Recommended Reading: Over at Electric Literature, Lori Huth writes about Jeanette Winterson and contemporary war metaphor: “I wanted to feel powerful emotions commensurate with the horror of the story behind the images. I wanted to feel bewildered, and to lament, but instead I felt numb.”
We've all read some version of this story before. In the newest iteration of Listicles for People Just Like You over at McSweeney's, Rufi Thrope helpfully provides Ten Signs Your Name is James and You Are Teaching English at a Fancy Boarding School.
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.
Koa Beck’s father gave her a copy of Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying when she was 15 years old. Depending on your persuasion, this was either a brilliant idea or an awful parental blunder. Regardless, Beck says the book (aided by The Bell Jar and Diary of a Mad Housewife) helped her understand that “the game was rigged, that everyone was lying, [and] that there was so much more to being a woman than what society said there was.”
Buying a hawk isn't the most common grief-coping mechanism, but it worked for Helen Macdonald, who purchased a predatory bird not long after her father passed away. Her new book, H is for Hawk, deals with the experience, in addition to being a falconry manual of sorts. At The Globe and Mail, an interview with the author.
"If Nietzsche was right that we need our illusions, I’ll go one further and posit that we need our illusionists: to disprove our eyes, investigate our dreams, and sometimes charm the money from our pockets." Here's a fantastic essay from The Rumpus on psychics, love spells, and easy exits.