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.)
New this week is Monica Ali’s “what if” novel about Princess Diana, Untold Story. Also out is Bright’s Passage, an effort, which readers appear to be taking seriously, by singer-songwriter Josh Ritter to cross over into literary fiction. Finally, short story master Bobbie Ann Mason has a new novel out, The Girl in the Blue Beret.
Some of Jeff Tweedy‘s favorite writers: “I like Henry Miller a lot. I like William H. Gass a lot. Donald Barthelme, Robert Coover, Kurt Vonnegut. . . . I used to walk into bookstores when I was a kid and get the stuff that looked the craziest and the most free.” (In a Rolling Stone interview, unavailable online.)
J.L. Galache wanted to honor the recently deceased Iain Banks in a way befitting the man’s memory. So of course he named an asteroid after the author. With the help of Dr. Gareth Williams of the Minor Planet Center, Galache successfully lobbied the Committee for Small Body Nomencalture of the International Astronomical Union for Asteroid 5099 to be officially dubbed Iainbanks. (Bonus: John McIntyre honors Banks’s memory by reading through some of his best work.)
The New York Times recently asked Jennifer Szalai and Mohsin Hamid why there isn’t a Great American Novel written by a woman? Both writers concluded that there is no such thing as the Great American Novel. “But if the idea of the Great American Novel is blinding us to exquisite fiction written by women, then perhaps its harm is exceeding its usefulness,” Hamid wrote. We think that’s a bit of a cop out. But a few women showed up on our list of the Greatest American Novels.
Amazon has partnered with the Wylie Agency to acquire exclusive ebook rights to 20th century classics by the likes of Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie, Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, Louise Erdrich, John Cheever, Hunter S. Thompson, William S. Burroughs, Orhan Pamuk, V.S. Naipaul, Martin Amis, and Jorge Luis Borges. The venture is called Odyssey Editions. These books will be available in ebook form exclusively on the Kindle for the next two years.
As if the ebook juggernaut didn’t already have enough steam behind it, The Washington Post says that, “perusing electronically will lighten your environmental impact.” You see, “every time you download and read an electronic book, rather than purchasing a new pile of paper, you’re paying back a little bit of the carbon dioxide and water deficit from the Kindle production process.”