Tag Archives: Hunger Games

Is The Hunger Games Literature?

Greetings, literarians. We start off this hungry Hunger Games Friday with the following question: is the Hunger Games trilogy literature? Well, what is literature, anyway? Our old friend Wikipedia defines it like this: “Literature (from Latin litterae (plural); letter) is the art of written work.” Okay, so that doesn’t help, at all, but maybe this is the point, right? Literature is difficult to define, perhaps impossible to define in a single sentence, and yet there must be some consistent constellation of elements that constitute literature.

Let’s consider the following statements we’re going to somewhat arbitrarily make about literature (and determine whether The Hunger Games makes the cut, it obviously will, fyi, if you can’t handle the suspense):

It should have a good story:
Think Huckleberry Finn, Lord of the Rings, The Count of Monte Cristo, the Bible, the Arabian Nights, Le Morte D’Arthur. Critics and cranky English professors like to say things like “there are no new stories, only retelling of ancient stories,” but that doesn’t mean a piece of writing shouldn’t have a good story. Give us a freaking story, for crying out loud. Enrapture your reader! Before you write your Mrs. Dalloway or Ulysses masterpiece, figure out how to tell a story about an unlikely young person with a shadowy background whose parents may or may not be dead, who’s suddenly thrust into a position or quest he or she doesn’t want, and is only willing to accept when they meet their sidekick / Virgil / Obe-Wan figure, who then helps them begin kicking ass left and right. Tell a story! Figure out your prose later. Does the Hunger Games tell a good story? Hell yes.

Is the writing any good?
Phew. Let the controversy begin on this one. What is good writing, anyway? Who knows. Hemingway and Faulkner used to famously piss and moan at each other because Faulkner thought Hemingway didn’t know any big words, and Hemingway said something bad ass like “it’s not big words, but the old words, the strong words that the writer must command.” Well said, Hem. We of the literary tribe believe in clarity and brevity, but on the other hand we think THE RECOGNITIONS by William Gaddis and CATCH-22 are two of the greatest novels ever written. Maybe we can all agree that there’s only one book on writing that really matters: Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. Here’s an exemplary passage: Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.  Is the Hunger Games good writing? Good enough for us!

Do you think about it after you’ve finished it?
You know the feeling. You’ve finished the book and you’re like: huh. Huh? What just happened to me? Kafka, Woolf, Garcia Marquez, et cetera. I felt this way after Nicole Krauss’ The History of Love, too. Something just sticks with you and you think about the book for weeks, months, years later. Do you think about the Hunger Games after finishing it? Book 1, yes, less so with Books 2 and 3.

Does it capture a specific zeitgeist?
This is the ON THE ROAD or CATCHER IN THE RYE test, or even, to a certain extent, Jane Austen, from whose books historians make many claims about what life was really like in early 19th century England.  Okay. Admittedly, Hunger Games is a dystopian sci-fi novel, but is it? It’s about an American society in which children are forced to perform “to the death” in front of millions of viewers. I mean, couldn’t that same sentence be applied to You Tube or Toddlers in Tiaras? Scary stuff. The point is that the book is “about” a lot more than just some futuristic society in which children kill each other with people watching on monstrous floating televisions in the sky. It’s about worlds within worlds. It’s about the simulacrum. So: does the Hunger Games capture a specific zeitgeist? I’d say yes, welcome to America in the Twenty-First Century.

Net result: is the Hunger Games literature? We here at the Literary Man are all too happy to have jumped on this literary bandwagon. May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor, dear readers. Please chime in and let us know what you think!

Hunger Games Name-Creating Thingy is Fun

It has come to our attention that someone has created a Hunger Games character-creating web site. You just go to the web site, http://hungernames.com/ and it will generate a character name for you (as well as a description of your death). What’s even more amazing is that you can just hit refresh, refresh, refresh over and over and over again until you find a character name that you like (unfortunately, you’re probably still dead). Here’s how we ended up after several tries:

“We’ll Need District 2 On Our Side”

Getting very excited for the Hunger Games release. Less than a month away. Who’s down for a midnight showing?

Top Ten Literary Books of 2011

Greetings, Literarians, and welcome to the Top Ten Literary Books of2011. There are, of course, three weeks left in the year, but those weeks will likely pass in an eggnoggy blur of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Home Alone(s) 1 & 2, myriad Christmas parties, and plenty of improper caroling. Therefore, let’s break this down into our favorite / Top Ten Literary Books of 2011, followed by all the other books the Literary Man read this year (not counting the Epic Poet’s or Esme Delacroix’s books, for the sake of expediency).

Insert Eye-Pleasing Image here:

"May the Literary Odds Be Ever in Your Favor"

Update! After having compiled a list of the books the Literary Man read this year, it was determined that there were actually a few books from late 2010 that the Literary Man didn’t get a chance to read until 2011, and since this is a completely unofficial list we are going to include some 2010 books, and maybe even some much, much older books on this list, as well. So this list should really be:


10. THE INFORMATION by James Gleick

9. OPEN CITY by Teju Cole

8. Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’Abolira Le Hasard by Stéphane Mallarmé

7. THE REGULARS by Sarah Stolfa



4. THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins

3. C by Tom McCarthy

2. SWAMPLANDIA! by Karen Russell

1. MAUS I and MAUS II by Art Spiegelman

The rest of the books that the Literary Man read this year:

Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann

Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth

The Oresteia by Aeschylus

Jernigan by David Gates

Los Angeles Stories by Ry Cooder

The Battle of the Crater by Newt Freakin Gingrich

Valis by Philip K. Dick

Every Third Thought by John Barth

My Antonia by Willa Cather

Best American Short Stories 2011

The Privileges by Jonathan Dee

Dubliners by James Joyce

If This Be Treason by Gregory Rabassa

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney (re-read)

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

Palo Alto by James Franco

The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald

The Use and Abuse of Literature by Marjorie Garber

The Despicable by A. Cameron McVey

The Sportswriter by Richard Ford

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

Money by Martin Amis

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

The Ecstatic by Victor LaValle

Crash by J.G. Ballard

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (re-read)

The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll

Lamb by bernard McLaverty

West of 98 Edited by Lynn Stegner

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (re-read, obv)

Internal Combustion by S. Tremaine Nelson

The District of Camelot by S. Tremaine Nelson

Jennifer Lawrence and Novels

It has come to the attention of the Literary Man that Jennifer Lawrence has agreed to star in another film adapted by a novel. First, it was WINTER’s BONE, now it’s something called HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins. Neither of these are typically what the Literary Man would consider literary novels, but still: does this make Jennifer Lawrence a Literary Lady?

Literary Lady in Training