“I asked myself – why don’t I state the race of my characters? And am I doing something wrong by not explicitly including a diverse cast of characters? Could I be doing something better? The short answer is yes.” An argument in favor of race bent fanfiction and resisting assumedly white characters from The Missouri Review blog.
On February 17th, the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program will launch a free digital course open to everybody with an internet connection. The course is entitled “Every Atom: Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself,” and registration is now open. The course will “take a collective approach to a close reading of America’s democratic verse epic.”
“I am not at all sure—convinced, certain, persuaded—that creative-writing courses are a good idea unless they prevent people from writing sentences like this one, where adjectives—useful, helpful, intensely descriptive words—are stacked upon one another as Pelion used to be piled upon Ossa.” Alexander McCall Smith on the dangers of overwriting.
“At a time when heated conversations about diversity and cultural appropriation in literature abound, The Loved Ones is a wondrous gift, a pleasant reminder that there are many thoughtful writers who can create believable characters of multiple races, ethnicities, and genders without relying on caricature or stereotypes.” We’re all warm inside from Necessary Fiction‘s lovely review of Millions staff writer Sonya Chung‘s novel, which we featured in our second-half 2016 book preview.
Slate books and culture columnist Laura Miller looks at what this year’s bestseller list tells us about 2017. One of her conclusions, “2017 was the year that the very concept of a best-seller became even more dubious.” After reading her analysis, check out our Year in Reading lists, whose authors found joy in reading and viewed it as one of the few good things of this year, even if the bestsellers of the year didn’t reflect those feelings.
Over the past week, the work of three Millions staffers has been shown off for other publications: Mark O’Connell talks Lethem, Dyer and Batuman for Slate; Emily St. John Mandel talks noir for Beyond the Margins; and Garth Risk Hallberg names his selection for this year’s Pulitzer-less Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Emily Smith discusses the place of zines in contemporary American politics, over at Ploughshares. As she puts it, “Zines, like street art, are allowed critical power through anonymity—a function newsstand periodicals simply can’t perform for the sake of reputation or the sacrifice of advertisers. In this way, zines are small-scale democracies.”