In an article for Vanity Fair, Meredith Turtis argues that “perhaps fiction… can change the place women have in history,” by giving forgotten figures new lives as characters with fascinating stories to tell. She cites Paula McClain‘s just-released Circling the Sun, about a trailblazing female aviator, and Megan Mayhew Bergman‘s Almost Famous Women, which could have been included based on the title alone. Her argument pairs well with our own Hannah Gersen‘s review of Jami Attenberg‘s Saint Mazie, a novel that fictionalizes the life and voice of a very real “Bowery celebrity.”
“There’s no doubt that Life A User’s Manual takes an approach to depicting reality that is very different from the standard realist novel, which we have been conditioned to believe is the best and most-preferred way of representing our world…Though not without its enlightening aspects, this conversation has generally fallen into a simplistic dichotomy, where realist writing is described as giving us the real world of everyday life, and anything other than realist writing is seen as directing its energies toward a vague something that no one cares to define very well.” A look at Oulipo and its legacy from Lauren Elkin and Scott Esposito, who recently wrote an Oulipo-themed Year in Reading for us.
When did romance novels get such a bad rep? They weren’t always derided as somehow lesser than other books. At Jezebel, Kelly Faircloth delves into the history of the modern romance novel, exploring how particular stereotypes latched on to the popular genre. You could also read Julia Fierro on sex and the literary writer.
“It’s corrosive going down, you wonder if he had to add quite so much vinegar and horseradish, but afterward the effect is invigorating.” Aaron Thier at The Nation reviews Rafael Chirbes’ newest novel, On The Edge. The book admittedly gives no pleasure, yet is nonetheless worth reading as it operates like more of a “psychological health tonic,” instead.