The Ripped Bodice (the only bookstore in the United States dedicated solely to romance books) released a report looking at the state of diversity in 2016 romance novels. Last year there were only 7.8 published romance novels by writers of color for every 100 books from 20 major romance publishing companies. "Of particular concern is the suggestion, as revealed by the study, that publishers are not reflecting their readership base with any kind of parity. According to Pew Research, black women with college degrees are more likely to read a book than any other group. Since romance readers are approximately 84 percent female, this suggests there is a large swath of the population who don’t see themselves represented in authors or protagonists." Entertainment Weekly highlights some major takeaways from the survey, read the rest of the appalling stats and then go support romance writers of color.
Catch it while you can: Charlie Rose's hour-long interview with Pedro Almodóvar and his muse, Penélope Cruz, touches on character, confidence, and control, and is currently available online. Almodóvar's latest film, Broken Embraces, which I saw last summer in Madrid sans subtitles, was so visually stunning and well-acted that despite my meager translation the film enthralled. With a proper translation, it should be ravishing.
"Being nominated for an award feels the way I imagine winning the lottery must feel: You’re deeply grateful and a little disoriented, you feel very lucky, and you know that it could just as easily have been someone else." Our own Emily St. John Mandel writes about "the vast distance between literary prizes and literary work" and reading Norman Mailer for The Atlantic's By Heart series (which we've covered many, many times before).
“‘It’s important to realize how the funniness in these videos [such as those featuring Kai the axe-wielding hitchhiker and Uncle Ruslan] is really close to something that’s desperately unfunny,’ says Mark O’Connell, who wrote Epic Fail: Bad Art, Viral Fame, and the History of the Worst Thing Ever.”
"I Didn't Tell Facebook I'm Engaged, So Why Is It Asking About My Fiancé?" or, FB continues to make people feel a little awkward.
As a young girl in the 1980s, Melissa Carroll played with My Little Pony dolls, in part because, as she puts it, "I knew I'd better have one." Nearly thirty years on, she's fascinated by the new surge of interest in the dolls, especially the interest displayed by the men who call themselves Bronies. At The Rumpus, her Sunday essay on the rise of the Brony and gender dynamics in America.
On a more optimistic note, New Directions, New York City's inestimable and long struggling (but "long dazzling!") publishing house, will be throwing itself a 75th birthday party on Thursday, October 27. (They just redesigned their website and colophon, too.)