Breaking Up with God author Sarah Sentilles responds to some of her memoir’s critics. “Reviewers’ words about my book,” she writes, “demonstrate how sexism shapes responses to women’s writing, in particular women’s writing about God.”
Writing a novel is an all-consuming project, so can you imagine not telling anyone? At The New York Times, Alice Mattison discusses keeping her novels secrets until at least the third draft. “If I talk about the book, I believe — I cannot help believing — my characters will be angry, and will no longer confide in me about their embarrassing, troubled lives.” On another side of the secrecy spectrum, Emma Straub writes about what it’s like to keep a personal secret even as her literary life was booming.
Do you ever find yourself skimming novels looking for exciting words and hyperlinks? You aren’t the only one mixing up the digital and print reading worlds. Neuroscientists believe we are developing new brain circuits for skimming online information that are rewiring how we’ve approached reading for centuries. Pair with: Our essay on how writing is also changing to fit our fragmented attention span.
Short on insult fodder? In that case you’ll want to read Colin Burrow’s review of Melissa Mohr’s Holy Shit: A Brief History of Swearing. It includes such notables as: “slapsauce fellows, slabberdegullion druggels, lubbardly lowts … slutch calf-lollies, grouthead gnat-snappers, lob-dotterels, gaping changelings, [and] codshead loobies.” In the end, “swearing is one of the most basic human acts,” he writes.
There’s a scandal gaining traction in the UK, and it involves sending books through the mail. The country’s justice secretary, Chris Grayling, is standing by a new law that bans inmates from receiving parcels of books. According to him, the law is intended to make inmates “earn [their] privileges.” (h/t Page-Turner)
Attn Twitterers: Some folks have been following me @cmaxmagee, but starting today we’ll be using @The_Millions for the occasional books- and Millions-related “tweet.” If you are the twittering type, throw a “follow” our way (and spread the word). (Thanks to my brother Phil for securing and holding onto @The_Millions until I finally got around to using it.)