great literature, it might be hard to imagine the practice of book banning in the 21st century, but the fact is that censorship remains a very real threat to the availability of important works today. From obscenity trials to jail time to school board scandals, writers and their works face surprising hurdles on their way to connecting with readers and book clubs like yours.
The story of how a book was received when it was published—especially if it was censored in some way—can make for rich discussion about the culture of its day. Whether we look at the 1899 response to Kate Chopin’s then-scandalous The Awakening, or the 1967 burning of William Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner, public response to literature speaks volumes about the social standards of an era.
So, let’s celebrate our right to read this month. We’ve handpicked some of our top banned, challenged, or censored ebooks for $2.99 or less in September only. Read on!
The Book: The Prince of Tidesby Pat Conroy
The Story Behind the Censorship: Scandalized parents attempted to remove this novel—a stirring saga of a man’s journey to free his sister (and himself) from a tragic family history—from a West Virginia high school in 2007, citing violence and explicit sexuality. Conroy replied, “Because you banned my books, every kid in that county will read them.” Read his letter to the editor of the Charleston Gazettehere.
The Book: Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
The Story Behind the Censorship: First published in 1970, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee generated shock waves with its frank and heartbreaking depiction of the 19th-century systematic annihilation of American Indian tribes across the Western frontier.A school district in Wisconsin banned this now-classic history in 1974 for its controversial subject matter.
The Book: Always Runningby Luis J. Rodríguez
The Story Behind the Censorship: School districts in several states—including the author’s home state of California—have banned this gritty autobiography, in which Rodríguez portrays the sex, drugs, and violence of his former gang life in Los Angeles.
The Book: The King Must Dieby Mary Renault
The Story Behind the Censorship: In myth, Theseus was the slayer of the child-devouring Minotaur in Crete. What the founder-hero might have been in real life is another question, brilliantly explored in The King Must Die. Drawing on modern scholarship and archaeological findings at Knossos, Mary Renault’s Theseus is an utterly lifelike figure—a king of immense charisma, whose boundless strivings flow from strength and weakness—but also one steered by implacable prophecy.This work of historical fiction about Ancient Greece has been banned in some middle school libraries for having too much sex.
The Book: The Confessions of Nat Turnerby William Styron
The Story Behind the Censorship: Styron, a white, Southern author, wrote from the point of view of the leader of an infamous American slave rebellion. The Pulitzer Prize committee commended it, but it was challenged in some schools, and some activists burned the novel.
The Book: God’s Little Acreby Erskine Caldwell
The Story Behind the Censorship: God’s Little Acre is a classic dark comedy, a satire that lampoons a broken South while holding a light to the toll that poverty takes on the hopes and dreams of the poor. During a visit to Manhattan, Erskine Caldwell was arrested when the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice charged him with obscenity for this novel. Caldwell won his case, then countersued, in an important moment for First Amendment rights.
The Book: The Awakeningby Kate Chopin
The Story Behind the Censorship: “First published in 1899, this novel so disturbed critics and the public that it was banished for decades afterward,” according to the American Library Association. Overwhelmingly criticized in its day for its frank depictions of female sexuality, marriage, and a woman’s desire for independence, The Awakening is now celebrated as one of the earliest—and most revolutionary—feminist novels in American literature.
The Book: Candyby Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg
The Story Behind the Censorship: Originally released under a pseudonym, this book was first published in France in 1958, then immediately banned. The racy novel, which echoes Voltaire’s scandalous classic Candide, became a chart-topping bestseller in the United States, and brought its authors both acclaim and infamy for breaking the grip of American literary censorship along with Lolita.
The Book: Kramer vs. Kramerby Avery Corman
The Story Behind the Censorship: Adapted as the landmark film starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep, Kramer vs. Kramer is an unforgettable and heartrending story of love and devotion in the wake of divorce. A teacher removed Avery Corman’s novel about the end of a marriage and the bond between father and son from a Seattle school reading list.
The Book: Gentleman’s Agreement by Laura Z. Hobson
The Story Behind the Censorship: A landmark novel that ranked #1 on the New York Times bestseller list for five months straight, Gentleman’s Agreement speaks to the pervasive nature of prejudice after World War II. This novel was banned by one of New York’s largest public high schools in 1948, for supposedly making light of extramarital affairs.
The Book: Citizen Tom Paine by Howard Fast
The Story Behind the Censorship: In the middle of his productive, highly public writing career, Howard Fast’s Communist ties led to blacklisting and a jail sentence. In 1947, Citizen Tom Paine, his bestselling historical novel about a man who was a voice of the people and a prophet of democracy, was banned in New York public schools for supposed “vulgar scenes.”
