Just in time for crawfish season (and ruined outfits as a result of crawfish season), The Oxford American‘s launched its newest column, Parish Chic, brought to you by L. Kasimu Harris. It’s meant to prominently showcase the beaucoup styles on display in New Orleans, Harris’ hometown. You can read about the project’s background and inspiration over at Gambit: The Best of New Orleans.
“The problem is that young children have terrible taste and enjoy garbage. Another problem, which compounds the first problem, is that they want to hear the same books hundreds of times in a row. So for all the joys that storytime can offer, it frequently entails a kind of dismal self-abnegation that’s too excruciating even to describe as tedium—an actively painful sense of my precious time on earth being torn from my chest and tossed into a furnace.” Gabriel Roth writes about the terrible Poky Little Puppy for Slate, and his complaints pair well with Jacob Lambert‘s Millions series, “Are Picture Books Leading Our Children Astray?” and “Again, I Ask…“
Over at Public Books, Jared Gardner explores the theme of pain and illness at the heart of many graphic narratives. As he explains it, “Illness, mental and physical, is arguably comics’ invisible master theme, deeply woven into their genome and shaping the stories they tell, from the earliest newspaper strips (chronic allergies in Winsor McCay’s Little Sammy Sneeze) through the rise of superhero comics (from Batman’s PTSD in 1939 through the Fantastic Four’s radiation poisoning in 1961).” Pair with Paul Morton’s Millions piece on the history of Marvel Comics.
“If we are looking for a single category to explain why women are better represented among best-selling authors today, the Literary/None category is our best candidate. Most best-selling books fall into this category, and its change over time closely matches the overall gender ratio, shifting from extreme bias in the 1980s to close to parity in the 2000s.” Rosie Cima has put together a beautifully thorough and thoughtful analysis of gender, best-seller lists, and publishing for The Pudding. For a more exegetical analysis, consider our own Sonya Chung‘s exploration of writing across gender lines.
…meanwhile, quondam neighbor Jonathan Lethem has packed up for California (to take over the Pomona College position last held by David Foster Wallace). Just in time for Halloween, he raps with New York Magazine about the move…and about his new, book-length treatment of John Carpenter‘s They Live.