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  1. 15.2 hrs • 9/20/2016 • Unabridged

    A new collection of critical and personal essays on writing, obsession, and inspiration from National Book Award–winning and New York Times bestselling author Joyce Carol Oates. “Why do we write?” With this question, Joyce Carol Oates begins an imaginative exploration of the writing life, and all its attendant anxieties, joys, and futilities, in this collection of seminal essays and criticism. Leading her quest is a desire to understand the source of the writer’s inspiration—do subjects haunt those that might bring them back to life until the writer submits? Or does something “happen” to us, a sudden ignition of a burning flame? Can the appearance of a muse-like Other bring about a writer’s best work? In Soul at the White Heat, Oates deploys her keenest critical faculties, conjuring contemporary and past voices whose work she deftly and creatively dissects for clues to these elusive questions. Virginia Woolf, John Updike, Emily Dickinson, Henry James, J. M. Coetzee, Margaret Atwood, Joan Didion, Zadie Smith, and many others appear as predecessors and peers—material through which Oates sifts in acting as literary detective, philosopher, and student. The book is at its most thrilling when watching the writer herself at work, and Oates provides rare insight into her own process, in candid, self-aware dispatches from the author’s own writing room. The New York Times Book Review has raved, “who better than Joyce Carol Oates … to explicate the craft of writing?” Longtime admirers of Joyce Carol Oates’s novels as well as her prose will discover much to be inspired by and obsess upon themselves in this inventive collection from an American master.

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    Soul at the White Heat by Joyce Carol Oates

    Soul at the White Heat

    15.2 hrs • 9/20/16 • Unabridged
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  2. 13.5 hrs • 11/9/2015 • Unabridged

    The professional and personal lives of the pioneers of an enduring magazine, the New Yorker From its birth in 1925 to the early days of the Cold War, the New Yorker slowly but surely took hold as the country’s most prestigious, entertaining, and informative general-interest periodical. In Cast of Characters, Thomas Vinciguerra paints a portrait of the magazine’s cadre of charming, wisecracking, driven, troubled, and brilliant, writers and editors. He introduces us to Wolcott Gibbs, theater critic, all-around wit, and author of an infamous 1936 parody of Time magazine. We meet the demanding and eccentric founding editor Harold Ross, who would routinely tell his underlings, “I’m firing you because you are not a genius,” and who once mailed a pair of his underwear to Walter Winchell, who had accused him of preferring to go bare-bottomed under his slacks. Joining the cast are the mercurial, blind James Thurber, a brilliant cartoonist and wildly inventive fabulist; and the enigmatic E. B. White—an incomparable prose stylist and Ross’ favorite son—who married the New Yorker’s formidable fiction editor, Katharine Angell. Then there is the dashing St. Clair McKelway, who was married five times and claimed to have no fewer than twelve personalities, but was nonetheless a superb reporter and managing editor alike. Many of these characters became legends in their own right, but Vinciguerra also shows how, as a group, the New Yorker’s inner circle brought forth a profound transformation in how life was perceived, interpreted, written about, and published in America. Cast of Characters may be the most revealing―and entertaining―book yet about the unique personalities who built what Ross called not a magazine but a “movement.”

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    Cast of Characters by Thomas Vinciguerra

    Cast of Characters

    13.5 hrs • 11/9/15 • Unabridged
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  3. 25.6 hrs • 10/13/2015 • Unabridged

    Ted Hughes, Poet Laureate, was one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. He was one of Britain’s most important poets, his work infused with myth; a love of nature, conservation, and ecology; fishing; and beasts in brooding landscapes. With an equal gift for poetry and prose, and with a soul as capacious as any poet in history, he was also a prolific children’s writer and has been hailed as the greatest English letter-writer since John Keats. His magnetic personality and insatiable appetite for friendship, love, and life also attracted more scandal than any poet since Lord Byron. His lifelong quest to come to terms with the suicide of his first wife, Sylvia Plath, is the saddest and most infamous moment in the public history of modern poetry. Hughes left behind a more complete archive of notes and journals than any other major poet, including thousands of pages of drafts, unpublished poems, and memorandum books that make up an almost complete record of Hughes’ inner life, which he preserved for posterity. Renowned scholar Jonathan Bate has spent five years in the Hughes archives, unearthing a wealth of new material. His book offers, for the first time, the full story of Hughes’ life as it was lived, remembered, and reshaped in his art. It is a book that honors, though not uncritically, Hughes’ poetry and the art of life-writing, approached by his biographer with an honesty answerable to Hughes’ own.

