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Death and Desire: A Tennessee Williams Round-Up

By Leah Dobrinska. Mar 26, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature

A jack of many literary trades, Tennessee Williams is best known as one of the most prominent playwrights in twentieth century America. His play, A Streetcar Named Desire, sits alongside Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman on the top tier of twentieth century theatrical output. Williams wasn't discovered until his 30s when the success of The Glass Menagerie in New York rocketed him into fame. He followed up this play and became a household name in the late 1940s and early 1950s thanks to his best work, including Streetcar (1947) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955). Many of Williams plays were adapted, adding to his notoriety.

     
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Free of All That Noise: A Philip Roth Round-Up

By Leah Dobrinska. Mar 19, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, American Literature

"Everybody else is working to change, persuade, tempt and control them. The best readers come to fiction to be free of all that noise." ~Philip Roth in Conversations with Philip Roth

Philip Roth was one of the great, American literary geniuses of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Through his works, he explored the idea of self. He also highlighted the social and political climate of the time in which he wrote, often with satire and his particular brand of literary panache.

When Roth died in 2018, he had been awarded two National Book Awards for Fiction, two National Book Critics Circle awards, three PEN/Faulkner awards, as well as the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters (2002), a National Humanities Medal (2010), and a Man Booker International Prize (2011), among numerous other awards. But beyond these quantifiable accolades, Philip Roth had perhaps the most profound impact on countless readers who picked up his work. It's true that in his stories, he allowed us to "be free of all that noise". Today, in honor of his birthday, we've selected several of our favorite Philip Roth posts to share.

     
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James Joyce and Company: Sylvia Beach's Literary Table

By Brian Hoey. Feb 2, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Book History

Imagining literary Paris between the wars is almost too much.Many of us delight in the knowledge that, say, James Joyce and Henrik Ibsen exchanged some letters, or that C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were fast friends. The prospect of a single time and place that contained the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and others has the trappings of a literary meeting of the minds unrivaled by any setting in human history.If you think that you’d be almost irrecoverably star struck in such a setting, you’re in good company.In fact, you’re in the same boat as F. Scott Fitzgerald himself.

     
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Jack London and Living the American Dream

By Dawn Morgan. Jan 12, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, American Literature

“He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars.” ~Jack London, The Call of the Wild

Writer and social justice activist Jack London turned every life adventure into a published story. A master of fiction, his writings ran the gamut from novels and short stories, to poems, and plays, and he also wrote nonfiction essays and worked as a journalist. Born on January 12, 1876 in San Francisco, to an unwed mother, London never knew his father. He grew up poor, which was among the conditions he attributed to his success as a writer. London would become one of the most widely read and financially successful writers of his time.

     
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Mark Twain and the First Great American Novel

By Kristin Wood. Nov 30, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, American Literature, Mark Twain

It's hard to overstate the influence of Mark Twain. Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn," and many critics now cite this work as the first "Great American Novel."

While the majority of those in the English-speaking world have heard of Mark Twain, and his two most famous novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, they may not know as much about this classic American author as they may think. To start with, Mark Twain is not even his real name.

     
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Veterans Day Spotlight: The Life & Works of Tim O'Brien

"I carry the memories of the ghosts of a place called Vietnamthe people of Vietnam, my fellow soldiers. More importantly, I carry the weight of responsibility and a sense of abiding guilt." Tim O'Brien, in an interview with NPR.

Tim O’Brien, most notably acclaimed for his stories on the War in Vietnam, was born on October 1, 1947. Today, as the United States celebrates Veterans Day, we thought we'd take a closer look at O'Brien's life and work.

     
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The Controversial, Visionary Authorship of Susan Sontag

By Kristin Masters. Sep 27, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Literature

Born Susan Rosenblatt on January 16, 1933 in New York City, Susan Sontag would grow up to be not only an author, but also a critic, scholar, and activist. She began and ended her writing career with fiction; in between she traveled to war zones and contemplated the changing face of art.

     
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Seven Books We All Read in School

It's the day after Labor Day, and that means for many, it's time to go back to school. Books and school go hand-in-hand. Whether they were on summer reading lists, sprinkled throughout the general curriculum, or assigned for a book report, the following books represent some of the most common novels we all read in school. Check out some of these classic novels and relive your school days.

     
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Norman Mailer: Novelist, Activist, and New Journalist

By Kristin Masters. Jul 26, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature

On January 31, 1923, Norman Kingsley Mailer was born in Long Branch, New Jersey. He'd grow to become one of the preeminent American authors of the 20th century, writing about 40 books and countless essays and stories. Mailer's work earned him two Pulitzer Prizes and the National Book Award, while his politics garnered some less positive criticism.

     
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McSweeney's Publishing Company: Notable Titles

By Brian Hoey. Jul 16, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, American Literature, First Editions

The brainchild of acclaimed author and philanthropist Dave Eggers, McSweeney’s has been publishing vibrant, frequently off-kilter writing in various forms for more than 20 years. While for many the name McSweeney’s primarily conjures up images of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, (i.e. the good people who brought us “It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherf*ckers”), the publisher also puts out a quarterly literary magazine as well as standalone books. Though these various concerns may seem disparate, there is certainly a unity to the various Eggers-run projects, and readers can expect anything with the McSweeney’s stamp to showcase an often wry (though sometimes quite serious), literary sense of adventure.

     
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