Good news! According to Vinson Cunningham’s new essay in The New Yorker, beauty merely “masks and perfumes … it freezes moral categories in place,” whereas ugliness, on the other hand, “is sometimes the closest thing to the truth.” Wait, is that good news? Bonus: Vinson wrote a Year in Reading piece for us.
“Our culture claims to celebrate vigor and well-being, yet holds up steroid-addled men and impossibly thin women as models of physical perfection. Those of us unwilling to juice or starve ourselves are left feeling inadequate and confused about why we do not bear any resemblance to the humans we are meant to emulate.” Michael Ian Black reviews two books about the male physique — and reveals a bit about the unrealistic nature of our cultural expectations.
Even though William Faulkner once described Hollywood as the “plastic asshole of the world,” he spent two decades writing screenplays there. At Garden & Gun, John Meroney examines Faulkner’s film career, including writing for Howard Hawks and having an affair with his secretary. Pair with: Our essay on Cormac McCarthy’s attempt at screenwriting.
“The specter of the confessional haunts all first-person writing, and women’s writing in particular,” but perhaps “the instinct to insert [the self] comes from a place of saying, ‘I’m not an expert, I’m just a person; let me show you where I’m situated here in this thing I’m telling you about.'” Our own Lydia Kiesling writes about Meghan Daum, Lena Dunham, Leslie Jamison and the confessional impulse in nonfiction for Salon.
“Perhaps no part of the First Novel Experience is as confusing and overwhelming as figuring out how to balance the demands of social media with the demands of writing more fiction.” Martha Woodroof talks with Lydia Netzer about social media in the world of publishing and book promotion. Their advice? “Try to be funny as much as you can. Try to participate in conversations, not just start your own. Try to engage, not just talk.”