When you’re trying to keep up with the best new writers out there, it’s easy to forget the debt we owe to the classics. So let’s go back to the beginning: Why Homer Matters, a new book by Adam Nicholson on the father of all poets, explores the question of who Homer was, and whether or not he was even one person. You could also read Frank Kovarik on the parallels between The Odyssey and Toni Morrison’s Beloved.
Some writers find their voices by heading off to Europe. Others (like Thoreau in Walden) head off to the woods instead. At The Rumpus, David Biespiel writes about the year he moved to Vermont, and what it meant to see himself as "leaning into" his youth. Pair with our own Anne K. Yoder on Ken Kesey and the Oregon coast.
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.)
To kick off 2010, we at The Millions are thrilled to announce that Emily St. John Mandel has joined us as a regular contributor. Emily lives in Brooklyn. Her first novel, Last Night In Montreal, was recently published by Unbridled Books; her second novel, The Singer's Gun, will be published by the same press in May 2010. Her pieces for The Millions are collected here. Welcome Emily!
Sure, the various TV recaps, screencaps, and Paris Review fan fiction will be a help, but let's be honest, how long will those last? You could get through all of it today, in a binge. What you need, my friend, is a good book to sate that Mad Men craving you'll be having now that it's off the air again. Well, here's a list of 10 great ones. That should do it. Oh, yes.