In spite of the title of her blog post, Lily Meyer doesn’t think Ann Patchett is really an enemy of Zadie Smith. Instead, she thinks the two authors play opposing roles in her life, thanks largely to the different effects their books have on her perceptions. At the Ploughshares blog, she contrasts their novels, using excerpts from White Teeth and Bel Canto. Related: Kevin Charles Redmon’s review of Patchett’s novel State of Wonder.
One of the more common questions that comes up in The Nervous Breakdown’s self-interviews is what the subjects consider to be the hardest part of the writing life. The most recent edition sees Jac Jemc, whose latest came out last week, admit that time is what foils her: “Everything takes longer than I think it will, more drafts than I think it will.” This might be a good time to look back on some earlier examples of the form.
“What women do in the books mentioned here doesn’t consist of survival so much as sabotage. They throw bricks and rocks and flaming bottles into the chinks of the masculine world machine, then pick up a gun and fire into the turning gears. If rape and other sexual violence, religious servitude, and the politically determined inaccessibility of contraception can be seen as acts of war, stories like these may not just be a means of escapism. In the mind’s eye, they might be weapons, to be picked up, opened, and deployed.” At the Boston Review, Elizabeth Hand looks at women who fight back in fiction, from Gone Girl to Medea.
The Oxford University Press blog has a never-before-published poem by Dorothy Wordsworth. She constructed the piece in 1839 while suffering from arteriosclerosis and dementia because “there was a therapeutic dimension both in creating and ‘performing’ poetry,” writes Lucy Newlyn.
If you’ve finished winding your way through Elise Liu’s recommended New Yorker articles – which, as of this week, are free to be read online – you can start working your way through Longform’s roundup of their 25 favorite unlocked pieces. (Or you can go even bigger, thanks to The Awl.)