David Mitchell, when questioned about his language and genre experiments, particularly in Cloud Atlas and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, responds: “It’s a bit like asking a duck billed platypus if it should be considered a mammal or a bird.” The Millions also profiled Mitchell, though we never settled either way on the bird/mammal issue.
The story of how a publishing house began is the definition of literary inside baseball, but this piece by Jonathan Galassi -- in which the FSG president responds to an upcoming book on the heyday of his company -- does a pretty nice job of spurring a general reader’s interest. Among other things, it reveals that First Wife Dorothea Straus once called the company’s office “a sexual sewer.”
Last week, I pointed readers to a speech by the late James Salter, reprinted by The Paris Review Daily in tribute to the writer after his death. For a fan appreciation, you can read Kevin Lincoln in Hazlitt, who leads his piece with the observation that Salter “wrote sentences you could unfold into paper lanterns.” Pair with our own Sonya Chung’s review of Salter’s All That Is.
"I am worried about the implications of throwing the label 'women’s pain' around individual experiences of suffering, and I am even more uncomfortable with women who feel free to speak for all women. I worry about making pain a ticket to gain entry into the women’s club. And I worry that the assumption of vulnerability threatens to invigorate just the sexist evils it aims to combat by demanding that men serve as shields against it." In an essay for the Boston Review, Jessa Crispin shares her concerns about the "wounded women" trend in literature right now, citing Leslie Jamison's The Empathy Exams and Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist as well the Twitter campaign #yesallwomen as particular examples. Pair with Ryan Teitman's Millions review of The Empathy Exams.
It’s been a full week, which means you’ve had to time to digest the half-season finale of AMC’s Mad Men. But before you dive into the works on our Mad Men Reading List while awaiting the premiere of the next half-season, you should take some time to read Phillip Maciak’s incredible recap and analysis of “Waterloo.”