The Cultural Gutter

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"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

Grumpy McCarpsalot

I love to read.   I love the act of reading, the sensation of sinking mind-first into a story.  I need a certain amount of reading if I’m to function at full capacity.  I consider it a physiological necessity, like sleep, or chocolate.  Sure, I can get not-quite-enough for a few days, but sooner or later […]

Austen vs Heyer

Sherwood Smith over at Book View Cafe has a great piece about why Austen is not romance (comparing her books to Heyer).

Hot For Teacher

I always get a boost of industrious energy this time of year, and a renewed sense of purpose.  All those years of back-to-school excitement have left me with a nigh-Pavlovian response to Labour Day.  I’m one of those (apparently rare) few who actually liked school from kindergarten onwards, so the beginning of a new school […]

Meet the Author Who Outsells Rowling, Dickens and Patterson

AbeBooks has a nice profile of Georgette Heyer, a writer of all kinds of fiction, but most influential as an author of Regency romances.  The profile includes a gallery of covers from her books.

But What I Really Want to do is Direct


There are lots of great modern romance novels out there. And there are plenty of wonderfully romantic movies. Oddly enough, the latter aren’t usually based on the former (modern romance novels; in this one instance, Jane Austen doesn’t count). Which is not to say there aren’t any at all, but Twilight aside, most of them […]

All That Fairy Tale Nonsense


One of the many criticisms levelled at romance novels is that they’re a poor model for women when it comes to real-life relationships. All that fairy tale nonsense, detractors say, will make women want the wrong things from their partners. I could list a dozen things wrong with that assumption, but I’ll limit myself to […]

Vive La Difference!


Britain and France have a long history together. Okay, much of that history consists of having wars with one another. But if you look at the past as a whole, having wars is pretty much what Britain did. First, it fought at home, its various tribes jockeying for position, struggling with invaders, taking over other […]

It Takes Two

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If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard that writing is a lonely profession I would (to misquote  Stephen Colbert) have a hell of a lot of hypothetical money.  But phrases don’t become cliches without reason, and the truth is that many writers spend a great deal of their time inside their own […]

Ten To Read

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I always enjoy the ‘Best Of’ lists that come out this time of year.  Seems to me that kind of potted commentary, however limited, offers a great starting place.  So in the spirit of year-end helpfulness, here’s a list of ten romances worth reading.  Historical and modern; sexy and mild:  they run the gamut.  I’m […]

Mary, Queen Of Hearts

Mary Stewart

Despite being a rapacious reader of just about everything, during my formative years I managed to miss any number of writers who are the bedrock of their particular genres. For instance, I read Terry Brooks long before Tolkien (and yes, I’m aware of the gravity of that mistake). I didn’t discover Diana Wynne Jones until […]

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    Stacked has a sweet resource list of young adult books featuring black girls. “All descriptions are from WorldCat, and I’m absolutely eager to hear more titles. All are YA books featuring black girls front and center and they include fiction and some non-fiction. A couple of these titles also fall into that crossover category, so while they may technically be “adult” reads, they have great appeal to teens. Several of these authors have written more than one title featuring a black girl at the center, so it’s worth checking their other titles, too. Many of these are also on-going series titles. I’ve limited to one per author.”


    Michael Aguilar discusses The Giant Claw and making the stop motion wonder of “Godzilla 2014 vs. The Giant Claw, Part I!” (Thanks, Kate!)


    In a 1988 Sight And Sound interview, Patricia Highsmith talks about film adaptations of her novels, from Strangers On A Train (1950) to The American Friend (1977)


    Open Culture has a re-vamped trailer for a film adaptation of  Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius’ comic The Incal. One that never happened. “[Incal‘s] success made it a logical candidate for film adaptation, and so director Pascal Blais brought together artists from Heavy Metal magazine (in which Mœbius first published some of his best known work) to make it happen. It resulted in nothing more than a trailer, but what a trailer; you can watch a recently revamped edition of the one Blais and his collaborators put together in the 1980s at the top of the post.” (Thanks, Felipe!)


    Hyperallergic has a gallery of astronomical and cosmological illustrations from photographer Michael Benson’s books, Cosmographics: Picturing Space Through Time. (Thanks, Stephanie!)


    A homophobic Tumblr post becomes Queer dystopian adventure fiction in two responses. Behold! (Thanks, Adele!)


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