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    Ted Hughes

    25.6 hrs • 10/13/15 • Unabridged
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  4. 7.3 hrs • 9/15/2015 • Unabridged

    Credited with sparking the current memoir explosion, Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club spent more than a year at the top of the New York Times list. She followed with two other smash bestsellers: Cherry and Lit, which were critical hits as well. For thirty years Karr has also taught the form, winning teaching prizes at Syracuse. (The writing program there produced such acclaimed authors as Cheryl Strayed, Keith Gessen, and Koren Zailckas.) In The Art of Memoir, she synthesizes her expertise as professor and therapy patient, writer and spiritual seeker, recovered alcoholic and “black belt sinner,” providing a unique window into the mechanics and art of the form that is as irreverent, insightful, and entertaining as her own work in the genre. Anchored by excerpts from her favorite memoirs and anecdotes from fellow writers’ experience, The Art of Memoir lays bare Karr’s own process. (Plus all those inside stories about how she dealt with family and friends get told—and the dark spaces in her own skull probed in depth.) As she breaks down the key elements of great literary memoir, she breaks open our concepts of memory and identity, and illuminates the cathartic power of reflecting on the past; anybody with an inner life or complicated history, whether writer or reader, will relate. Joining such classics as Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, The Art of Memoir is an elegant and accessible exploration of one of today’s most popular literary forms—a tour de force from an accomplished master pulling back the curtain on her craft.

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    The Art of Memoir

    Read by Mary Karr
    7.3 hrs • 9/15/15 • Unabridged
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  5. 8.6 hrs • 5/15/2015 • Unabridged

    Published in 1956, Peyton Place became a bestseller and a literary phenomenon. A lurid and gripping story of murder, incest, female desire, and social injustice, it was consumed as avidly by readers as it was condemned by critics and the clergy. Its author, Grace Metalious, a housewife who grew up in poverty in a New Hampshire mill town and had aspired to be a writer from childhood, loosely based the novel’s setting, characters, and incidents on real-life places, people, and events. The novel sold more than thirty million copies in hardcover and paperback, and it was adapted into a hit Hollywood film in 1957 and a popular television series that aired from 1964 to 1969. More than half a century later, the term “Peyton Place” is still in circulation as a code for a community harboring sordid secrets. In Unbuttoning America, Ardis Cameron mines extensive interviews, fan letters, and archival materials, including contemporary cartoons and cover images from film posters and foreign editions, to tell how the story of a patricide in a small New England village circulated over time and became a cultural phenomenon. She argues that Peyton Place, with its frank discussions of poverty, sexuality, class and ethnic discrimination, and small-town hypocrisy, was more than a tawdry potboiler. Metalious’s depiction of how her three central female characters come to terms with their identity as women and sexual beings anticipated second-wave feminism. More broadly, the novel was also part of a larger postwar struggle over belonging and recognition. Fictionalizing contemporary realities, Metalious pushed to the surface the hidden talk and secret rebellions of a generation no longer willing to ignore the disparities and domestic constraints of Cold War America.

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    Unbuttoning America by Ardis Cameron

    Unbuttoning America

    8.6 hrs • 5/15/15 • Unabridged
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  6. 2.6 hrs • 3/31/2015 • Unabridged

    Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis loved literature, especially poetry. “Once you can express yourself,” she wrote, “you can tell the world what you want from it…All the changes in the world, for good or evil, were first brought about by words.” Now, Caroline Kennedy shares her mother’s favorite poems and the inspiration behind her strong belief in the power of literature.  The poems presented span centuries and include works by such renowned authors as Langston Hughes, William Shakespeare, Homer, W.B. Yeats, Emily Dickinson, E.E. Cummings, and Robert Frost. This volume also includes poems by Jacqueline Kennedy. Illustrated with photographs of the Kennedy family, and illuminated by Caroline’s reflections on her mother’s life and work. A wonderful volume for reading aloud or by yourself, a meaningful gift or keepsake, this book offers an intimate view of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ world, and a poignant glimpse into her heart.

