Recently, both Batgirl and the Norse god Thor (as conceived by Marvel) have been updated to suit the times. While DC Comics simply gave Batgirl sensible, combat-appropriate clothing, inspiring happy fan art; “female Thor” has met a mix of excitement and bewilderment. Fittingly, a new piece out at Aeon explores our conflicted desire to see male protagonists in fiction — the Harry Potters and Bilbo Baggins’ of the world — reimagined as women. (Also, because no roundup of imaginary characters is complete without fake social media updates, here’s Thor lamenting the loss of his hammer on Facebook.)
“Publishing is a word that, like the book, is almost but not quite a proxy for the ‘business of literature.’ Current accounts of publishing have the industry about as imperiled as the book, and the presumption is that if we lose publishing, we lose good books. Yet what we have right now is a system that produces great literature in spite of itself.” Twenty-first century publishing works in mysterious ways.
At Newsweek, Jeremy McCarter reviews The Cross of Redemption, a new anthology of James Baldwin’s previously uncollected essays and public letters: “At a time when serious people claim we live in a ‘post-racial’ society, the reappearance of Baldwin’s writing—insistent, accusatory, outraged—feels like a terrible family secret coming to light in an Ibsen play, or Banquo’s ghost showing up to spoil the party.”