In Meg Wolitzer’s new YA novel Belzhar, a group of teenagers packed off to an idyllic boarding school learn that they have the ability to undo their most serious traumas. Their discovery is sparked by a writing assignment in a class on Sylvia Plath. At Slate, Jennifer Ray Morell connects Wolitzer’s novel to Plath’s classic The Bell Jar. Related: our own Hannah Gersen’s interview with biographer Elizabeth Winder.
After word got out last week that J.K. Rowling regrets bringing Ron and Hermione together, many people responded with interesting takes on the news. The hubbub missed the full context of Rowling’s quotes, however, as they leaked from an interview in Wonderland magazine that hadn’t yet been released. Now the new issue of the the magazine is out, and the context changes things a bit: Rowling actually said the two “will be alright with a bit of counseling.”
During the Cold War, the CIA became entrenched in cultural life through an organization named, ironically enough, the Congress for Cultural Freedom. In order to fight communism, they funded socialist artists. The Awl has compiled a list of literary journals, including the Kenyon Review and The Paris Review, that were once supported by the CIA.
“Look, if you meet someone with one leg, are you going to sit and revile them for not having the other leg? No, you’re going to be happy that they have the one and praise them for it. And get them thinking about how can we substitute for the one that’s lacking. Which are you going to do?” Robert Thurman quoting the Dalai Lama on embracing the positive in an interview in Guernica, where Thurman speaks about nonviolent resistance, the potential for a demilitarized world, and his friendship with the Dalai Lama.
Kirk Curnutt takes readers on a tour of of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s oft-neglected commercial short fiction. Fitzgerald, after all, “produced 160 short stories [in his life],” writes Curnutt, “earning a total of $241,453 off the genre — more than $3 million in today’s dollars.” Yet the author didn’t think highly of the work, and even referred to himself as an “old whore” because he wouldn’t quit.