Matthew Salesses talks about moral fiction and how to address prejudice in writing at Electric Lit. A piece of his essay: “The writing of fiction cannot treat marginalized characters as vessels, cannot let the plot play out the racism of under-enlightened protagonists. Perhaps the ultimate conclusion is that one cannot write without prejudice unless one understands that one has prejudice.” Pair with his recent essay at The Millions on plot and the inciting incident.
The New York Times recently asked Jennifer Szalai and Mohsin Hamid why there isn’t a Great American Novel written by a woman? Both writers concluded that there is no such thing as the Great American Novel. “But if the idea of the Great American Novel is blinding us to exquisite fiction written by women, then perhaps its harm is exceeding its usefulness,” Hamid wrote. We think that’s a bit of a cop out. But a few women showed up on our list of the Greatest American Novels.
Every year, like clockwork, a few brave administrators ban a classic book in time for the opprobrium of Banned Books Week. This year, the brave administrators in question work in Randolph County, NC, where Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison will no longer be on the curriculum. Why? Real quote: it’s a “hard read.” (Related: Kelsey McKinney on banning The Bluest Eye.)
Sick of getting corrected for tiny grammatical mistakes? Turns out you may not be a forgetful person after all. According to a cognitive psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, our brains have a tendency to fall into bad grammatical habits, even when we know the rules we’re trying to follow. In The Washington Post, Andrew Heisel investigates. You could also read Fiona Maazel on the specter of commercial grammar.
Max Linsky interviewed Riddle of the Labyrinth author Margalit Fox about the other career she’s had for eight years: obituary writing. Fox remarks on how obituaries have grown from being “the bastard stepchild of American journalism” into “the best gig” in the entire industry. Here’s one of my favorite Fox obituaries, by the way.
“The right candidate will be a big idea thinker, meaning that they have the capacity to understand the huge idea that White Walkers are coming for us, all of us, and someone’s got to do some shit about it. If you love telling brand stories through digital mediums, can think very conceptually about social media, and love working alongside hardened criminals wearing identical black cloaks, then this might be the perfect step in beginning your career.” Good news! The Night’s Watch is looking for a social media intern.