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Is the literary trend toward passive women progress? Maybe we’ve been misreading

Lynn Steger Strong writes that Rachel Cusk’s Outline trilogy “broke open a new and surprisingly vital form: the novel of passivity.” Strong is happy to see that, for the last decade or so, women’s fiction has been recognized for probing what the novel—“forms built by and for males”—can be:

In particular, novels about a woman thinking, being talked at, are being actively considered. As opposed to the Great Male Novels that centered agency and action, these books are being seen as an expansion of the form, a shaking off of its conventional demands. Often they are built in fragments, structured around failure, absences, passivity and lacks. They defy the novelistic demands for a certain type of resolution; they land in spaces of confusion and of questions, refuse to give clear lines between cause and effect.

Evolution of a Reader

Andi Diehn lovingly describes how her reading—not just the books read, but the process and purpose of reading—has changed from age 10 through college, then through graduate school.

girl reading

I can relate. I left graduate school after completing the coursework, though not the dissertation, for a Ph.D. in literature after realizing that the academic experience did not correspond to my joy in and love of reading literature.

How Sci-Fi Writer H.P. Lovecraft’s Appalling Legacy of Racism Inspired HBO’s Lovecraft Country

HBO’s new series Lovecraft Country is based on Matt Ruff’s novel of the same name. This article takes a look at why Ruff decided to use Lovecraft’s work as the basis for an examination of American bigotry: “the fact that Lovecraft himself was deeply racist and anti-Semitic. And while many long-dead artists espoused beliefs that are abhorrent by 2020 standards, Lovecraft was even a bigot for his own time.”

This short article offers an overview of the writer and his legacy. 

‘We’ve Already Survived an Apocalypse’: Indigenous Writers Are Changing Sci-Fi

“Long underrepresented in genre fiction, Native American and First Nations authors are reshaping its otherworldly (but still often Eurocentric) worlds.”

there has been an explosion of novels, comics, graphic novels and short stories from writers blending sci-fi and fantasy with Native narratives, writing everything from “slipstream” alternate realities to supernatural horror to post-apocalyptic stories about environmental collapse.

Poets and novelists have been writing about life under COVID-19 for more than a century

Rachel Hadas, professor of English at Rutgers University, shares the idea “that good art gives a clear picture of what is happening – even . . . if it hadn’t happened yet when that art was created.”

Here she gives some examples from literature written between 1897 and the middle of the 20th century.

One Twitter Account’s Quest to Proofread The New York Times

“In 2017, the Times dissolved its copy desk, possibly permitting more typos to slip through. Meet the anonymous lawyer who’s correcting the paper of record one untactful tweet at a time.” 

The former English teacher and copy editor in me couldn’t resist this article. I’m often distressed by the glaring errors in punctuation and grammar that I see just about everywhere, not just in The New York Times. But I don’t think I’d have the stamina that the person behind this Twitter account seems to have. 

© 2020 by Mary Daniels Brown