The Best of New Writing on the Web

February 13, 2008

Fourth Edition

Filed under: Editorial,Writing — litlove @ 5:40 pm

I’m way behind in getting this introductory post out because we’ve spent ages battling HTML code problems. Transferring material from sites seems to bring with it masses of random, stowaway code that changes font size, removes paragraph breaks, jams the text into narrow-spaced lines. It’s a nuisance. But anyhow, here we are at last, with a cracking fourth edition, full of more wonderful writing from the web.

First up is an inspirational poem from Tasting Rhubarb where you can find beautiful photography and elegant creative writing. The cool stillness of the poem was just what I wanted on a gloomy, foggy February day and I hope its serenity touches you, too.

Next is the first in a four-part post that explores childhood memories. Wheels on the Bus is a blog that mixes the everyday with the traumatic past as its author comes to terms with her experience of child abuse. I much admire the careful restraint, the humour and the sensitivity with which these toxic memories are recounted. Quality work.

To change the mood completely, the next post is from the most eloquent and insightful verbivore, whose site, Incurable Logophilia, has long been one of my favourite places to find truly excellent literary reviews. Helen of Troy is such an intriguing character, represented to us in so many literary and cinematic variations, but here we go back to the original Iliad, with a fantastic commentary on Homer’s most beautiful of women.

Fig Crumbs was probably my new discovery of the week. Professional sock pairer, Michael Crowe has one of the most catchy poetic voices I’ve come across of late. I was spoiled for choice as to which poem to crosspost here and I urge you to visit his site.

So Many Books is one of the sites I first found when I began blogging that really inspired me, and from those early blogging days, almost two years ago now, right up to the present, its quality has never faltered. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without a fix of Stefanie every day. Her series on Emerson’s writings has been a joy, eloquent, fascinating and always with a little fun. In the post I feature here, his relationship with the awkward and argumentative Carlyle is under analysis. Wonderful reading.

Anthropomorphic Motoring is the delightfully funny anecdote of what happens when you take a GPS system too seriously. Ombudsben’s site is the place where the everyday quirks and foibles of humanity get turned into bite-sized chunks of pure entertainment. Always keeping it more or less real, I visit this site for a taste of anecdotal ambrosia.

Returning to the genre of memoir, I loved the gentle, engaging reminiscences to be found at Quirk. The story bound together so well its elements of action and of reflection, of travel memoir and young man’s autobiography. I admired the smooth, easy voice of this writer.

And last but by no means least, the short story this edition comes from Beautiful Desolation, where you can find a wealth of quality fiction pieces. This bittersweet tale of covert family feuding at a funeral is sharply written, rich and insightful.  A fantastic way of rounding off this edition of smart and talented writers.

I hope you enjoy all the work on display here. I have to let you know that I’ll be posting here once a month from now on – so sorry, just so much on for me at the moment that I can’t really commit to doing more than that. But with so many fantastic blogs already here for your exploration, I know you won’t be left wanting for something to read.

February 11, 2008

A Brief Delay

Filed under: Editorial — litlove @ 1:54 pm

Many apologies, folks. The next edition will be a couple of days later in arriving than usual – let’s say Wednesday. Just a few technical hitches!

January 28, 2008

Third Edition: Telling It Like It Is

Filed under: Editorial,Writing — litlove @ 12:09 pm

January 14, 2008

Second Edition: Refutations

Filed under: Editorial,Writing — litlove @ 12:10 pm

As I was compiling this edition, it struck me that the posts featured stood as convincing ripostes to the endless clichés we have to put up with from the mainstream media that claim bloggers are ‘Pooters’, talentless, dull navel gazers whose limited concerns are matched by limited skills. Not only is the quality of writing amongst these pieces far higher than any you’ll find in a daily newspaper, but there’s a halo of intelligence that glimmers around them, born from mastery of the medium and confidence in their knowledge. Many were drawn from community sites that foster and promote creativity in the arts, again belying the tedious insistence that such forums do not exist online, or if they did would only turn into cabals. I’ve been consistently astounded by the quality of the creative writing sites and the artistic web ‘zines that I’ve come across. Where else in our contemporary media would you find such community support given so generously and to such good effect? Quite.

If you scroll down through the eight featured posts in this edition, you’ll find two brilliant poems, one by the magnificent jillypoet whose work I discovered at the impressive poetry site readwritepoem. Jill has also started her own community site called poem, where: ‘Each month we will read a poem by a well-known or lesser-known poet, then discuss for a week. The next week we will write from a prompt based on the poem (and maybe other poems like it). The next week we’ll have everyone post links to their poems, and the final week, well, it’s a poetry free-for-all.’ The other is by the equally, but differently wonderful Chris Powici, which I found featured at the online literary magazine, Dogmatika. Experimental and fearless, Dogmatika gives us all confidence in the continuation of original art. Chris also provides poems for PoetryScotland, whose open mouse section has a fine crop of poems chosen from open submissions.

