Five literary treats to last all year long
To celebrate the holidays, we wanted to share some literary treats that can't be consumed in one sitting. Some are delivered right to you, others you need to visit. But each is a deep resource for readers, and can last all year long.
Library of America's Story of the Week. Since publishing a 1,333-page compendium of Herman Melville's South Seas novels in 1982, the Library of America has been issuing works of great American authors. The publisher has hit the expected notes -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Henry James, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine -- and some less expected, including Dashiell Hammett and Philip K. Dick. What you can't predict is what will show up in the Story of the Week, which has featured F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain, Paul Bowles, Sarah Orne Jewett and Thornton Wilder. Sometimes the stories are actually essays, by the likes of Howard Zinn and Raymond Chandler. Sign up here to recieve the Library of America's Story of the Week for free; it arrives in your e-mail box every Monday.
The Storyville app. Storyville delivers short stories to your iPhone, iPad or iTouch weekly, almost (officially, "40-plus" stories per year.) Launched in December, Storyville features work from both edgy independent publishers and the majors. Most stories are new or newish, and promise to come from a gifted eclectic set: 88-year-old writers' writer Mavis Gallant, Chicago favorite Joe Meno, New Yorker editor Ben Greenman and others. Expect a few old-style surprises in the mix, from the likes of Franz Kafka and D.H. Lawrence. Launched Dec. 14, the Storyville app is $4.99 for six months, or 20-some stories.
Five Chapters. The simple website for Five Chapters has been around for a while; it launched in October 2006 with a story by Arthur Phillips. Since then it's been publishing a story a week, every week, diced up into five daily parts. Editor Dave Daley founded Five Chapters when he was working at a glossy magazine in New York and saw his colleagues whiling away their spare time on gossip sites; Daley was inspired to put some good writing on the Web. Five Chapters offers short stories from stellar writers such as Jennifer Egan, Yiyun Li and J. Robert Lennon, and excerpted Sam Lipsyte's "The Ask" a month before it was released. All its stories are free; to read, just visit the website and return each day of the week.
Paris Review author interviews. When these went online in September, I was afraid. Afraid to look, because there's so much there to read. Since the 1950s, the Paris Review has been doing long, in-depth interviews with writers; they've released a print series, of four books so far, but the online archive made hundreds available all at once. Ernest Hemingway? Ezra Pound? Anne Sexton? John Updike? Georges Simenon? Jorge Luis Borges? John Fowles? William Gass? Kurt Vonnegut? Goodness, where to begin? How to stop, when this is what you might find? "The writer's only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one. He has a dream. It anguishes him so much he must get rid of it. He has no peace until then," William Faulkner said in 1956. "Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' is worth any number of old ladies." Faulkner and the rest can be read on the Paris Review website for free.
Save the Words. The Oxford English Dictionary launched a clever campaign to Save the Words this fall. Register on the site to adopt at-risk words -- words at risk, that is, of being dropped from the dictionary as they fall out of usage. Adopting means you make a promise to use the word in conversation; if you hear me throwing around "tabernarious" (meaning of or about taverns) you'll know where it came from. If that seems like too much responsibility, you can simply sign up for the OED's Word of the Day, delivered to you via e-mail, for a year or more, until they run out of words.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Holiday decoration. Credit: Jody Foo via Flickr