Slate offers up a treatise on “the greatness of gin.” (via my friend Derek, who wrote: “for your book blog; there is too little booze on it”)
The January issue of Asymptote is out, featuring an excellent interview with Year in Reading alumnus Junot Díaz about language acquisition and diasporic identity. As he puts it, “I live a life where both English and Spanish are in italics in my brain. It costs me no extra effort; it doesn’t feel unusual; it doesn’t feel like an infirmity, but it does strike me every now and then that there are people who don’t pick over their language the way I do, who aren’t so self-conscious of what they’re saying, who have a natural tongue." Pair with Thea Lim’s Millions essay on race and gender in Díaz’s books.
"That’s always been part of my goal — to show the dark side of women. Men write about bad men all the time, and they’re called antiheroes. ... What I read and what I go to the movies for is not to find a best friend, not to find inspirations, not necessarily for a hero’s journey. It’s to be involved with characters that are maybe incredibly different from me, that may be incredibly bad but that feel authentic." Gillian Flynn and Cheryl Strayed talk with The New York Times about the adaptations for Gone Girl, Wild, and writing credible characters. Their conversation pairs well with our own Edan Lepucki's essay on likability in fiction.
As part of their Literary Ladies Cage Fight series, The Butter pitted two of Shakespeare’s most well-known characters against each other, staging contests between Hamlet’s Ophelia and Romeo and Juliet’s Juliet. Who won, you ask? Only one way to find out. You could also read Stefanie Peters on women and Shakespeare’s plays.
Here's a piece of news you likely didn't see coming: David Duchovny has published a novel. Titled Holy Cow, it deals, in the words of interviewer Taffy Brodesser-Akner, with "a traumatized cow, a sassy turkey and a pig converting to Judaism." She talks with the X-Files star in this week's Times Magazine.
"Today I ate my shame, regurgitated it as a self-disgust, and digested it again as indolence. Known in the physical world as udon noodles with shrimp tempura," Teddy Wayne told VICE. He and other writers (including our own Emily St. John Mandel) were profiled on what they eat for lunch. On the side: famous writers' favorite snacks (Lord Byron liked to drink vinegar.)
“None of us made love, we had only reproaches for one another. I hated that dependency and yet I couldn’t live without it.” This short piece by Mercè Rodoreda from the new issue of Harper’s Magazine is brutal and surprising. The piece is an excerpt from Rodoreda’s War, So Much War, out later this month.