“Legal writing, save for the prose of a precious few lawyers and judges, has rarely contributed to the literary enterprise. Yet there are times when legal proceedings have helped the public at large to reconsider the experience of reading in commercial, emotional, and intellectual terms.” Ian Crouch on the odd experience of reading the statements of Lance Armstrong.
Mary Ruefle, author of the forthcoming Madness, Rack, and Honey, wrote a poetic essay on the subject of fear. It’s chock full of lines like this one about why she likes the word dread more than the word fear: “because fear, like the unconscious emotion which is one of its forms, has only the word ear inside of it, telling an animal to listen, while dread has the word read inside of it, telling us to read carefully and find the dead, who are also there.”
“I am going to propose: The rigmarole is truly underexploited. Everyone should write a ‘Conversations with Drummond’ about themselves and about every opinion-spouting person they know. For the historical record. For revenge. For the children. Especially if you’re well-known, or right in the middle of the action, or both.” Anthony Madrid for The Paris Review looks at Ben Jonson, William Drummond, and the rigamarole.
“The problem, however, lies in the fact that, whenever these labels are internalized by those in positions of power, they flatten a writer’s experiences. They shrink someone to just a sliver of his or her identity.” On the limited opportunities for writers of color.
Not caught up on the emerging Hermione/Ron scandal? Here’s a recap: a few days ago, J.K. Rowling not only said in an interview conducted by Emma Watson that she regretted pairing up Harry Potter’s best friends, she also said that Harry and Hermione should have ended up together. “[Pairing Hermione and Ron] was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility,” she said. “Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.” (This might be a good time to revisit Michelle Dean on the series.)
“When it comes to the personal essay, we want so much and there is something cannibalistic about our desire. We want essayists to splay themselves bare. We want to see how much they are willing to bleed for us. This desire introduces an interesting tension for essay writers. How much should they bleed, and how much blood should they save for themselves?” Roxane Gay reviews Meghan Daum‘s The Unspeakable and reflects on the personal essay for The New York Times Book Review. Pair with our own Hannah Gersen‘s Millions review of the same book.