Happy Saturday, and welcome back to the weekly Vox book link roundup. We took last week off for the holiday, so this week we’re giving you a longer list than usual. Herewith is the best the internet has to offer on books and related topics for the week of September 4, 2016.
- In celebration of Banned Books Week, the DC Public Library has set up a banned book scavenger hunt throughout the city. Jealous!
- Nora Jemisin just won the Hugo Award for best novel. At the New Republic, she talks race and science fiction:
“There was a panel at a convention which asked who is going to be the next Octavia Butler,” says Jemisin, referencing perhaps the most prominent black female science fiction writer, who died in 2006. “It’s as though there’s one position for black woman, and it has to be filled by one person. It’s almost as though we have to choose between tokenism and exclusion, and neither is good, obviously.”
- At LitHub, Kea Wilson talks about how working at a bookstore made her a better writer:
Books have become something highly physical for me in my four years in this profession, and not simply because they are probably compromising the structural integrity of my house. They’ve become objects that I can use literally to summon people, that I group and arrange to attract the customers who I know will need them if they just see them in the right context, if they just pause to talk with me about what’s inside. Books are things that, literally, can change the direction a person is moving—and once they’re read, they often change people on a cellular level, along with their words.
- Also at LitHub is a fantastic interview with the legendary editor Nan Talese:
One of Ian McEwan’s books needed a great bit of work and I remember sending him six pages of queries and giving them also to our President, Sonny Mehta, who had been Ian’s editor in England before he came to the United States. Anyway, after Ian revised it, Sonny said to me, I see he took your advice. But I don’t look back and forth. I just read revisions like I would read a new manuscript. With someone like Pat Conroy I did a lot of cutting, whereas Thomas Cahill, he knows so much and wears his knowledge so lightly that I end up saying, please say more about this or this. Ian McEwan rarely needs an editor.
- I must confess that I love reading about someone else reading one of my favorite books, especially when they end up loving it too. Here’s Helen Garner on Pride and Prejudice:
So it came as a surprise to me that Mr. Darcy makes Elizabeth his first proposal—which she repels in a scene of breathtaking muscle and spark—on page 210. Wasn’t this rather premature? Had she hung out the flags of love too soon? I tilted the book and examined its profile. Exactly halfway! The cunning minx! She was going to make me wait another 218 pages for a resolution! Torn between despair and violent longing, I was obliged to rise from my sopha and take a turn around the drawing room.
- New York magazine has a fun, chatty profile of Ann M. Martin, the lady who authored the childhood of every Babysitters Club obsessive:
But funnily enough, it’s the act of babysitting itself — a crucial move away from childhood and toward being an adult — that Ann thinks might have triggered the books’ popularity. “Babysitting is the first step that younger kids can take in terms of taking care of something else, instead of being taken care of,” she says. When Martin was growing up, she recalls, “one of my many favorite books was called Baby Island. I just loved it, and it was so preposterous: It was about a couple of girls who are on a big ship traveling somewhere, and they get shipwrecked with a boat full of babies and they all wind up on this desert island and the older girls are in charge of the babies. I just thought, Oh my God, being in charge of these babies, what could be more wonderful?”
- And Autostraddle is delighted to realize that Ann M. Martin is queer:
You know, and the Baby-Sitter’s Club is a company founded by a brilliant, ambitious tomboy femme who empowers a diverse group of young women to get out in the world and get paid and change lives. Was Kristy Thomas based on the child Riese Bernard? It kinda seems like it! There’s a reason these books remind us so much of ourselves, even though there aren’t any overtly openly gay characters in them.
- I’ve already complained about how often Shakespeare is incorrectly listed as the person who invented thousands of commons words, but it doesn’t seem to be hampering the listicle factory. Luckily, Shakespeare scholar David McInnis has my back.
- Next spring, 77 years after F. Scott Fitzgerald’s death, you will be able to read his last unpublished short stories.
- Noted Gossip Girl actor Jay McInerney on selling out:
“As a fiction writer, you need your credibility,” McInerney said.
“John Cheever did a Rolex ad, and I remember being bummed out. Like, why would he do that?”
The reason that Legs and Gillian have been invited here is that Jess lent Rory a copy of Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk in the second season of “Gilmore Girls.” The extent to which Legs McNeil was made aware of this context remains unclear for the duration of the book club.
- Was Emily Brontë’s coffin actually 16 inches wide? Laura June Topolsky investigates:
What does it signify — what does it mean to us — to read this over and over? Simply that she was emaciated because she was so very ill? Was she deprived of even taking up the normal amount of space for a woman? Did her lack of width speak to her ethereality? It is, at the very least, depressing, right? How wide is an average coffin? Would it be a lot less wide in 1848, owing to like, smaller people and bad nutrition? Is sixteen inches really very narrow? She did have tuberculosis after all, and five-foot-seven, that’s taller than average, right?