When Hanna Rosin published The End of Men this year, the book stirred up a lot of controversy (and a number of parodies, to boot). Now Stephanie Coontz, a historian, takes issue with Rosin’s premise — the “myth of male decline” — in the pages of The New York Times Book Review.
“There has been a growth in the literary depiction of a particular type of friendship, one that has in the past found itself vulnerable to dilution and deflection by the ostensibly more powerful imperatives of heterosexuality and motherhood.” On literary female friendships, from Virginia Woolf to Elena Ferrante and Year in Reading alumna Zadie Smith.
As part of their ongoing effort to steer folks away from bad journalism, the folks at The Morning News are running a series on reading news wisely. This week, Brendan Fitzgerald takes a look at misleading headlines, urging readers to “let headlines pique your curiosity, but be sure journalists deliver.”
Over the course of a half-century, Vladimir Nabokov wrote hundreds of letters to his wife Vera, which are being published in book form this week for the first time. Among other things, they reveal the absurd pet names he invented for her (such as Goosykins and Monkeykins) and display Nabokov musing over whether or not to borrow a friend’s castle for the summer. Also worth reading: our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.
Having kicked off his career with a book of poetry, it’s not surprising that Ben Lerner is interested in the late Johns Hopkins professor Allen Grossman, who theorized that people dislike poetry because poems are — by definition — failures. In a piece for the LRB, he runs through the implications of Grossman’s theory, touching on poets as disparate as Shakespeare and William McGonagall. Pair with Kate Angus on why Americans don’t buy poetry books.