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    The Best Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

    Selected by Caroline Kennedy
    Read by various narrators, with a special reading by Edward M. Kennedy
    2.6 hrs • 3/31/15 • Unabridged
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  7. 5.7 hrs • 1/6/2015 • Unabridged

    A debate, nearly to the death, about life and art—cocktails included—and basis for the major motion picture from James Franco Caleb Powell always wanted to become an artist, but he overcommitted to life (he’s a stay-at-home dad of three young girls), whereas his former professor David Shields always wanted to become a human being, but he overcommitted to art (he has five books coming out in the next year and a half). Shields and Powell spend four days together at a cabin in the Cascade Mountains, playing chess, shooting hoops, hiking to lakes and an abandoned mine; they rewatch My Dinner with André and The Trip, relax in a hot tub, and talk about everything they can think of in the name of exploring and debating their central question (life and/or art?): marriage, family, sports, sex, happiness, drugs, death, betrayal—and, of course, writers and writing. The relationship—the balance of power—between Shields and Powell is in constant flux, as two egos try to undermine each other, two personalities overlap and collapse. This audiobook seeks to deconstruct the Q&A format, which has roots as deep as Plato and Socrates and as wide as Laurel and Hardy, Beckett’s Didi and Gogo, and Car Talk’s Magliozzi brothers. I Think You’re Totally Wrong also seeks to confound, as much as possible, the divisions between “reality” and “fiction,” between “life” and “art.” There are no teachers or students here, no interviewers or interviewees, no masters in the universe—only a chasm of uncertainty in a dialogue that remains dazzlingly provocative and entertaining from start to finish.

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  8. 4.7 hrs • 10/2/2013

    Few writers are more often read, and better loved, than Charles Dickens and Samuel Langhorne Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain. Many of the characters populating their novels have become household words, cultural landmarks in their own right—Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, David Copperfield and Oliver Twist. It is as if we have known them our entire lives. In this course we take a look at the lives and works of both authors, comparing and celebrating them, in their use of use language, in their humor, in their evocation of character, and in their evaluation of the social world in which they find themselves.

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  9. 4.8 hrs • 8/16/2013 • Unabridged

    In January 1953, William S. Burroughs began an expedition into the jungles of South America to find yage, the fabled hallucinogen of the Amazon. From the notebooks he kept and the letters he wrote home to Allen Ginsberg, Burroughs composed a narrative of his adventures that later appeared as The Yage Letters. For this edition, Oliver Harris has gone back to the original manuscripts and untangled the history of the text, telling the fascinating story of its genesis and cultural importance. Also included in this edition are extensive materials, never before published, by both Burroughs and Ginsberg.

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    The Yage Letters Redux

    Edited by Oliver Harris
    4.8 hrs • 8/16/13 • Unabridged
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  10. 4.1 hrs • 5/21/2013 • Unabridged

    In 2012, Ali Smith delivered the Weidenfeld lectures on European comparative literature at St. Anne’s College, Oxford. Those lectures, presented here, took the shape of discursive stories that refused to be tied down to either fiction or the essay form. Thus, Artful is narrated by a character who is haunted—literally—by a former lover, the writer of a series of lectures about art and literature. A hypnotic dialogue unfolds between storytelling and a meditation on art that encompasses love, grief, memory, and revitalization. Smith’s heady powers as fiction writer harmonize with her keen perceptions as reader and critic to form a living thing that reminds us that art and life are never separate. Artful is a celebration of and meaningful contribution to literature’s enduring worth in the world. There has never been a book quite like it.

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    Artful

    Read by Ali Smith
    4.1 hrs • 5/21/13 • Unabridged
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  11. 4.1 hrs • 5/2/2013 • Unabridged

    Adapted from four lectures given at Oxford University by Ali Smith, author of bestselling The Accidental, Artful is a tidal wave of ideas in four thematically organised bursts of thought: ‘On Time’, ‘On Form’, ‘On Edge’ and ‘On Offer and On Reflection’. Refusing to be tied down to either fiction or the essay form, Artful is narrated by a character who is haunted, literally, by a former lover, the writer of a series of lectures about art and literature. Full of both the poignancy and humour of fiction and all the sideways insights and jaunty angles you would expect from Ali Smith’s criticism, it explores form, style, life, love, death, mortality, immortality, and what art and writing can mean.

