“Grim was the world and grey last night / The moon and stars were fled.” It looks like even J.R.R. Tolkien might have been a an angsty teen. Two previously unseen poems by the legendary author have been found in a forgotten annual printed by a small primary school in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, in 1936. For another Tolkien-related blast from the past, here is W.H. Auden’s review of The Return of the King, book three of the Lord of the Rings series.
"Think the kennel partner was a man? Think he was, in Braverman’s telling, threatened by her success? You are correct. There are so many stories like this, in Double Bind, of ambition built up and then put in its place: the high school classmate who sneered to Roxane Gay, when he learned that she’d been accepted to Yale when he had not, 'affirmative action.'"
“The book documents its time, a time when homosexuality was illegal, and still described in medical books as a mental illness. It is one of the best firsthand accounts of what it was like to be gay in the mid-20th century — ostracized — separate from the mainstream world. It reveals, through its characters, how young men couldn't admit, even to themselves, that they were what society deemed perverted.” On the novel City of Night by John Rechy.
"To survive, we learned to be great actresses. We cocked our heads just so, we laughed with just the right lilt, we batted our eyelashes and pursed our lips. Sometimes we were innocent, weak and in need of protection; other times we teased and tortured, until our customers raged for release." Beautiful new fiction by Karissa Chen for Catapult.
"Charles Dickens had orphanages and workhouses, the Brontë sisters had the wild moors, and modern writers have high school." So begins L.A. Times television critic Mary McNamara's take on The Vampire Diaries, the CW's answer to Twilight (premiering tonight at 8). The show is loosely based on L.J. Smith's books of the same name and McNamara gives it a qualified thumbs up. She concludes that this latest addition to the vampire canon is "pure froth, but it is very welcome froth, especially in a genre that seems sometimes in danger of taking itself a little too seriously."
"I am worried about the implications of throwing the label 'women’s pain' around individual experiences of suffering, and I am even more uncomfortable with women who feel free to speak for all women. I worry about making pain a ticket to gain entry into the women’s club. And I worry that the assumption of vulnerability threatens to invigorate just the sexist evils it aims to combat by demanding that men serve as shields against it." In an essay for the Boston Review, Jessa Crispin shares her concerns about the "wounded women" trend in literature right now, citing Leslie Jamison's The Empathy Exams and Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist as well the Twitter campaign #yesallwomen as particular examples. Pair with Ryan Teitman's Millions review of The Empathy Exams.