The Book: Contract with the World by Jane Rule
The Story Behind the Censorship: Contract with the World,told from the perspectives of six characters, brings together feminism, creativity, and sexual politics. It was denied entry into Canada because “customs officials had (and have) the power to exercise ‘prior restraint’ of any book, magazine or picture they believe to be obscene.”
The Book: Zone of the Interiorby Clancy Sigal
The Story Behind the Censorship: Clancy Sigal’s hilarious, semiautobiographical saga, based on his association with the notorious psychiatrist R. D. Laing, was banned from publication in Britain, where the work is set.
The Book: Letty Fox by Christina Stead
The Story Behind the Censorship: Australia declared this frank and comedic novel a prohibited import in mid-1947 for several years. The coming-of-age tale of a woman who spins between New York City and London during her chaotic upbringing and entry into adulthood, which spans the Great Depression and the Second World War, was banned for its salacious and obscene content.
The Book: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Story Behind the Censorship: According to the American Library Association,
in 2005, an Alabama congressional representative proposed legislation that “would prohibit the use of public funds for the ‘purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.’ The bill also proposed that novels with gay protagonists and college textbooks that suggest homosexuality is natural would have to be removed from library shelves and destroyed. The bill would impact all Alabama school, public, and university libraries. While it would ban books like Heather Has Two Mommies, it could also include classic and popular novels with gay characters such as Brideshead Revisited, The Color Purple or The Picture of Dorian Gray.”
Fall is here, and so are a dozen ebooks newly priced at $2.99 or less. The September selection of historical fiction, thrillers, memoir, military history, and children’s literature will transport readers around the globe, from the American frontier to Bollywood to the depths of the ocean. Click on each cover to learn more!
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
In this nonfiction account, first published in 1970, Dee Brown describes the American Indian tribes of the Western frontier and their renowned chiefs—from Geronimo to Red Cloud, Sitting Bull to Crazy Horse—who struggled to combat the destruction of their people and culture. Buy Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee from Amazon.com, the Apple iBookstore, Barnesandnoble.com, Google Play, or Kobo.
Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A.by Luis J. Rodríguez
Luis J. Rodríguez’s memoir spares no detail in its vivid, brutally honest portrayal of street life and violence. It stands as a powerful and unforgettable testimonial of gang life, by one of the most acclaimed Chicano writers of his generation. Buy Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. from Amazon.com, the Apple iBookstore, Barnesandnoble.com, Google Play, or Kobo.
Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texansby T. R. Fehrenbach
From the native tribes who lived there to the Spanish and French soldiers who wrested the territory for themselves, then to the dramatic ascension of the republic of Texas and the saga of the Civil War years, Texan T. R. Fehrenbach describes the changes that disturbed the state as it forged its unique character. Buy Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans from Amazon.com, the Apple iBookstore, Barnesandnoble.com, Google Play, or Kobo.
This Kind of War: The Classic Military History of the Korean Warby T. R. Fehrenbach
Written by an officer in the conflict, This Kind of War restores the Korean War to its rightful place in American history—as a touchstone for United States foreign engagement and a lesson for politicians ready to shed American blood on faraway soil. Buy This Kind of War: The Classic Military History of the Korean War from Amazon.com, the Apple iBookstore, Barnesandnoble.com, Google Play, or Kobo.
The Confessions of Nat Turnerby William Styron
This explosive Pulitzer Prize–winning novel is a gripping and unforgettable portrait of the leader of America’s bloodiest slave revolt. William Styron’s complex and richly drawn imagining of Nat Turner, who led the 1831 slave rebellion in Virginia, is a stunning rendering of one man’s violent struggle against oppression. Buy The Confessions of Nat Turner from Amazon.com, the Apple iBookstore, Barnesandnoble.com, Google Play, or Kobo.
Easy Go: A Novelby Michael Crichton
Brilliant Egyptologist Harold Barnaby has discovered a message hidden inside a particularly difficult set of hieroglyphics. It just may lead him to a secret tomb holding the greatest riches of the ancient world—which, if all goes according to plan, he will steal. Buy Easy Go from Amazon.com, the Apple iBookstore, Barnesandnoble.com, Google Play, or Kobo.
Grey Wolf, Grey Seaby E. B. Gasaway
The military history Grey Wolf, Grey Sea chronicles the battles of one of World War II’s most successful submarines, U-124. Buy Grey Wolf, Grey Sea from Amazon.com, the Apple iBookstore, Barnesandnoble.com, Google Play, or Kobo.
