Anne Fernald writes about getting deep into her research: “Peering down isn’t enough, however. If you want to find the treasure that lies beneath the surface, you have to dive down into the well.”
“[I]n the world of letters, it is hard to imagine a more seismic change than this one.” The New York Times announces that its longtime book critic Michiko Kakutani is stepping down after nearly four decades of reviews.
The Times also offers a roundup of her greatest hits, including writeups of Beloved, Infinite Jest, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Bill Clinton‘s memoir My Life:
The book, which weighs in at more than 950 pages, is sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull — the sound of one man prattling away, not for the reader, but for himself and some distant recording angel of history.
This announcement was followed by the great news that repeat Year in Reading alumna Parul Sehgal will join Jennifer Senior and Dwight Garner as a Times book critic, leaving her position as senior editor of the NYT Book Review. Congratulations, Parul!
“Nobody there but dirty old men who spit tobacco juice and try to look up your skirt.” The city square is one of the biggest architectural differences between the United States and Europe. Over at The Daily Beast, George Packer takes a look at plazas/piazzas and makes a case for why America needs more.
Anaïs Nin had a lot to say about writing erotic fiction. Notably, she was unwilling to “leave out the poetry” and “concentrate on sex” in its place, despite repeated requests from her anonymous client to do just that. On a lighter note, Seth Fried also has some advice for aspiring writers of erotica. Quick, somebody get both of these articles to E. L. James.
“While men weren’t looking, women built a genre that tackles love, sex, pleasure, class, money, feminism, masculinity, and equality.” Jamie Green writes for Buzzfeed about how romance novels have gotten more feminist over the years (and still getting a happily ever after) and people are now starting to sit up and take notice.