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Fiction & Literature

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A Literary Biography

Acker’s life was a fable; and to describe the confusion and love and conflicting agendas behind these memorials would be to sketch an apocryphal allegory of an artistic life in the late twentieth century. It is girls from which stories begin, she wrote in her last notebook. And like other lives, but unlike most fables, it was created through means both within and beyond her control.
—from After Kathy Acker

It’s the summer of 1989, a time of global flux just before the collapse of the Berlin wall and of South Africa’s apartheid; a time of signs and portents…

Two women see something uncanny in the skies over west London.

Maeve, the wife of the local vicar, finds she has lost nearly an hour of her life. In search of this lost time, she uncovers the memory of an encounter with aliens and, worse, a mysterious event from her childhood in Ireland, which she finally redeems in the underworld of an IRA-connected pub…

Tony Duvert’s novel Atlantic Island (originally published in French in 1979) takes place in the soul-crushing suburbs of a remote island off the coast of France. It is told through the shifting perspectives of a group of pubescent and prepubescent boys, ages seven to fourteen, who gather together at night in secret to carry out a series of burglaries throughout their neighborhood. The boys vandalize living rooms and kitchens and make off with, for the most part, petty objects of no value.

The Andrew Cunanan Story

It was suddenly chic to be “targeted” by Andrew.... It also became chic to claim a deep personal friendship with Versace, to infer that one might, but for a trick of fate, have been with Versace at the very moment of his “assassination,” as it had once been chic to reveal one’s invitation to Cielo Drive in the evening of the Tate slayings, an invitation only declined because of car trouble or a previous engagement...
—from Three Month Fever

A Flaneur in the Capital

Franz Hessel (1880–1941), a German-born writer, grew up in Berlin, studied in Munich, and then lived in Paris, where he moved in artistic and literary circles. His relationship with the fashion journalist Helen Grund was the inspiration for Henri-Pierre Roche’s novel Jules et Jim (made into a celebrated 1962 film by Francois Truffaut). In collaboration with Walter Benjamin, Hessel reinvented the Parisian figure of the flaneur. This 1929 book—here in its first English translation—offers Hessel’s version of a flaneur in Berlin.

Annotated for Scientists, Engineers, and Creators of All Kinds

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has endured in the popular imagination for two hundred years. Begun as a ghost story by an intellectually and socially precocious eighteen-year-old author during a cold and rainy summer on the shores of Lake Geneva, the dramatic tale of Victor Frankenstein and his stitched-together creature can be read as the ultimate parable of scientific hubris. Victor, “the modern Prometheus,” tried to do what he perhaps should have left to Nature: create life.

In the middle of the night between the 25th and 26th of November, Vincent fell from the third floor playing parachute with a bathrobe. He drank a liter of tequila, smoked Congolese grass, snorted cocaine...
—from Crazy for Vincent

Selected Stories

Tangier is a possessed city, haunted by spirits of different faiths. When we have literature in our blood, in our souls, it’s impossible not to be visited by them.
—from Another Morocco

Writing is how I attempt to repair myself, stitching back former selves, sentences. When I am brave enough I am never brave enough I unravel the tapestry of my life, my childhood.
from Book of Mutter

With Storytelling and the Sciences of Mind, David Herman proposes a cross-fertilization between the study of narrative and research on intelligent behavior. This cross-fertilization goes beyond the simple importing of ideas from the sciences of mind into scholarship on narrative and instead aims for convergence between work in narrative studies and research in the cognitive sciences. The book as a whole centers on two questions: How do people make sense of stories? And: How do people use stories to make sense of the world?

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