The New York Review of Books posts a vintage essay by Joan Didion on the films of Woody Allen: “This notion of oneself as a kind of continuing career—something to work at, work on, ‘make an effort’ for and subject to an hour a day of emotional Nautilus training, all in the interests not of attaining grace but of improving one’s ‘relationships’—is fairly recent in the world, at least in the world not inhabited entirely by adolescents. In fact the paradigm for the action in these recent Woody Allen movies is high school.”
“Presenting female writers as sexualized and frivolous diminishes their intellectual credentials, tarnishes their work as slight, not to be taken seriously.” The cover of the U.K. edition of The Letters of Sylvia Plath, a new collection of unpublished correspondence by the late author, features her in a bikini because, sexism. Pair with “Sexy Backs and Headless Women: A Book Cover Manifesto.”
Literary fame is a knotty thing. It’s hard to predict exactly who will be known for centuries, and why. William Wordsworth, for example, owes at least part of his fame to the Lake District, which started to use him in their tourist campaigns not long after his death. In The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman takes a look at H.J. Jackson’s Those Who Write for Immortality. Related: Gina Fattore’s recent essay on fame and money.
Two of my favorite writing contests are wrapping up this October. You have until the first of the month to enter the Missouri Review’s Editors’ Prize Contest. $5,000 will be awarded to the best fiction, essay, and poetry. Meanwhile, you have until October 31st to enter DIAGRAM’s Essay Contest, which is open to all types of essays such as those “in an expansive sense, meaning essay as experiment, essay as heterogenous and sometimes strange or unruly beast.” That contest’s prize is $1,000 plus publication.