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great literature

Sparky Sweets, Ph.D. Drops Literary Wisdom in New Book ‘Thug Notes’

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When I began teaching college-level English, I was a grad student, barely older than the students in my class. We were by and large on the same page, so to speak. We were members of the same generation. We spoke the same language. Now I’m an academic dinosaur, one who’s even been known to wear his eyeglasses on a chain around his neck. Where can I turn to find someone to help me speak the language of younger, hipper students? The man to help me might be Sparky Sweets, Ph.D., host of Thug Notes, a web series of videos in which Sweets (played by comedian Greg Edwards), a man with chains of his own around his neck and a do-rag…

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5 Literary Picnic Ideas from Fictitious Dishes’ Dinah Fried

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A picnic is the metaphor for the perfect day — unless it isn’t. Too often, picnics are sadly devoid of inspiration. How many times can you drag the old picnic basket under the same tree, stuck with the same ol’ scenery and the same boring ol’ chips and dip? We’re here to save the day with some ideas from the great literary masters, some of whom have written about beautiful – and wildly diverse – picnics. From Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse to that wonderful classic The Wind in the Willows, eating al fresco has never been more intriguing. It also helps to have the input of Dinah Fried, author of Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals (Harper Books, 2014). She came up…

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Wives Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman on the greatest literary marriages

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June is full of celebrations. Traditionally the “Month of Brides,” June also blossoms forth with LGBTQ Pride celebrations worldwide. Just in case that’s not enough for you, June is also one of the most famous literary months, with June 16 being the Joycean holiday “Bloomsday”, June 19 being the “Juneteenth” of Toni Morison’s great novel, and June 23 being the date of Haruki Murakami’s first ultra-marathon. (And for those of us who love great mystery writing, Dorothy Sayer’s birthday is June 8!) All of this is actually just a wonderful rationalization for my talking to married literary icons Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, about Literary Marriage and the Rather Interesting Thing on a Boat they’re doing in September. Ellen wrote award-winning literary fantasy classics including Swordspoint – the first of the…

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BBC’s Bronte Sisters reminds us of 4 great sister scribes

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When we heard the news that the BBC is going to make a series about the Brontë sisters, we got more than a little excited. Of all the literary sisters out there, Emily, Charlotte and Anne are the most celebrated, penning classics like Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. With an alcoholic brother and an unusually supportive father, we can’t wait to see how the BBC is going to portray one of the most famous families of all time. (The portrait above was painted by their brother, Branwell Brontë, who erased his own image.) But of course the Brontës aren’t the only sisters who became successful writers. In honor of their new upcoming series, here are…

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