“I never thought of myself as an outsider. Because outside of what? You would have to give advantage to this space where you’re not, to think of it as sovereign because you’re not there. I was always in the center of where I needed to be.” Aleksander Hemon on writing his new book.
“The book documents its time, a time when homosexuality was illegal, and still described in medical books as a mental illness. It is one of the best firsthand accounts of what it was like to be gay in the mid-20th century — ostracized — separate from the mainstream world. It reveals, through its characters, how young men couldn’t admit, even to themselves, that they were what society deemed perverted.” On the novel City of Night by John Rechy.
Leave it to Roxane Gay to come up with a novel format for an essay on the feminist novel. In the new issue of Dissent, she presents eleven theses on the topic, including references to Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying, and Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. Sample quote: “Not every novel that concerns itself with the lives of women is a feminist novel. Fifty Shades of Grey is not a feminist novel.” You could also read our own Edan Lepucki on the problem with feminist anthems.
The book bloggers are all waiting for the announcement of the National Book Award winner, and I, too, have to wonder what will happen once we know the recipient of the award in the fiction category. These women have gotten a lot of grief from folks who think they shouldn’t be there. What I’m wondering is will the NY Times and all the rest end their crusade and graciously accept the winner, or will the winner, whoever she may be, have to bear more criticism on her own. We shall see. In the meantime I have dug up some old links that are, unlike all this NBA stuff, not very timely, but they are good, so I wanted to share them with you:First, take a look at Jonathan Yardley’s fantastic discussion of the American novels that are, to his mind, the best of the last 125 years. He calls it “State of the Art.”The discussion among my fellow book bloggers about the Paris Reviews magnificent decision to put all of their interviews online has got me thinking about the recently departed George Plimpton, which is why I was happy to find this wonderful interview that he conducted with Truman Capote about In Cold BloodFinally, there are two types of people in this world… well, not really, but in this post from earlier this year, Michael at 2Blowhards explains the difference between movie people and book people and a lively discussion follows.Well, that’s enough from the old bookmarks file. Expect more timely news sometime soon.