Literature

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The Genius of Sam Shepard Was Relentless, Without a Break

Here’s how I discovered Sam Shepard:In the ’90s, back before Giuliani and co. broken-windowed the last vestiges of seediness from Times Square, the …

Sam Shepard

List: 8 Male Authors to Read Before You Die

It is a little demoralizing that, in 2017, this sort of post still needs to be written; nevertheless, male authors continue to be underrepresented in …

Literature

Dear Dead Authors of Classic Literature: You’re Fired Because We’re Pivoting to Video

Dear Dead Authors of Classic Literature,While we value your contributions here at life as we know it, we have decided to change our platform to focus …

Humor

This woman has been slowly eating Infinite Jest for a year

<i>Infinite Jest</i>, David Foster Walace’s massive 1,079-page tome, is one of the most beloved books of this millennium, but it is also one that through …

Infinite Jest

Why Is the Edward Albee Estate Afraid of a Black Virginia Woolf?

<i>This article originally appeared in</i> Vulture.You have to give Edward Albee credit: 55 years after its Broadway debut, and less than a year after its …

Playwrights

Dark Futures

The worst thing about the present, if you’re an artist, is that it never stands still long enough. Once, perhaps, it lingered, back in the days when …

Books

Amazon made a small change to the way it sells books. Publishers are terrified.

Very recently, Amazon made a small, barely noticeable tweak to the way it sells books. And that little tweak has publishers very, very worried.<p>The change has to do with what Amazon calls the “Buy Box.” That’s the little box on the right-hand side of Amazon product pages that lets you buy stuff …

Publishing

Voice in the Wilderness

Do you have what it takes to be the voice of a generation? The voice steps into a forum—literature, film, television—dominated by older artists and …

Books

Do Semicolons Make You Pretentious?

In Kurt Vonnegut’s 2005 essay collection <i>A Man Without a Country,</i> he includes the following message on punctuation: <b>Here is a lesson in creative</b> …

Pulitzer Prize

Walden has been adapted into a video game, and you can play it right now

Is it a transcendental experience?<p>Like so many great books spoiled by mediocre high school classes, <i>Walden</i> is richer and quirkier when revisited as an adult. Yeah, it poetically recaps Henry David Thoreau’s two years (and some change) in the woods of New England, just like you remember, but the …

Henry David Thoreau

Historical women’s writing is sharp, witty, and largely forgotten. Here are 4 places to rediscover it.

Writing by women has traditionally been ignored for two reasons.<p>When a woman writes the kind of piece that is celebrated by male critics as "serious literature," she is told it is the kind of writing to which women are least suited and that she should avoid it at all costs, and her writing is …

Literature

Stephen Colbert and Patrick Stewart Wait for Godot (and an Obamacare Replacement)

The actor and the late-night host gave healthcare the theater-of-the-absurd treatment.<p>If, from time to time during the current news cycle, you find yourself mulling the existential void, or laughing bleakly at the tragicomedy of “alternative facts,” find some comfort in the fact that you are not …

Stephen Colbert

How “Sensitivity Readers” From Minority Groups Are Changing the Book Publishing Ecosystem

When Becky Albertalli published her first young adult novel, <i>Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda</i>, with the HarperCollins imprint Balzer and Bray in …

Books

M.C. Escher Cover Art for Great Books by Italo Calvino, George Orwell & Jorge Luis Borges

The writer David Auerbach once posted a fascinating inquest on left-brained literature, an examination of what he calls "a parallel track of …

Reading Literature Won’t Give You Superpowers

Psychologists have failed to replicate a famous study suggesting that short fiction improves readers’ abilities to read the emotional states of others.<p>“Reading,” according to the writer Joyce Carol Oates, “is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin.” …

Psychology

Donald Trump Says Hamilton Cast “Harassed” Mike Pence, Demands Apology

President-elect Donald Trump is none too happy about the way the <i>Hamilton</i> cast gave audience member Vice President-elect Mike Pence a piece of their …

Watch Hamilton Cast Deliver Message to Audience Member Mike Pence: “Uphold Our American Values”

Vice President-elect Mike Pence tried to take a break from the job of preparing the Donald Trump administration's move into the White House by going …

There Is a Very Specific Reason Why the Hamilton Audience Was Right to Boo Mike Pence

On Friday night, Vice President-Elect Mike Pence attended a performance of <i>Hamilton</i> and was loudly booed by the audience. A fitting reception, you …

LGBTQ

Benedict Cumberbatch Reads Kurt Vonnegut’s Incensed Letter to the High School That Burned Slaughterhouse-Five

If you've kept up with Open Culture for a while, you know that Kurt Vonnegut could write a good letter, whether home from World War II, to high …

The Sellout won the Booker Prize. This blistering passage on white male privilege shows why.

<i>The Sellout</i>, for which Paul Beatty just became the first American writer ever to win the Booker Prize, is both blisteringly funny and blisteringly furious.<p>It’s about a young black man who finds that his city, Dickens, has been taken off the map in South California, incorporated into greater Los …

Books

Father Writes a Great Letter About Censorship When Son Brings Home Permission Slip to Read Ray Bradbury’s Censored Book, Fahrenheit 451

How does censorship come about in advanced, ostensibly democratic societies? In some cases, through institutions colluding in ways that go unnoticed …

If Women Wrote Men the Way Men Write Women

McSweeney’s Internet Tendency’s 2nd Most-Read Article of 2016 <i><br>Originally published October 25, 2016</i>- - -There is a particular look about a teenage boy …

Humor

Anti-Trump 30 Days, 30 Songs project: Dave Eggers explains origin

Up until election day, artists like R.E.M., Death Cab For Cutie, Aimee Mann, and My Morning Jacket’ Jim James will be rolling out anti-Donald Trump …

Elections

Horror Stories From the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Flight Ban

On Saturday the federal flight ban on Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones went into effect in the United States. We asked our readers how this was working …

Samsung

Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize Isn't About Music

The Swedish Academy hasn’t redefined “literature.” It’s simply praised the written byproduct of a musical career.<p>The Swedish Academy’s official bibliography for Bob Dylan, recipient of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, begins with the category “Works in English.” The first listed entry is the <i>Bob</i> …

Literature

Some weirdo bought Truman Capote’s ashes for $45,000

According to <i>CNN</i>, a portion of Truman Capote’s ashes were sold at an auction this weekend for $45,000. As we reported earlier this summer, the ashes …

Literature

What if Donald Trump is really President Johnny Gentle?

Trump is a doofus, an outlier in American politics making comments that seem outlandish to both the liberal and conservative ends of political …

Donald Trump Is Ushering In the Infinite Jest Apocalypse

<b>Whoa, It's Like, Not Dying</b><p>Without a doubt, Trump's campaign launch was the defining moment thus far of 2015. It was a couple steps above Palinesque: Complete sentences, marginally connected supporting arguments. If it were his grammar school presentation on what he wanted to be when he grew up, it …

Elections

Being Virginia Woolf’s assistant looks like the best-worst job ever

Just in time for National Book Lover Day yesterday, comedian and writer Gaby Dunn released a new short on her YouTube channel called <i>Virginia Woolf’s</i> …

Literature