Believe it or not, Fifty Shades of Grey was still the bestselling book of 2015. For a fascinating, in-depth look at what sold and what didn’t, head over to The Guardian. The disconnect between the retail top ten and the myriad year-end lists alone is worth the look.
In her new book, Hard-Core Romance, Eva Illouz has published the first serious, book-length academic analysis of the Fifty Shades of Grey. The critically-panned Fifty Shades trilogy, originally a Twilight fan fiction, has sold 32 million copies in the US so far. At The New Republic, William Giraldi seizes the opportunity for a brutal send-up of author E. L. James and the “dreck” she represents. “At least people are reading,” he writes, “You’ve no doubt heard that before. But we don’t say of the diabetic obese, At least people are eating.” Pair with The Millions’ essay on literary predecessors in published fan fiction.
Books by Friends, a semi-regular feature at The Atlantic, sees writer James Fallows recommend the works of authors he knows. This week, he praises a book on the history of flight, a prediction for the economy and a jeremiad on American politics by Gary Hart. You could also read our own Kevin Hartnett on Fallows and American decline.
If you like leading ladies so blazing they burn a hole in your head, make way to the East Village on Tuesday evening to hear Kate Zambreno and Laurie Weeks read at Dixon Place. Their latest novels, Green Girl and Zipper Mouth, depict intense, edgy women with razor-sharp prose. And befitting both protagonists, there will be an after-party with DJs and projections that will go on till…?
Our own Edan Lepucki sits down with Brad Listi for an Other People Podcast. If for nothing else, listen to them discuss Facebook addiction. Their discussion starts around the eleven minute mark. (P.S. you should also check out both Edan and Brad’s Year in Reading posts.)
It’s high time we acknowledge the mastery of the short story by some really fantastic American women. At LitHub, Bridget Read makes a compelling case for such writers as Lucia Berlin and Jamaica Kincaid as veritable dons of the genre. This piece pairs nicely with a recent Millions essay by Adam Boffa on terseness, Twitter, and Lydia Davis.