Flash fiction comes from the talented TiV at The Individual Voice, in the form of an uncanny trip down the lesser traveled corridors of a hospital, whilst this edition’s short story, a fantastic rewrite of the Robinson Crusoe legend, is by Canadian writer Jeff Bursey. I loved the slow-burning quality of this one, and the way the plot gradually unfolds before the reader’s eyes. I should say that this story is also available at Scarecrow, another formidable mine of literary and artistic talent, but although I emailed the editor to check it was ok to reproduce the story here, my mail kept pinging back to me. So hope this is ok, Scarecrow!

On the non-fiction side there’s a glorious evocation of a reader’s developing relationship to James Joyce’s Ulysses (the author already has a book published) that came originally from that other wonderful community site, Chekhov’s Mistress, run by the ever inventive and magisterially organized Bud Parr. There’s an entertaining and subtly enlightening post by writer Lloyd Mintern at Black Mirrors that defies any kind of conventional categorization I’ve ever come across but can best be described as philosophical life writing (check out the site – I was spoiled for choice), a brilliantly incisive and well-informed book review from the consistently humane and humanitarian Charlotte’s Web, and a hilarious post from the Little Professor, who envisages the possibility of an academic Olympics. Once you’ve read it, you’ll wonder how such an event doesn’t already exist….

Please do keep the suggestions and nominations coming in – I rely on you to keep me informed and up to date. If you do not see your work, or your nominated work here, then don’t lose faith. I find myself making decisions on issues of variety and length that have nothing to do with the quality of people’s work, and I’ve had to put aside for another time several posts I would dearly have liked to include. I’ll get around everyone in the end. Next fortnight’s edition will be particularly focused on bloggers setting the world to rights. Politics, religion, domestic, cultural and artistic issues, all most welcome here. Enjoy this edition and keep blogging!

January 1, 2008

Welcome to the First Edition!

Filed under: Editorial,Writing — litlove @ 12:08 pm

A very Happy New Year to you all! I hope you’ve enjoyed wonderful festive celebrations and are in the mood to begin 2008 with some fantastic new writing from around the blogosphere. May I offer a very big thank you to everyone who nominated a blog post for inclusion here – I could not have done this without you. There was so much excellent material to choose from, but I finally settled on the eight posts you’ll find below.

First up is a delightful poem by Anne Holloway (links to sites are included with the post) that is everything I think a poem should be: direct, accessible, moving, real. However do people write poetry? Having tried it myself and produced nothing but abject disasters, I have such respect for writers who can make the everyday sing in this way.

Next, from The Sacred Journey, is a glorious meditation on recovery and recuperation. I like the way the French say it, with the verb ‘se remettre’ which literally means to put oneself back into place again. The author of this piece is currently recounting his travels in the Grand Canyon at his blog, and I can highly recommend those posts, too.

I’d not come across The American Fez before, but when I found his pithy, hilarious posts, I knew I had to include one here. I do love a writer who can make me laugh, and his concise account of anarchy amongst the Christmas toys is just a joy.

Remaining in humourous vein, the next post, from Telecommuter Talk, considers the madness of Hollywood through the recent festive release of Beowulf with its dubious casting of Angelina Jolie as Grendel’s mother. ‘Tell me the truth now. She’s exactly what your imagination conjured up, isn’t she?’ But I also love the perceptive analysis of the way that films of books can ruin our cherished illusions. Posts that make me laugh and have something to say: now those are something quite special.

In fact the blogosphere has made me rethink all kinds of cherished illusions of my own. I never had much interest in flash fiction, indeed never believed it to be a genre capable of producing anything worthy of the name of literature until I started reading Very Short Novels. In the fifteen months or so that this blog has been going, I don’t think I’ve read anything by this author that is less than brilliant, but ‘Overdue Books’ which I include here is touched by a special kind of Christmas magic. So much creativity packed in 299 words is a pretty impressive feat.

I’m also a big fan of Dan Green at The Reading Experience. It’s a favourite occupation of his to take the hackneyed or hidebound statements that get flung around in our media culture about reading and writing and put them through the meat mincer of his intelligence. He was in fine, provocative, perceptive mode when he wrote about the notion that reading is for an elite percentage of the population.

The Ruricolist was another new blog to me, however, but I instantly admired this writers exquisite short essays. In the post I’ve chosen below, he meditates on the often surprising life of the notebook, and its sentimental and historical value. I love writers who can pack depth and richness into a few short paragraphs.

Finally I’ve ended on a seasonal – if subversive – note with a hilarious short story from the talented Andy Rants. I think it’s really hard to do Christmas stories well, but the verve and the acidic edge of this author’s writing are just irresistible.

I could have chosen at least another eight posts from the material I had, so if you have put work forward and it hasn’t been included here, please do not be discouraged. There will be many more editions of this blogzine ahead, I hope, so just keep your writing coming. If you think you can do better than the authors featured here, or know of a blogger you deeply admire, excellent: email me with indecent haste at litlove@tbrbooks.com. Finally, the format of this blog may change as it’s all experimentation at present and this was the simplest way I could do it. If you have any thoughts, suggestions or comments, I’d be delighted to hear them. And I’ll be posting the next edition in a fortnight’s time. So, I’ll send my warmest wishes for a productive, creative 2008 and leave you to enjoy the wonderful writing of fellow bloggers.

 

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