“‘I can hold my own in the bedroom and the boardroom,’ she said to no one, and to everyone. ‘You should never underestimate me.’ She took off her blonde ponytail and shook her hair loose; there was another blonde ponytail underneath it.” There’s no better time than now to revisit Mallory Ortberg’s classic, unbelievably funny piece “A Day in the Life of an Empowered Female Heroine” from The Toast.
Readers of The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature most likely have a good idea of just how much the late Norman Mailer was a wellspring of jokes about writers. The pugilistic novelist, journalist and failed mayoral candidate did choose to title a collection of his work Advertisements for Myself, after all. Yet as Andrew O’Hagan notes in the LRB, it’s hard not to admire the cojones on a guy who once told a prominent editor he was “still too young and too arrogant to care to write the kind of high-grade horseshit you print in Harper’s Bazaar.”
Sarah Fay, associate editor of The Paris Review, has a piece in The Atlantic on the digitization of book reviewing, framed beautifully by references to George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Confessions of a Book Reviewer.” She praises Bookslut, Nancy Pearl, Goodreads, and The Los Angeles Review of Books for their collective skills of recommendation, reviewing, and New Criticism. I’d add The Quarterly Conversation, The Rumpus, The New Inquiry, The Morning News (for their annual Tournament of Books feature), and of course, The Millions.
Recommended Reading: The selected letters of William S. Burroughs at The Paris Review Daily. Read his correspondences with family and writers Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer. Pair with Jonathan Clarke’s article on why an author’s biography will never be more important than their writing.