Marching to Zion: A Novelby Mary Glickman
Against the backdrop of the Depression and brutal riots from East St. Louis to Memphis, Tennessee, a Jewish woman and a black man experience a torrent of passion, betrayal, and redemption during an era in America when interracial love would not go unpunished. Buy Marching to Zion from Amazon.com, the Apple iBookstore, Barnesandnoble.com, Google Play, or Kobo.
The Overmountain Menby Cameron Judd
Joshua Colter must face his destiny as a leader in the bitter fight for land between the Cherokee, settlers, and British royalty, all of whom struggle for power on the rugged American frontier. Buy The Overmountain Men from Amazon.com, the Apple iBookstore, Barnesandnoble.com, Google Play, or Kobo.
Super Schnoz and the Gates of Smellby Gary Urey
In the first book of this hilarious new series, Andy moves to a new school and is instantly picked on because of the size of his nose. But when his classmates discover how powerful his nose is, they decide he is more of a comic book hero than a nerd. Buy Super Schnoz and the Gates of Smell from Amazon.com, the Apple iBookstore, Barnesandnoble.com, Google Play, or Kobo.
Chicken Soup for the Kid’s Soul: Stories of Courage, Hope and Laughter for Kids ages 8–12by Chicken Soup for the Soul
In this special volume, young readers will find empowerment and encouragement to love and accept themselves, believe in their dreams, find answers to their questions, and discover hope for a promising future. Buy Chicken Soup for the Kid’s Soul: Stories of Courage, Hope and Laughter for Kids ages 8–12 from Amazon.com, the Apple iBookstore, Barnesandnoble.com, Google Play, or Kobo.
Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywoodby Varsha Bajaj
What 13-year-old Abby wants most is to meet her father. She just never imagined he would be a huge film star—in Bollywood! Buy Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood from Amazon.com, the Apple iBookstore, Barnesandnoble.com, Google Play, or Kobo.
Although the term “transgressive fiction” was coined a mere 20 years ago by critic Michael Silverblatt, this mode of shocking storytelling is contemporaneous with civilization, and in fact the very oldest extant novel, The Golden Ass, is often cited as a transgressive work. In a sense, then, literary history began with transgressiveness. The roots of all storytelling are manured in rebellion.
Basically, this type of fiction concerns itself with pushing boundaries, with violating consensual paradigms of behavior, taste, and morals, with overturning and even defiling common pieties and beliefs, and with deranging the senses and contravening the rules of the universe. If the majority of fiction exists in a law-abiding matrix of establishment-endorsed behaviors and beliefs—exists partially in order to affirm that matrix—then transgressive fiction is the outlaw branch of literature, whose purpose is to denounce, overturn, and destroy such a matrix—if only for the duration of the novel’s unfolding.
My own interest in transgressive fiction began in my early teens, and when I became a writer I was determined to perform at least a few such outrages.
In the 1960s, my parents subscribed to the offerings of the infamous Grove Press. These explosive volumes were carefully sequestered beneath piles of clothing in their bedroom closet—or, in other words, the first place an inquisitive youth would look for proscribed items. I encountered the work of de Sade—never really to my taste, but intriguing—and such pornographic classics as The Way of a Man with a Maid. While not all porn is necessarily transgressive, this one certainly was. Another Grove reprint, Under the Hill by Aubrey Beardsley, fit the bill as well.
Meanwhile my passion for science fiction and fantasy novels continued to run in parallel with this outlaw reading. Philip José Farmer, noted for his proto-transgressiveness in such books as The Lovers, burst forth unfettered in Image of the Beast and Blown. Around the same time, J. G. Ballard delivered The Atrocity Exhibition and Crash into my receptive hands. And certainly many of Philip K. Dick’s novels of this period, such as The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch and Ubik, displayed a kind of daring ontological and epistemological transgressiveness, even if they did not offer sexual hijinks or ultra-violence. And one cannot forget the Harlan Ellison–edited anthologies, Dangerous Visions and Again, Dangerous Visions, whose actual explicit remit was the taboo.
But the definitive moment when the transgressive mode crystallized for me was when I encountered Samuel R. Delany’s Tides of Lust in 1973. Famous for his science fiction and an object of my intense admiration, Delany leaped the genre fences with this novel full of sex, drugs, and the occult, and delineated the second half of his career that would be almost entirely transgressive, featuring such controversial novels as Dhalgren, Hogg, The Mad Man, and Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders.
