‘The 4½-foot tall poststructuralist philosopher I live with demonstrates a radical mode of viewership daily. Because of her, and with her, I am able—by moments—to move out of my own natural larval state and experience movies not just as deliverers of entertainment, conveyors of meaning, or objects of aesthetic contemplation, but as pure fields of emotional and sensory intensity, almost like rooms to which one can return.” Dana Stevens on watching movies with, and like, a child.
The second time Eudora Welty met William Faulkner, the latter brought the former out on a ride in his boat. She wrote a letter to Jean Stafford in 1949 that described the experience in entertaining detail. At The Paris Review Daily, you can read the letter in full. Pair with: James McWilliams on Faulkner’s novel The Reivers.
In exciting micro library news, Book Riot reports that the 50,000-th Little Free Library was "planted" on November 4th, doubling the number of Little Libraries in the U.S. a year and a half ago. We're all in agreement that big libraries are more vital than ever, though, right?
I've written before about Matthew Jockers's claim, as reported and presented by the Paris Review, that there are only about 6 plots in fiction. Now Dan Piepenbring returns to the Review to respond to critics who and attempt to answer the questions "is it really possible to assign every word a reliable emotional valence? And even if the answer is yes, can we really claim that all the plots in the history of literature take so few basic forms?"
The Rake takes note of the New Yorker's particularly dark reading of Goodnight Moon.Iain Hollingshead gamely responds to being awarded the "Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award" for his debut novel Twentysomething, which included such turns of phrase as "everything is pure white as we're lost in a commotion of grunts and squeaks."With a few celebs getting in trouble for racist outbursts this year Malcolm Gladwell (ever thoughtful) comes up with a way to figure out who's really being offensive and who's just dumb.Maud points to a new blog from one of my favorite publishers, NYRB Press.Dozens of year end-lists floating around here and elsewhere, but I always take special note of Jonathan Yardley's year-end column because it is always thoughtful and sometimes surprising.To do (as soon as I have the time): listen to the Bat Segundo Show that features Edward P. Jones.
It’s not a commonly held opinion, but Hilary Mantel thinks Henry VIII was a romantic. In a brief interview with Jamie Sharpe, the Wolf Hall author dispels the common view of the oft-married king as a philanderer. “He thought that he had to shape his life and shape his kingdom for each woman,” she says. “Men didn’t think that way in those days.” You could also read Damian Barr’s interview with her at The Millions.
With news of this year’s winner fresh off the press, it’s easy to see how the Literary Review’s “Bad Sex Awards” are an annual delight to many readers (as well as an annual horror to several authors). But are they also counter-productive? As one former “winner” of the award asks, is the Bad Sex Award “anything more than a sort of moral outrage dressed up as a quest for high standards in writing?”