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    Artful by Ali Smith

    Artful

    Read by Ali Smith
    4.1 hrs • 5/2/13 • Unabridged
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  12. 0 reviews 0 5 4.6 4 out of 5 stars 4.6/5
    7.8 hrs • 4/2/2013 • Unabridged

    Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game is a classic of science fiction. Though it began its life as a short story, it was later expanded into a Hugo and Nebula Award–winning novel, served as a springboard for a much larger universe of stories, and finally, has been made into a feature film. In Ender’s World over a dozen writers of science fiction, fantasy, and young adult books offer new perspectives on the 1985 novel, along with insights gleaned from other Ender stories that fit within the Ender’s Game chronology, including Ender in Exile and Ender’s Shadow. In addition, military strategists Colonel Tom Ruby and Captain John Schmitt offer insight into the human-Formic war. Also included is a contribution from Aaron Johnston, the coauthor of the Formic Wars prequel novels. The collection’s insightful analyses and moving personal essays are rounded out with short pieces answering more technically oriented questions about the Ender universe, including why the Battle Room is a cube and why the military recruited their soldiers as children. Edited by Orson Scott Card himself, who also provides an introduction to the anthology as well as to the individual essays, Ender’s World is aimed both at readers who have kept up with the many books that came after and at those who simply want to revisit the original novel.

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    Ender’s World by Orson Scott Card

    Ender’s World

    7.8 hrs • 4/2/13 • Unabridged
    0 reviews 0 5 4.6 4 out of 5 stars 4.6/5
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  13. 7.4 hrs • 1/14/2013 • Abridged

    Esteemed professor Joseph Luzzi addresses the place of classic literature in the modern world with this riveting series of lectures. Advocating “the art of reading” as a way to answer essential questions of day-to-day life, Luzzi delves into the works of such literary titans as Plato, Shakespeare, and Virginia Woolf. By doing so, he tackles such age-old questions as “How do we fall in love?” and “How do we confront evil?”

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  14. 8.4 hrs • 1/1/2013

    Professor Raphael Shargel channels his passion for teaching and expertise as a Shakespearean scholar into this illuminative study of the Immortal Bard’s ten great comedies. Shakespeare’s genius is as readily apparent in these comedies as in his timeless tragedies. Often marked by internal and external conflicts, young lovers struggling for union, mistaken identities, and intertwining plots, Shakespeare’s comedies to this day reveal the master’s unparalleled insight into the human condition. With a fresh take on some of Shakespeare’s most cherished and widely seen works, Professor Shargel provides an invaluable understanding of these exquisite comedies.

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  15. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    9.6 hrs • 12/11/2012 • Unabridged

    What does it mean when a fictional hero takes a journey? Shares a meal? Gets drenched in a sudden rain shower? There is often much more going on in a novel or poem than is readily visible on the surface—a symbol, maybe, that remains elusive, or an unexpected twist on a character—and there’s that sneaking suspicion that the deeper meaning of a literary text is escaping you. In this practical and amusing guide to literature, Thomas C. Foster shows how easy and gratifying it is to unlock those hidden truths, and to discover a world where a road leads to a quest; a shared meal may signify a communion; and rain, whether cleansing or destructive, is never just rain. Ranging from major themes to literary models, narrative devices, and form, How to Read Literature Like a Professor is the perfect companion for making your reading experience more enriching, satisfying, and fun.

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    How to Read Literature Like a Professor

    9.6 hrs • 12/11/12 • Unabridged
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  16. 1 reviews 0 5 2.3 2 out of 5 stars 2.3/5 (1)
    3.8 hrs • 7/15/2012 • Abridged

    This hilarious books reveals David Foster Wallace as he delves further and further into his search for the original, the curious, or the merely mystifying. Do lobsters feel pain? Did Franz Kafka have a funny bone? What is John Updike’s deal, anyway? And what happens when adult video starlets meet their fans in person? Wallace answers these questions and more in essays that are also enthralling narrative adventures. Whether covering the three-ring circus of a vicious presidential race, plunging into the wars between dictionary writers, or confronting the world’s largest lobster cooker at the annual Maine Lobster Festival, Wallace projects a quality of thought that is uniquely his and a voice as powerful and distinct as any in American letters.

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    Consider the Lobster

    3.8 hrs • 7/15/12 • Abridged
    1 reviews 0 5 2.3 2 out of 5 stars 2.3/5 (1)
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