Biographer and novelist Penelope Fitzgerald of the Booker Prized novel Offshore, was born on this day in 1916. Ranked twenty-third on the London Times 2008 list of “Britain’s Fifty Greatest Writers Since WWII,” Fitzgerald didn’t begin her twenty-year writing career until age fifty-eight. Can we say Post-40 Bloomer?
“I wanted to offer my students an alternative to the purely confessional mode. I wanted them to write about themselves without falling into a paralyzingly portentous tone. I wanted more humor in their work, more complexity, more detail, more balance—more good writing. I wanted fewer italicized passages, less use of the breathless present tense. I wanted no more tears in the workshop, no more embarrassing scenes.” Emily Fox Gordon writes about trauma narratives in the classroom, the trouble with writing as therapy, and the key differences between confessing and confiding in an essay for The American Scholar.
Perhaps inspired by the news, first reported a few years ago, that mad scientists in the Indian army plan to weaponize superhot chilis, Lauren Collins ventures bravely into the world of extreme heat. As a warning to readers who fancy themselves tough, she quotes a doctor who makes clear that these peppers aren’t just hot — they’re lethal.