The cuddle trumps sodomy! At The New York Times, the controversial post-feminist Katie Roiphe explores the difference between the descriptions of sex in the last generation of American male novelists (Philip Roth, John Updike, Norman Mailer) and the current generation (David Foster Wallace, Benjamin Kunkel, Dave Eggers, Jonathan Safran Foer).
The second round of the Tournament of Literary Sex Writing, the aptly-named Erotic Eight, has kicked off over at The Literary Hub. This round is home to some downright ridiculous pairings (I'm looking at you, "Bram Stoker vs. James Baldwin as judged by Roxane Gay") and the judges are as careful and attentive as ever.
Electric Literature—first established as a cross-platform digital publisher, but best known for its popular "Recommended Reading" tumblog—has just relaunched itself as a literary advocate built around a strong website and social channels. C0-founder Andy Hunter tells the Washington Post, “Posting a cool photo on social media gets a much greater response than text alone, even in our audience of book lovers. While at first that might seem at odds with literary content, we’ve always felt that changes in the way we communicate create opportunities to reach more people.”
"Many times, I’ve found that a book I once held in my hands becomes another when assigned its position in my library." In The Paris Review, an excerpt on the art of packing (and unpacking) a library from Alberto Manguel's upcoming book, Packing My Library: An Elegy and Ten Digressions. Pair with: an essay on reorganizing one's personal library.
There’s a reason Hemingway and Fitzgerald are usually thought of as being opposites on the masculinity spectrum. Hemingway, he of the grand works about boxing and bullfighting, is perhaps the patron saint of literary manhood, while Fitzgerald was often the definition of refinement. Yet their actual identities were a little more complicated than our images of them suggest. At The Paris Review Daily, a look at how they were thought of as “real men” -- or not.
Chances are you’ve heard that in a recent interview, Claire Messud responded to a patronizing question about one of her characters -- “I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you?” -- by giving her interviewer a smackdown that resonated across the blogosphere. At Page-Turner, several authors (including Rivka Galchen, Jonathan Franzen and Year in Reading alumna Margaret Atwood) offer their own takes on the matter of "likeability." (There's also this piece by our own Emily St. John Mandel to consider.)
The CIA was known for unorthodox espionage techniques during the Cold War, but using Doctor Zhivago to undermine the U.S.S.R. is one of the strangest. The CIA helped print and distribute the banned book because it would make Soviets wonder "what is wrong with their government, when a fine literary work by the man acknowledged to be the greatest living Russian writer is not even available in his own country in his own language for his own people to read."