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Hilary Mantel

The New Yorker reposts an article from 2012 on Hilary Mantel’s imagination and historical fiction. It’s worth a read especially for those who are daunted by the sheer size of her historical fiction.

The article tries to dissects some of the reasons why historical fiction is not treated as seriously a genre. It borders between fiction and nonfiction. Because historical fiction is bound by history, facts, and real characters, wanton invention when facts are to be found, or, worse, contradiction of well-known facts, is a horror. This therefore limits the writer’s authority. But Mantel seems to pull it off brilliantly, in Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. While she cannot know her characters completely, she conjures up reasonable, plausible details leading to well-known historical events. The article also explores why Mantel doesn’t care for royalty and aristocrats—and exactly why she would shine the limelight on Cromwell.

On Summer Reading

Staff writers at The New Yorker shared about their summer reads. You’ll be surprised how few titles of “beachy reads” are on the list. I, for one, is not a fan of beach reads either. If I want something soapy I’ll watch TV, which I have abandoned for years for some quality reading. There’s mention of John Muir, whose writings about Yosemite have provoked many to come see the monumental national park. There’s the mention of audio books—a good solution to books that you read when you were young but are hesitate to revisit because of their sheer size. Dostoevsky is favored over Tolstoy. Summer is also the season of far-flung immediacy—learning the rhythms and conversations in some distant city. One of the answers to this is Egyptian-Israeli novelist Yitzhak Gormezano Goren.

What are you reading this summer? I want to peruse some letters from middle age Japan, history on how Paris becomes Paris today, an introduction to the Buddhist doctrine, and Atlas Shrugged along with some very brave, charming book bloggers. Also, I find myself become increasingly satiated with crime fiction as many books in this genre have pretty much the same plot.