Raptly reading and re-reading Tides of Lust, I knew I had a template and a vision for books I might one day write myself.
In college I encountered fascinating and formative transgressive works from William S. Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, and Charles Bukowski, all of which heightened my understanding of this worldview. But in the genre of fantastika, such aberrant nose-thumbing and pants-dropping books seemed on the decline. As the sixties receded, so too did many of the antiestablishment impulses and niches, and by the time Kathy Acker began to make a name for herself with her own phantasmagorically transgressive works in the 1980s, her books could only hover at the edges of an increasingly commercialized genre.
In 1985, having sold a handful of stories, I embarked on my novel Ciphers, my first foray into transgressive mode. Modeled on Gravity’s Rainbow, this conspiracy novel featured a menu of bestiality; hyperbolic racism, sexism, and ethnic stereotypes; Catch-22–style absurdist corruption; and religious heresies—all to a rock ‘n’ roll beat.
Although I was satisfied with this novel as an expression of my skills and interests at the time, I felt it failed to capture the mode as deftly as I had always envisioned. Nearly 20 more years would pass before I felt competent to write A Mouthful of Tongues—the book I had been gestating since encountering Tides of Lust 30 years earlier. More tightly focused on a small cast and singular venue, this novel explores human biology in queasy metamorphic fashion. I suppose it’s in direct line of descent from The Golden Ass! To my humble delight, I was able to elicit a blurb from Delany himself for the book, thus completing a circle of causality.
Only six years intervened until Cosmocopia appeared—a book dear to my heart, which will now happily have a fine ebook edition from Open Road Media. Cosmocopia takes a human traveler across a dimensional barrier into an alien society which is utterly sane and functional and commonplace on its own merits, but which to human eyes is a nightmare of confusion and disgust. Transgressiveness is surely in the eyes of the beholder!
What does the future hold for this type of literature?
On first glance, transgressive fiction might begin to look obsolescent, facing what might be termed the “anything goes” barrier, employing a reference to the famous Cole Porter song. In an era when S & M is mainstream, when transgender models grace the cover of TIME magazine, and when the most cynical realpolitik principles are brazenly enacted in fields of blood, then what cherished paradigms are left to overturn? How can readers be shocked any longer?
I think it remains possible to write transgressively. Pieties and conventional wisdoms and beloved icons always exist, even if they shift their forms and names. It’s simply necessary to identify them before skewering them. Helen DeWitt gives us Lightning Rods, which posits corporate sex workers who defuse executive tensions. William Vollmann gives us necrophiliac romance in Last Stories. Steve Aylett overturns heroism and the very science of storytelling in his Beerlight books. Ryu Murakami plunges into the sex clubs of Tokyo with In the Miso Soup. Simply identifying and inverting the mealymouthed platitudes of humanism and social justice could provide endless work for transgressive authors.
As for myself, my novel in progress, Up Around the Bend, can best be categorized as “postapocalyptic, utopian, UFO-centric pornography.”
And if that’s not transgressive, I don’t know what is!
Remember in college when you read through a long passage of Being and Nothingness and really wanted a break—just something to uplift your spirits amidst Jean-Paul Sartre’s bleak reality? Maybe you watched a funny video on YouTube or scrolled through your social media feeds, guilt-ridden the entire time (“I have to get through 300 pages of reading by tomorrow!”). Well, now you can indulge in distractions while staying philosophically minded! Open Road encourages you to take an intellectual break by entering our Armchair Meme Contest!
What does Albert Schweitzer have in common with a cat? Or Thoreau with First World Problems Girl? What about Kahlil Gibran with Howard from “The Big Bang Theory”? (No need to state the obvious Sartre-Grumpy Cat connection.) Check out some examples of what you can do:
Want to make your own? Here’s how:
Choose from the following philosophers: Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Einstein, Erich Fromm, Kahlil Gibran, André Gide, Albert Schweitzer, Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre, Henry David Thoreau, or Plato.Pick your favorite quote! You may have one already in mind—if not, Goodreads is a great place to search for quotes: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes
Go to http://www.memecenter.com/quickmeme or a similar site to pair your quote with a popular meme image. Post your masterpiece to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest with the hashtag #armchairmeme and tag Open Road Media.We’ll share our favorites on the Open Road blog and Tumblr and, if yours gets selected, you’ll win some philosophy ebooks. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!
