In a piece for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Sarah Mesle reviews Mallory Ortberg‘s Texts from Jane Eyre, which “is not only a major work of bathroom humor reading, but also a significant contribution to feminist literary criticism. It is difficult to imagine another book that would both be a perfect stocking stuffer and an exemplary text for a seminar in literary studies.”
"Yes, it’s easy to laugh at the lawyers. But what if the lawyers were right? For the question that still needs to be answered, I think, is whether the arguments over the novel’s obscenity and obscurity were just temporary historical effects or whether they point to the essence of Joyce’s originality." A longform look at why we should still find Ulysses scandalous.
The Atlantic reviews the first full-length biography of Joan Didion, The Last Love Song by Tracy Daugherty, to be released August 25th. The biography “looks at the author’s legacy of cool.” Related: Franklin Strong’s essay on “The Manliness of Joan Didion” in The Millions.
It’s funny and fitting that Madame Proust, in a letter now on display at the Morgan Library, implored her son to share persnickety details about what time he got up in the morning. Another thing the exhibition, which celebrates the hundredth anniversary of Swann's Way, reveals: early drafts of the book used “biscottes” in place of “madeleine.”
Whether or not you’re an avid collector of NYRB Classics like Stoner, you’ll enjoy this profile of series publisher Edwin Frank, conducted by Millions contributor and Oyster Editorial Director Kevin Nguyen. In the profile, Frank delves into the mindset that guides his choices, tying the rise of the American publishing series to the passage of the GI bill. Sample quote: “Someone seeing a book he or she always loved next to a book he or she had never heard about would say, ‘Wait that’s the book I always loved and it’s back in print, maybe I should buy this one too.’”
Have a short story manuscript and you're not sure where to send it? BOMB Magazine's Biennial Fiction Contest, judged by Sheila Heti (who wrote How Should a Person Be? and was interviewed by The Millions here), is accepting submissions until the end of the month.
“Make no mistake: if you run a prize, a “best of” list, a residency, with age guidelines you can’t fully justify then, however otherwise diverse your awardees, you and your organisation are consolidating racism, sexism, class and gender discrimination.” Joanna Walsh for The Guardian arguing that, by focusing on youth, literary awards and honors tend to reward “those most likely to have money, security, contacts, confidence.” See also our Post-40 Bloomers series, including interviews most recently with Lidia Yuknavitch and Cole Lavalais.