“What women do in the books mentioned here doesn’t consist of survival so much as sabotage. They throw bricks and rocks and flaming bottles into the chinks of the masculine world machine, then pick up a gun and fire into the turning gears. If rape and other sexual violence, religious servitude, and the politically determined inaccessibility of contraception can be seen as acts of war, stories like these may not just be a means of escapism. In the mind’s eye, they might be weapons, to be picked up, opened, and deployed.” At the Boston Review, Elizabeth Hand looks at women who fight back in fiction, from Gone Girl to Medea.
“Idea #2: Book opens to reveal it is hollow, contains one medium-sized onion. Review: ‘Multilayered… had me in tears.'” How to write a first novel that gets praised in the New York Times.
“I HAVE A FLOWER. OHO. SUDDENLY WE’RE NOT SO SKEPTICAL, ARE WE?” I know it’s 2016 and he’s been dead for almost two hundred years now, but these otherwise inexplicable texts from Samuel Coleridge (by way of Mallory Ortberg at The Toast) are hilarious and totally believable. Some earlier hits include texts from Charles Bukowski and Cormac McCarthy.
Longtime writers know how hard it can be to tell when a piece is finished. Tolstoy famously tried to revise War and Peace right up to the book’s publication. At the Ploughshares blog, Amy Jo Burns offers tips for evaluating a piece before deciding to give it to someone else.
Maria Popova, who recently wrote a Year In Reading post for our series, has teamed up with artist Lisa Congdon on a new project concerning notable women working in art, science and literature. For each week in 2013, The Reconstructionists will present an illustrated portrait of one “trailblazing woman, along with a hand-lettered quote that captures her spirit.” Updates will also feature a “sort micro-essay about her life and legacy.” Up first in the series are Anaïs Nin, Gertrude Stein, Agnes Martin, and Hedy Lamarr.
We recently linked to a new interview with Ian McEwan, whose latest novel The Children Act comes out next week. The LA Times has a full review of the new book, and the piece pairs well with Charles-Adam Foster-Simard‘s review of McEwan’s Sweet Tooth. And of course there’s Atonement, which comes up in a variety of Millions articles, from Michael David Lukas‘s essay on the polyphonic novel to Seth Sawyer‘s recent piece on food and reading.