Headed back to school? Make your life easier with these short guides to help you navigate your course load! Whether it’s your first year or your last, everyone can use a little help getting back into academic mode. Here are some useful student guides to give you a head start this semester:
Ever wondered what your Astronomy course had to do with your Economics course, or how Biology relates to British Literature? A Student’s Guide to Liberal Learning is essential for those who are curious about how it all fits together. This guide provides the argument for an “order and integration of knowledge” to help students gain the most from their academic careers.
Returning to campus means an overwhelming number of choices for clubs, activities, and—most importantly—classes. Deciding which subjects will be relevant down the road and which will be forgotten as soon as the exam is finished can be challenging. A Student’s Guide to Core Curriculum offers advice on choosing the courses that will allow you to get the most out of your academic experience.
If you’ve chosen English as your major, A Student’s Guide to Literature answers the question we’re all wondering: What should I read—and why? This guide provides direction for those sifting through titles and offers perspective on how literature enhances the overall academic experience. A worthwhile guide whether you consider yourself a literature aficionado or not.
If English is not your forte, maybe Economics is more your style. Economics can be a tricky course to master, so why not use a little help from A Student’s Guide to Economics? This guide provides an overview of the fundamental principles of economics and an understanding of the subject as it relates to “the totality of human society.”
Don’t see your field of study here? Check out the ISI series page to discover guides for all of your academic interests.
STARZ’s series Outlander follows Claire Randall, a married combat nurse in 1945 who is magically swept back to 1743 and forced to marry a young Scottish warrior. This brand-new series has already gained extreme popularity, and with people falling for this romantic epic set in the Scottish Highlands, we thought the timing was right to highlight some of our favorite Highland romances, perfect for fans of Outlander!
How could we not point out the bestselling novel on which the series is based? Read Outlander and see where the STARZ series began.
Highland Fling by Amanda Scott
Forbidden passion has never been more dangerous—or more irresistible—in the first novel of bestselling author Amanda Scott’s spellbinding Highland series. The setting is Scotland, 1750. In the aftermath of the Jacobite rebellion, Maggie MacDrumin vows to keep fighting to liberate her people. When her latest mission lands her in a London courtroom, she has only one hope of survival. Enlisting the aid of Edward Carsley, the powerful fourth Earl of Rothwell and her clan’s mortal enemy, is a double-edged sword. Edward will do whatever it takes to quell another bloody uprising. But how can he fight his passion for the rebellious Highland beauty in his safekeeping? As their lives come under siege, Maggie lays claim to the one thing Edward vowed never to surrender: his heart.
If You Dare by Kresley Cole
General Reynaldo Pascal orders the killing of the leader of a band of mercanaries: Courtland MacCarrick. Court escapes and captures Pascal’s beautiful fiancée. Lady Annalía Tristán hates her captor almost as much as her fiancé, and her attraction to him only fuels her fiery hate. But she must return to Pascal, for if she doesn’t, she signs her brother’s death warrant, as well as her own.
Highland Belle by Patricia Grasso
Brigette Devereux’s quest for freedom flung her straight into the embrace of Lord Iain MacArthur. She was rebellious; he was consuming. She was fair and he was darkness. Together they would set ablaze the time they had between them. But was his home a castle or a prison? Before Brigette was willing to find out, she fled. From the Scottish countryside to the streets of London, Lord Iain MacArthur would chase his prize and Brigette would flee the man who loved her. She was a free spirit and he was driven to capture her heart!
Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning
Adrienne de Simone magically travels from modern-day Seattle to medieval Scotland, where she encounters a man known as Hawk, a warrior and womanizer. No woman had ever stirred his heart, until the bold and outspoken Adrienne came into his life. Not even time can stop Hawk’s love for Adrienne.
Set in treacherous 16th-century Scotland, the first volume of Amanda Scott’s Border Trilogy tells the unforgettable story of a woman sworn to defy the knight she is forced to wed—only to discover a love she’ll do anything to claim.
The Bride by Julie Garwood
Scottish laird Alec Kincaid was ordered by the king to take a bride. He chooses Jamie, but she promised never to surrender to him, which only fueled Alec’s desire. She did everything to resist him . . . until one euphoric moment of weakness.
Highland Destiny by Hannah Howell
In the Scottish highlands of the 15th century, a powerful knight meets his match in a mysterious beauty bent on revenge. When destiny brought Sir Balfour Murray and his wounded brother down the same road as Maldie Kirkaldy, she offered her services as a nurse even as she tried to deny the desire this dark-eyed knight had ignited at first sight. Soon they discover that they both share a mission of vengeance, but Maldie cannot tell him her true identity—to do so would brand her a spy. Now, he is not only determined to unearth her deepest secrets, but also to pursue his passion for her. And nothing will stand in his way.
