“The day is spent for the most part in a glorious solitude. Like the hunter who moves silently through the woods to check his traps, she moves through the library, cautiously avoiding those whom she knows. A single conversation would ruin the beauty and vastness of her silence. Today no such conversation occurs and she is happy.” Good luck not reading this narration of a graduate student’s life in the voice of director Werner Herzog, now. Here’s a great Herzog Millions piece, as well.
Does a writer need a devoted spouse to be prolific? At The Atlantic, Koa Beck examines the concept of having a do-it-all partner like Vera Nabokov and if this traditional gender role only harms female writers. Koa interviews various writers, from Emma Straub to Ayelet Waldman, on how their literary partnerships work. “I’d fantasized that being his Vera was a way for me to deal with being stuck as a stay-at-home mom—I’d subsume my own ambitions into something ‘greater!’ But that lasted about 48 hours,” Waldman said.
The Atlantic discusses the link between science fiction and colonialism. “The fact that colonialism is so central to science-fiction, and that science-fiction is so central to our own pop culture, suggests that the colonial experience remains more tightly bound up with our political life and public culture than we sometimes like to think.”
“A book critic working today must contend with a world in which more diverse voices are heard and the traditional gatekeepers have less power to enforce conformity.” LitHub interviewed Kate Tuttle, the president of the National Book Critics Circle, about literary criticism. Read our own Emily St. John Mandel on bad reviews.
In an excerpt of Out of Time, a new book on “the pleasures and perils of ageing,” author Lynne Segal makes a case that many iconic male writers — among them Philip Roth, John Updike and Martin Amis — display in their works a belief that the slow loss of virility is one of the most tragic effects of growing older for men. Citing passages from Toward the End of Time and Portnoy’s Complaint, she finds evidence that these writers’ depictions of masculinity reveal “obdurate social hierarchies of gender and ageing.” (Related: Keith Meatto on advice you can glean from Philip Roth’s work.)
For 50 years, The New York Review of Books has written some of the best headlines in the business. Matthew Howard rounds up every headline. Our favorites include: “Don’t Sing Your Crap,” “How Unpleasant to Meet Mr. Baudelaire!“, “Welcome to New Dork,” “It’s Your Fault, Henry James,” and “Portrait of the Artist as a Paradox.”