Millions alumna Emily M. Keeler interviewed author David Gilmour for Hazlitt’s Shelf Esteem blog. In the process (and perhaps because he was distracted by “a Frenchman”) the author voiced some opinions on female authors that have been called “ill-informed,” “careless and offensive,” and “staggeringly narrow-minded and parochial.” The ongoing kerfuffle prompted Hazlitt to share the unedited transcript from Keeler’s interview, and it’s clear that Gilmour’s remarks were not taken out of context.
In his column in the Chicago Tribune today, Eric Zorn describes a particularly ugly incident that occurred at a library not far from where I live. Somebody set fire to a number of books at the John Merlo branch of the Chicago Public Library. Making matters worse, it appears as though the arsonist targeted the gay and lesbian books section of the library, which itself is located in a neighborhood with a large gay population. From Zorn’s column: Staffers detected the fire quickly and used an extinguisher to put it out before anyone was hurt. The library remained open, and if you visit there today, the only reminders of the incident are gaps on several shelves where destroyed books used to sit.But the location makes it a bigger event. For both symbolic and safety reasons, the idea of arson in the stacks, no matter how relatively unsuccessful, is chilling. Public libraries are not only embodiments of liberty but, with all that paper, prospective tinderboxes.More chilling still to many is that the unknown arsonist chose to set the fire in the heart of the Chicago area’s largest unified collection of gay and lesbian-oriented books.Zorn explores the topic further at his blog explaining why he decided to devote his column to what was, admittedly, a very minor fire, wondering “Do we not, in some ways, magnify the power of a hate crime when we publicize it?”I’m glad he decided to write the column. Coming on the heels of a book-banning attempt in a nearby school district, it’s been a rough couple of months for books in the Chicago area.Update: It turns out it wasn’t a hate crime. As Eric Zorn explains, they caught the culprit, a 21-year-old homeless woman who set the fire because “she was angry at library staff for being rude to her.”
Valentine’s Day may be all about happy couples, but the most memorable love stories in literature are tales of doom, from Oedipus to Romeo and Juliet to the many dysfunctional partnerships that populate contemporary literature. The Guardian offers a literary lovers’ quiz for the lovelorn.
“The only way to get something new out of language, to try and get to what feels like the nearest simulacrum of truth, is to bend and shape that language, to break it’s form and strain against it, to coax it into a shape, to play with it. To revel in the disorderly.” Madeleine Watts writes about Eimear McBride‘s A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing (which our own Hannah Gersen recently reviewed), the limits of language and the necessity of a “Girl Canon” for The Believer‘s blog.