Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘lit in real life’

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The problem with stories

We love TED here at FWR–which, in case you haven’t encountered it before, you’re welcome, and I hope you didn’t have any work to do this month. This is an old TED talk, but one I hadn’t heard before and one I’ve been thinking about–particularly because it challenges the concept of storytelling. In his TED talk, writer/economist Tyler Cowen talks about why stories make him nervous and why we should be suspicious of stories. Here’s a snippet of the transcript: I was told to come here and tell you all stories, but what I’d like to do is instead tell […]


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Real-life literary mysteries!

Writers are sometimes a shy bunch, but two recent writing-related mysteries take that to a new level. Call it “stealth lit,” maybe. Case #1: The Mysterious Incident of the Sculptures in the Libraries Intricate sculptures carved from books have been appearing in Scottish libraries. Way back in March, the Guardian reported on the first occurrence: A tiny tree has taken root in the hearts of librarians at the Scottish Poetry Library. None of the staff at the Crichton’s Close library know who left the fragile paper tree on a table among their bookshelves. It was discovered by Julie Johnstone on […]


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A note on paraphrasing

The worlds of monument-building and writing don’t overlap much–but recently, the unveiling of the Martin Luther King, Jr., memorial on the national mall offered an important lesson on why every word matters. Perhaps you heard about it? In 1968, shortly before his assasination, Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered a speech titled “The Drum Major Instinct.” In discussing what he called “the desire to be up front… the desire to be first,” he concluded: Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice; say that I was a drum […]


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When is it fiction… and when is it just a lie?

Last week, news sources everywhere reported that the popular blog “Gay Girl in Damascus” was not, in fact, written by a Syrian lesbian named Amina Arraf. Nor, as the blog claimed recently, had Amina been arrested by Syrian police. In fact, the blog was written by a 40-year-old American grad student, Tom MacMaster, who is living in Scotland. Amina does not exist. According to NPR, in his apology post on the blog, MacMaster defends himself by claiming he was writing fiction: I never expected this level of attention. While the narrative voıce may have been fictional, the facts on thıs […]


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Elevator Repair Service @ NYPL

A while back, we wrote about Elevator Repair Service’s performance of Gatz, in which The Great Gatsby is read in its entirety onstage. Recently, Elevator Repair Service took on a different lit-meets-theatre project, which they called “Shuffle”: to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the New York Public Library, the group performed three great works of literature—The Sun Also Rises, The Great Gatsby, and The Sound and the Fury—simultaneously. According to the New York Times, the library was temporarily transformed into a piece of performance art. Visitors wandered in and out, some fascinated, others apparently dumbfounded. No, they couldn’t get the […]


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Fiction, like fishes, turns up in strange dishes.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve seen a bunch of stories lately about fiction appearing in unusual places. And I like it. First, the Standard Hotel in New York City plans to provide every guest room with an American classic during during the PEN World Voices Festival (April 25 to May 1). Author Salman Rushdie will be selecting the titles. Wouldn’t it be great if all hotel rooms came with books to read, right next to the coffee maker and mini-fridge? Next, the Telegraph reports that excerpts from Roald Dahl stories will appear on cereal boxes in the UK. The […]


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After 18 Years, Train of Thought Comes to a Halt

Whenever I’m in NYC, I love riding the subway. It’s cheap. It gets you (almost) anywhere you need to go. You get to see a wide spectrum of people: the crazies, the businesspeople, and everyone in between. And, possibly best of all, the subway cars had literary quotes. You’d sit there, waiting for your stop (because of course you ended up on the local), looking up idly at ads for banks and special gym deals, and suddenly you’d see a quote by T. S. Eliot or Franz Kafka. The MTA’s “Train of Thought” program was an extension of an earlier […]


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What's the most literate city in the U.S.?

According to the latest study by Central Connecticut State University, Washington, D.C., is the nation’s most literate city. USA Today reports: The study examines not whether people can read, but whether they actually do. […] The study, based on 2010, looks at measures for six items — newspapers, bookstores, magazines, education, libraries and the Internet — to determine what resources are available in each city and the extent to which its inhabitants take advantage of them. Seattle fell from #1 last year to #2, while Minneapolis—another perennial contender for the top spot—took the bronze. Interestingly, some smaller cities like Cleveland, […]


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…and when reality becomes fiction

On the flip side of our earlier post on fiction becoming reality, reality is apparently becoming fiction just as fast. Classic pregnancy handbook What to Expect When You’re Expecting will soon be adapted into—yup, you guessed it—a romantic comedy. Entertainment Weekly reports: Jon-HammLionsgate has confirmed that they will adapt the bestselling pregnancy bible What To Expect When You’re Expecting and intend to give it the Love Actually and Valentine’s Day treatment. In other words, we’ll see a series of intertwining vingnettes with enough star wattage to blind most any moviegoer. For those of you looking to spin the straw of […]


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When Fiction Becomes Reality

Is it just me, or have the lines between the real world and fiction been even more blurred lately? According to the New York Times‘s ArtsBeat, Grove/Atlantic will publish Sterling’s Gold: The Wit & Wisdom of an Ad Man—a fictional memoir written by the fictional Roger Sterling of AMC’s Mad Men: In a deeply facetious news release Grove Press said a box containing the book “has been found in the basement of the home he once shared with his wife, Jane.” The release continues, “Though it has been out of print for many years, Sterling’s groundbreaking book gave readers a […]




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