It is Saturday, and it is officially spring. You made it! To celebrate, here is the best the web has to offer for book-related news from the week of March 28, 2016.
- The 2015 VIDA Count is in with its annual assessment of women’s representation in top-tier literary publications, and we discussed it here at Vox.
- You do not need to read that Telegraph article about how the internet has rendered the library obsolete; you already know that claim to be nonsense. Instead, mosey on over to the Guardian to read Neil Gaiman's account of being "a feral child who was raised in libraries."
- Jezebel has a really thoughtful take on VIDA’s recent allegations about Thomas Sayers Ellis at the Iowa Writers' Workshop with "Is This the End of the Era of the Important, Inappropriate Literary Man?" (note that the post contains discussions of rape and sexual assault):
His case seems to suggest that we’ve arrived at a new stage of this era. The important, inappropriate literary man is going to face his retribution. Or at least, certainly, the literary community is poised to bring him to some end.
- Io9 asks, "If You've Never Read The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, What's Wrong With You?" and I have to agree with them:
The greatest superpower in this series isn’t magic or physical prowess, it’s practicality. The villains are greedy and lazy, in that "if you put all the energy you gave to cheating into doing this right, you’d be done by now" way. All of our heroes are competent and practical. Rejection of orthodoxy, in favor of what works best for them, defines every single one of the good guys.
- If you have never read Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, the Toast’s list of every time the narrator nearly has tea will tell you everything you need to know about it:
Only the first Mrs. de Winter deserved to have tea.
- Chloe Caldwell on teaching writing without a college degree is lovely:
Over the summer getting a blowout at Drybar, I turned to my right and saw one of my students in the chair next to me. Shit. I worried she'd think I was frivolous, or worse, rich. Appearance is a motherfucker. A broke writer, I'm happy to model for people, but a broke teacher?
- "To Feed Hungry Minds, Afghans Seed a Ravaged Land With Books," about the challenges of operating a library in Afghanistan, as reported by the New York Times, is fascinating:
But the interest of a couple of female readers, who approached women in the Haidary family about their interest in the books, has caused a small dilemma in a society that frowns upon even sharing the names of women in public: How can the library keep track of who took the books out if it cannot write the women’s names?
One proposal was to use pseudonyms for the women instead of writing their real names in the register, but that would create another problem: How would poor Mr. Haidary remember which pseudonym belongs to whom?
- Sofia Samatar, author of The Winged Histories, has a beautiful ode to fantasy over on LitHub:
Fantasy, the place I was looking for, is not to be found in dragons, ghosts, or magic wands. It resides in language. Fantasy is death by owls. It’s mourning through gesture. It’s music, incantation in half-light. An inverted heart.
- Betty Rosen on corpses in contemporary Iraqi fiction is just stunning:
The word’s matter-of-factness is appalling. It’s impossible to say without sounding callous; it callouses language. It scabs over the incisions from which might bleed a living, inexpressible pain. Elaine Scarry rightly characterizes pain as the ultimate incommunicable experience, and so jutha requires a second act of translation after the transport from one dictionary to another: a transport out of a world of shelling, sniper fire, daily car bombs, bloodied sidewalks, and a decayed border between realistic and unrealistic brutality.
- The New York Times wants to know what authors you had to grow into. I myself tried to read Sense and Sensibility much too young and spent years thinking of Jane Austen as that dull woman who was obsessed with how much money everyone earned.