Critical Reads: July 13, 2012, The Makeover Edition
Cinderella makeovers for the literary world.
There's been a lot of hype about shows like Extreme Home Makeover, but far more than home makeovers, I'm excited for literary makeovers. This week, Lev Grossman made over James Wood's hysterical realism argument, while Cinderella makeovers were iterated in the LA Review of Books. The Daily Beast presented a slide show of re-written novels and films, and Christopher Higgs gave his "Five Works of Theory You Should Consider Reading" a little makeover to deal more with criticism. Finally, Slate got as close to Extreme Home Makeover as we'll get with Critical Reads this week, reporting on a Walmart remodeled to become an award-winning library.
What Ever Happened to Hysterical Realism? (TIME)
It takes cojones to step into James Wood's big shoes-- in fact, that's Mr. James Wood to just about everyone in the literary establishment. And that's just what Lev Grossman has done with his take on the position of Wood's bête noir, hysterical realism, in contemporary fiction. Grossman argues, "We need novels that help us manage hysteria," not more hysteria in the tradition of big, detail-cluttered books a la Zadie Smith.
10 Re-Written Classic Novels and Films From Hemingway's a Farewell to Arms to Hitchcock (Daily Beast)
This week, to the delight of many Hemingway fans (i.e. me, etc.), Scribner released a new edition of A Farewell to Arms that includes the forty-plus endings drafted and considered by the author. It's a great testament to aspiring writers: if at first you don't succeed, try again. And again and again, as many times as it takes to get it right.
The Nature of Cinderella (LA Review of Books)
For every fairy tale, there's a plentitude of creepy versions a little too NC-17 for bedtime. This exploration of Cinderella gets into its nitty gritty of the tale's evolution, such as Marissa Meyer's cyborg iteration and Charles Perrault's "Donkeyskin" version, in which women shave their fingers down to the bone to fit the charming prince's ring. What remains the same? Nature takes the place of a fairy godmother in these fairy tales, and that's a fairy godmother with which we can all have a relationship.
How an Abandoned Walmart Became an Award-Winning Library (Slate).
If you thought the only literature available at Walmart is Chicken Soup-y, pseudo-inspirational, God-fearing/loving soapbox books or bestselling murder mysteries, you're right- except in McAllen, Texas. With the help of the fine architects at Meyer, Scherer, & Rockcastle, an abandoned Walmart was made over to become a public library with design in mind. In fact, the library has become so damn attractive, it won the 2012 Library Interior Design Award. Now the question is where to place the trophy for optimal aesthetic value.
Five Works of Criticism You Should Consider Reading (HTML Giant)
A while back, I recommended checking out Christopher Higg's "Five Works of Theory You Should Consider Reading" over at HTML Giant. In this sequel post, Higgs recommends criticism reads for the critical of heart. And what's more exciting to Critical Mob?
** Part of our Critical Reads series.
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