David Satter’s It Was a Long Time Ago and It Never Happened Anyway gets reviewed for The Daily Beast. The book is a “sweeping study of how the former Soviet Union’s bloody past continues to poison Russia’s present and threatens to strangle the country’s future.”
The Atlantic is kicking off its new series, YA for Grown Ups, with an examination of “The Greatest Girl Characters in Young Adult Literature.” Obviously The Hunger Games‘s Katniss Everdeen is up there, but don’t worry, Ramona Quimby makes the list too.
In 1998, not long after publishing his first novel, Dan Brown paid a visit to an English class at Phillips Exeter. Among the students in attendance that day was future New Yorker editor Joshua Rothman, whose fragmented recollection of Brown’s appearance turned into an instructive tale about “memory and its tricks.”
“if I am going to set a novel in a real place, in a real time, I must get all the details right. I should not put a wall around Washington Square, start the Iraq War in 2005, or claim that maple trees bear acorns. This matters because it has to do with keeping faith with your readers. If you get something verifiable wrong, why should they believe you when you really are making things up?” Helen Benedict for Amazon Author Insights on finding the balance between research and imagination when writing fiction. (Full disclosure, Amazon helps us pay the bills around here!)
The word “cool” has been cool for more than 70 years. At Slate, Carl Wilson examines why this slang stuck, and how it’s evolved from being used by beatniks to smartphone companies. “Cool is an attitude that allows detached assessment, but one that prizes an air of knowingness over specific knowledge. I think that’s why it doesn’t become dated, unlike hotter-running expressions of enthusiasm like groovy or rad.” Pair with: Michael Agger’s essay on why we love the “cool story, bro” meme.
How do you write poems about a culture that has been erased from history and one you don’t fit into? Tess Taylor delved into the complications of her Southern family’s past for The Forage House and attempted to excavate the unwritten parts of their history. “The non-writing down of people is intensely violent,” she told The Oxford American in a recent interview. Pair with: Our own Michael Bourne’s essay on the collection and its implications.
At The Guardian, the intriguing case of historian Orlando Figes and his wife’s savage Amazon reviews of her husband’s rivals’ books. The case begs the question: should Amazon allow anonymous reviews?