Caleb Crain has strong reservations about the New York Public Library’s proposed $350 million remodel, or, in his view, the library’s shift away from “its research mission.” To put his concerns bluntly, he asks, “What problem is the Central Library Plan (CLP) meant to solve?” He then vividly enumerates the problems with the proposal. For those of you wondering what can be accomplished with an essay, there’s this: Mr. Crain’s got him landed on one of the project’s advisory panels as a result.
“I always had the sneaking and sinking suspicion that there would have been no place for me … there were no Scarlett O’Haras in the Beat world. There were women, certainly, but they felt like cardboard cut-outs, something to move around, admire, shift gently out of the way when necessary. In fact, the only women Kerouac and Ginsberg seemed to genuinely respect were their mothers.” Lynette Lounsbury at The Guardian on falling in love with the Beat generation, which may or may not have loved her back.
“That’s always been part of my goal — to show the dark side of women. Men write about bad men all the time, and they’re called antiheroes. … What I read and what I go to the movies for is not to find a best friend, not to find inspirations, not necessarily for a hero’s journey. It’s to be involved with characters that are maybe incredibly different from me, that may be incredibly bad but that feel authentic.” Gillian Flynn and Cheryl Strayed talk with The New York Times about the adaptations for Gone Girl, Wild, and writing credible characters. Their conversation pairs well with our own Edan Lepucki‘s essay on likability in fiction.
“0.5 hrs: Read this week’s New Yorker fiction. 0.7 hrs: Hated on New Yorker writer with her derivative characters & mise-en-scenes. 0.1 hrs: Looked up ‘mise-en-scene’ on Wikipedia. 1.3 hrs: Phone call with writer friend; discussed how much New Yorker fiction sucks. 0.5 hrs: Drafted & emailed query letter to New Yorker (for super postmodern story).” The good people at McSweeney’s imagine an impossibly tedious world where writers and poets bill by the hour.
“When the corrective to women’s exclusion from history is to find a few suitable individuals to pluck out of the messy rush of life and achievement, and hold up for admiration, we forget that many of women’s most important historical achievements…have been the product of collaboration, community, and collective action.” For Slate, Joanna Scutts writes about recent spate of historical books about rebellious, misbehaved women, and who is left out of those stories. From our archives: a list of vile women in fiction.
Water coolers across the nation were abuzz this week with news of the James Cameron-backed and billionaire-led initiative to begin mining resources from the asteroid belt. It’s the stuff of science fiction, and it may seem hard to believe, but the company’s actually already begun hiring prospective space miners!
There is good news for those of us whose dreams of artistic superstardom don’t seem to be panning out — a job listing from McSweeney’s seeking failed artists for an associate position. “We would hate for you to be pretentious,” the listing states, “but if you don’t regularly call other people pretentious — this might not be the job for you.”
Recommended (and timely!) reading: Christy Wampole on why “You Will Never Be Able to Thank Your Mother Enough.”