“[YOU can only speak to what you experienced outside several seconds after your coworker entered the building, but several seconds before YOU yourself reached your cubicle. YOU do not know if it is in fact still raining out. YOU say nothing and are forever plagued by the unknowable nature of the immediate present.]” These short existentialist plays starring you and your coworkers are sure to stir up some feelings of gloom, doom, and familiarity.
We’ve already decided that it’s okay for fictional characters to be unlikable, but what about nonfiction writers? At the VQR blog, Jennifer Niesslein interviews essayists on whether their success is based on how amiable they are. “I think it’s ridiculous to expect to like someone who wrote a book you love, but the increasing visibility of writers on social media—who are expected to be the ambassadors of their books—amps up the pressure to be well-liked,” Cheryl Strayed said.
If you want to read a book with obscenity in it in Russia after July 1, you’ll find it in a sealed package with a warning label. The law is the latest in Vladimir Putin’s censorship crusade and also bans swearing in films and live performance. Interestingly, the banned words are still up for the debate by the Ministry of Culture. At The New Yorker, David Remnick discusses just how unique and diverse the Russian language’s profanity is.
“I’ve learned that people—writers and non-writers alike—don’t like that word. Failure…. I take a bizarre pleasure, now, in using that word. Maybe because during my decade as a failed writer, the one thing that took the edge off was wallowing in that failure—carefully, in a proscribed fashion, like having a drink when you’re still hungover.” Stephanie Feldman writes for Vol. 1 Brooklyn about being a literary failure, about the two books she wrote and never published, and about the one she finally did. Pair with the stories of these 5 writers and their failed “novels in drawers.”
How can science fiction writers invent aliens and entire planets but not include multifaceted characters of color in their fiction? At The Atlantic, Noah Berlatsky discusses the genre’s equality problem and analyzes how race is viewed in everything from The Left Hand of Darkness to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. “When that future unthinkingly reproduces current inequities, it seems like both a missed opportunity and a failure of imagination.”