“Young children seem to be learning who to share this toy with and figure out how it works, while adolescents seem to be exploring some very deep and profound questions: how should this society work? How should relationships among people work? The exploration is: who am I, what am I doing?” —Alison Gopnik
Adolescents have always been underestimated, not because of what they have to say, but because of how they say it. It’s easy to undervalue young people’s ideas when they’re filled with so much anger, rebellion, passion, innocence… and yes, life. But as naïve as they may be, adolescents have a unique perspective on life. Standing on the edge between childhood and adulthood, teenagers are experiencing change—in their bodies, feelings, and social interactions. And those changes bring a great deal of questions that have enormous emotional depth.
There is an increasing interest in what adolescents have to say, which has been reflected in current cultural trends. Young adult is a booming genre and coming-of-age stories are now ubiquitous in film and literature. And it comes as no surprise that this genre greatly attracts adults when you realize that it evokes deep questions that all of us are trying to solve, no matter our age.
Inspired by successes such as Boyhood, The Goldfinch,and My Brilliant Friend,here’s our selection of books that feature fictional adolescent voices. From a novel of an Iranian American girl growing up in the American South to a boy’s coming-of-age amid an unexpected friendship, these books will remind you what it means to be alive.
is at once a moving and comical tribute to unconventional love.
Jasmine Fahroodhi’s Iranian father has always fascinated her. With his strange habits and shrouded past, she cannot fathom how he ended up marrying her prim American mother, although lately it seems that love in general is just as incomprehensible. Failing out of school just shy of graduation after a disastrous romance sends her into a tailspin, a conflicted Jasmine returns home without any idea where her life is headed. Her father has at least one idea: he has plans for a hastegar, an arranged marriage, between Jasmine and whatever man he sees fit. Confused, furious, yet intrigued, Jasmine meets suitor after suitor with increasingly disastrous, and humorous, results.
Giuseppe has red hair, pimples, and an inexhaustible reserve of money in his wallet. Vincenzo is good looking and serious, like any respectable adversary. The third friend is the one telling the story: with caustic precision, this restless narrator records dizzying teenage discoveries, the lazy inertia of the high school years, and the plunge into adulthood. The city is Bari in southern Italy—the time, the 1980s. The era of ideologies has been killed off—the streets are full of optimism; commercial television channels are recalibrating people’s desires and aspirations; “something akin to a storm front of madness” is running through Italy’s economy. The times are moving fast, and the glow of so much burned money lingers on. And under those ashes lies still more money, smoldering with the desire to be passed from hand to hand.
“Travel brochures, postcards, and license plates from decades past touted Michigan as ‘The Water Winter Wonderland!’ And in Adam Schuitema’s stories, it is just that: a wonderland where men and boys collide with sand and snow, flora and fauna; where nature is not only somewhere to explore, but a place to hide. In his Michigan, deer frolic through urban areas, old men pilfer sand dunes, and the woods are the best place to hide your Playboys. From childhood to adulthood, these guys struggle to do the right thing—searching the woods, gazing out at the lake, sifting the ashen sands—for a clue as to how to become the men they need to be.” —Michael Zadoorian
Kwei-lan is a traditional Chinese girl—taught by her mother to submit in all things, “as a flower submits to sun and rain alike.” Her marriage was arranged before she was born. As she approaches her wedding day, she’s surprised by one aspect of her anticipated life: Her husband-to-be has been educated abroad and follows many Western ideas that Kwei-lan was raised to reject. When circumstances push the couple out of the family home, Kwei-lan finds her assumptions about tradition and modernity tested even further. East Wind: West Wind is a sensitive, early exploration of the cross-cultural themes that went on to become a hallmark of Buck’s acclaimed novels.
Raymond Euripides Trevitt is not yet 10 when he resolves to make his own way in life. When a new boy, Zock, moves in next-door, he knows he has finally met his partner in life’s great adventures. As they come of age in Midwestern, midcentury America, Ray and Zock become the best of friends—even though they’re opposites in many ways. Ray takes Zock hiking; Zock teaches Ray about poetry. Together, they run away to Chicago, hide out in movie theaters, and watch Gunga Din over and over. They navigate high school together: double dating, learning about first love, getting into college. But during a summer visit home, a tragic accident leaves Ray racked with guilt and self-loathing. Broken and lost, Ray is left to find his way through life one blunder at a time, never giving up hope or relinquishing his quest for atonement.