100 year book club 1918: 8 things you might not know about My Antonia and its awesome feminist author

nebraska barn

1) In the first edition, an unnamed narrator chats with Jim Burden during a train journey and Jim talks about his unhappy marriage to a wealthy female activist. The narrator in the introduction to the first edition is female, many think it is meant to be Cather herself. Cather’s publisher asked for a revision for the second edition so we now have the milder opening without the mean, wealthy, female activist. The publisher sold Cather on the idea by telling her a new introduction would allow them to market the second edition as a brand new version – removing Jim Burden’s unhappy marriage just made good business sense.

Continue reading

Biting back the spoilers for The Paying Guests

payingThere are things I want to tell you but can’t about The Paying Guests. There’s a catchy title for this blog post that I avoided using to avoid spoiling key plot points. So I’ll say what I can in this post without saying too much about The Paying Guests but really you should just read it. The excellent Sarah Waters wrote an excellent novel. The book is in three parts and Waters drops a major bomb at the end of each of the first two sections. Those two major bombs are what the book is about but I think it’s better if you don’t see any of it coming. So don’t read any of the full reviews, don’t read the Wikipedia summary, don’t pay too much attention to the jacket copy. Just read.

Continue reading

Over at Gawker: The Original Gone Girl

Guys. Do you  know who is publishing some of the best book writing around these days? The dick-pic sharing, celebrity-gossip filled, former sister site of Fleshbot; Gawker. Largely on the strength of the writing of Michelle Dean, but slowly growing, the site has added the Gawker Review of Books and in anticipation of the release of the Gone Girl movie next month they published a fascinating piece last week about Daphne du Maurier and Rebecca.

We’ll be back with some thoughts on some recent books later this week but in the meantime, head over to Gawker and peruse some excellent, if unexpected, book writing.