Does a writer need a devoted spouse to be prolific? At The Atlantic, Koa Beck examines the concept of having a do-it-all partner like Vera Nabokov and if this traditional gender role only harms female writers. Koa interviews various writers, from Emma Straub to Ayelet Waldman, on how their literary partnerships work. “I’d fantasized that being his Vera was a way for me to deal with being stuck as a stay-at-home mom—I’d subsume my own ambitions into something ‘greater!’ But that lasted about 48 hours,” Waldman said.
“He sat on a shelf of our one-roomed apartment for a while, and then one day when I was sitting in front of my typewriter staring at a blank sheet of paper wondering what to write, I idly tapped out the words ‘Mr. and Mrs. Brown first met Paddington on a railway platform. In fact, that was how he came to have such an unusual name for a bear, for Paddington was the name of the station.’ It was a simple act, and in terms of deathless prose, not exactly earth shattering, but it was to change my life considerably. … Without intending it, I had become a children’s author.” Michael Bond, creator of the Paddington Bear series, has died at 91, reports NPR. We’d like to think that Bond might have appreciated our own Jacob Lambert‘s series, “Are Picture Books Leading Children Astray?” – in particular this entry questioning the moral fiber of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.
Today in book-related graphics: The Arts Shelf has created an infographic measuring famous literature by word count, and The New York Times provides a handy, illustrated guide to any writers’ retreat, complete with authors’ cloisters and an “emergency idea generator.”
The brand new Library of Birmingham opens next week, and the gigantic structure is said to be “Europe’s largest public library.” In addition to its modern architecture, the facility also offers “a room from the 19th Century … to house one of the UK’s most important Shakespeare collections.”
With news of this year’s winner fresh off the press, it’s easy to see how the Literary Review’s “Bad Sex Awards” are an annual delight to many readers (as well as an annual horror to several authors). But are they also counter-productive? As one former “winner” of the award asks, is the Bad Sex Award “anything more than a sort of moral outrage dressed up as a quest for high standards in writing?”