“It is the persistent, damning mischaracterisation of Zelda as ‘insane’ that most needs undoing. The trouble lies in the diagnosis she was given in 1930: ‘schizophrenia’. While today we know it to mean severe mental illness requiring delicate and often lifelong treatment with medications, therapies, and sometimes institutionalisation, in Zelda’s time it was a catch-all label for a range of emotional difficulties.” Reexamining the life and reputation of Zelda Fitzgerald.
Don’t Cry author Mary Gaitskill reviews Gillian Flynn’s wildly successful thriller, Gone Girl, for the pages of Bookforum. What she finds is that the book isn’t really frightening because of its plot per se, but rather because its two main characters “do not resemble actual people so much as grotesquely smiling masks driven by forces of extreme artifice, and it’s exactly that extreme artificial quality that’s frightening to the point of sickening.” For what it’s worth, Edan Lepucki, Michael Bourne, Ed Park, Janet Potter, and Jennifer duBois each named Flynn’s book in their most recent Year in Reading pieces.
In 1913, Ambrose Bierce, at the age of seventy-one, rode a horse from California to Mexico, where he planned to cover the ongoing Revolutionary War. At some point, he disappeared and died, though accounts vary as to what exactly killed him. At The Paris Review Daily, Forrest Gander recounts the many deaths of the Devil’s Dictionary author, which include a public burning, death by disease and executions at the hands of Mexican soldiers.