Gal Beckerman, an editor at the New York Times Book Review, talks with Lynn Novick and Ken Burns about their three-part series on Hemingway currently airing on PBS. The documentary filmmakers were drawn to Hemingway because of his complex status as both an influence on generations of writers and an example of toxic masculinity.
“It’s easier to find meaning in fiction than in the senseless mass killings of our reality, which seem to render the critical perspective pointless, even silly, at times.”
Maya Phillips, a critic for the New York Times, writes that she finds comfort in critiquing artistic presentations: “Even in the bleakest stories, there’s order and logic, perhaps even justice, if not in the realm of the story itself then at least in the artist’s imagination.” But with the recent spate of mass shootings, “it has felt pointless, even silly, to analyze fictional stories when real people are dying.”
“My critical faculty fails me now, as I contemplate the real world,” Phillips writes.
“Melissa Febos was struggling to write a book about surviving American girlhood. Mystery fiction presented a solution.”
Melissa Febos details the problem she had while writing her recently published essay collection, Girlhood:
The premise of my book, which detailed the devastating and ordinary harms done to girls in this country and aspired to answer them with strategies of undoing that harm, had become an unsolvable mystery. I knew who the perpetrator was, but not how to stop or outpace him.
To solve her problem and power through the writing of her book, she read through lots of mysteries. She provides the list here: Febos’s Mysteries for Feminists with High Standards. “These books . . . gave me the same pleasure that Nancy Drew had, but with the added satisfactions of good writing, queer and Black characters, and layers of smartly delivered cultural critique.”
On Wednesday [April 7, 2021], the Women’s Prize Trust reaffirmed its choice to longlist the novel “Detransition, Baby” by author Torrey Peters, who is trans, for the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction, a day after the Wild Woman Writing Club published an open letter denouncing the nomination.
The opening paragraph of this article, quoted above, contains a link to the letter of denunciation. Read more about the controversy here. There’s also a link to a review of Detransition, Baby in the Los Angeles Times.
What a list! Find your next mystery read in the examples given here of all the following subgenres:
- domestic thrillers
- media mysteries
- legal thrillers
- crime procedurals
- contemporary cozies
- cold cases
- psychological thrillers
- new noir
“For As Long As There Have Been Printed Books, There Has Been Marginalia”
Ah, the history of marginalia, or “things in the margin.”
“Annotation was both ubiquitous and habitual by the 1500s, not long after the invention of the printing press and growth of print culture,” write Remi H. Kalir and Antero Garcia in this excerpt from their new book, Annotation.
© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown