Welcome to the weekly Vox book link roundup, a curated collection of the best writing on the web about books and related subjects. Here’s the best the internet has to offer for the week of December 10, 2017.
- At Electric Literature, Jessica Jernigan struggles with learning that the celebrated feminist Arthurian retelling The Mists of Avalon was written by an abuser:
I didn’t even know how to process this information. I believed Greyland, absolutely, but I just couldn’t make this revelation fit with The Mists of Avalon and what that book meant to me. Bradley was not an author to whom I had a personal attachment. I’d never gotten into anything she’d written besides The Mists of Avalon. Had I been more of a fan, I might have seen the pedophilia threaded through her other work.
- At the New York Times, Carl Wilson examines how Rupi Kaur became one of the most popular poets in the world:
It’s less the content than their plain conversational style that gets them dismissed as “not real poetry.” The Instapoets don’t do much for me aesthetically either: It’s often said of Ashbery that his poems actively resist paraphrase of their meanings, to slip from thought to thought like a dream, like music. These poets, on the other hand, print the paraphrase. But my tastes aren’t the point here. They’re those of a 20th-century leftover who has spent decades reading poems on pages. These poets’ directness suits their media, at their best disrupting never-ending streams of gossip, selfies and opinion-mongering with stark emotional clearings that aren’t entirely unlike the mental stillness and “othering” fostered by poetry’s traditional techniques.
- Also at the New York Times, departing daily book critic Jennifer Senior writes in praise of the acknowledgment section:
I love the acknowledgments sections of books. I love what they say and what they do not say. I love what they accidentally say. I love the ways families are discussed, and how the truth about the wretchedness of book-writing finally comes tumbling out, and the combination of neuroticism and relief, pride and latent terror.
- At LitHub, Annie Spence explains what it’s like to be a part-time public librarian:
Some days, the difference between a day and evening shift in the public library can feel like the difference between an episode of Law & Order and Night Court. Being tasked with this responsibility is problematic, not because part-time librarians are any less capable than our full-time peers, but because of the vulnerable place it puts us (and our patrons) in. Do rules that make sense during the day, like a rule that states librarians must have permission from administration before kicking a patron out, work in the evening when no one else is around? If the toilet overflows or a fight breaks out between patrons on the weekend, will we be left to improvise because we’ve been left out of discussions about how to handle such matters?
- At Shondaland, Morgan Jerkins interviews iconic black editor and literary agent Marie Dutton Brown about how she helped to change publishing:
When Brown returned to Doubleday in 1972, she was told that "the black thing was over," and that she had to diversify her list with more non-black authors. In her words, "African American history and culture had diminished considerably. It was basically the category [of the books] and not the ethnicity or the racial identity of the authors. Many published African American titles, particularly [in] categories of history, sociology, and education, were being written by white authors. So, it was a matter of acquiring and publishing fewer books about the African American experience... [I wondered:] Were black people not reading anymore? Were black people not writing?"
- A community of writers collaborated with a predictive text bot to write a beautiful new chapter of Harry Potter:
“Death Eaters are on top of the castle!” Ron bleated, quivering. Ron was going to be spiders. He just was. He wasn’t proud of that, but it was going to be hard to not have spiders all over his body after all is said and done.
- At the Los Angeles Review of Books, Joanna Walsh discusses the analytical problem of loving an author:
In 1967, it really was possible to be a “book lover.” What readers loved about books was sometimes the language, the story, but this very seldom occurred without their also loving the characters. To love a character could be, to paraphrase Barthes, a way of putting a limit on love. Characters could also be, after Foucault, the ideological figures by which one marks the manner in which we fear love’s proliferation. This love was accompanied by the anxiety of their knowledge that these people were fake.
- LitHub has assembled the year’s most savage burns from its most scathing book reviews:
This book-shaped object made of cardboard and paper was never going to be a book exactly. It is a gift, something that parents give to their college-bound children as revenge for making themselves difficult to understand.