Our own Lydia Kiesling writes for The New Yorker about workplace fiction by women. As she puts it, “If the author is a woman, workplace fiction is also domestic fiction, easily disguised as ‘chick lit,’ ‘girlfriend literature,’ or even ‘erotica.’ Regardless of the packaging, these books provide mapping, contextualizing, and rich illustration of women’s working lives.” For more of her writing, check out her essay on the San Francisco housing market for The Millions.
In the latest issue of The Boston Review, Elaine Scarry reviews Steven Pinker’s
The Better Angels of Our Nature. Pinker argues that literature, by bolstering man’s empathy, has lead to huge reductions in worldwide violence, a thesis that sounds dangerously close to the absurd pop-science of Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal.
“Maurice Sendak drew his partner Eugene after he died, as he had drawn his family members when they were dying. The moment is one he was compelled to capture, pin down, understand, see. Where many— maybe most—people look away, he wanted to render. He was very wrapped up in the goodbye, the flight, the loss; it was almost Victorian, to be so deeply entranced with the moment of death, the instinct to preserve or document it. It’s also the artist’s impulse: to turn something terrible into art, to take something you are terrified of and heartbroken by and make it into something else. For the time it takes to draw what is in front of you, you are not helpless or a bystander or bereft: You are doing your job.” On Maurice Sendak and the art of death.
When a professor of literature wrote Flannery O’Connor for a master key for interpreting her story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” he probably did not expect her particularly unimpressed reply: “Too much interpretation is certainly worse than too little, and where feeling for a story is absent, theory will not supply it.” (Via the ever-excellent Letters of Note.)