“The things I do not want to write about become the things I write about.” Year in Reading alumnus Eimear McBride talks to The Guardian on the occasion of her second novel’s arrival. The Lesser Bohemians follows upon her hugely successful debut, A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing, which we reviewed back when it came out in the U.S.
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.”
Historians N. D. B. Connolly and Keisha N. Blain have done us all a serious solid by assembling a syllabus of readings around “what many simply call ‘Trumpism’: personal and political gain marred by intolerance, derived from wealth, and rooted in the history of segregation, sexism, and exploitation.” The self-directed course contains readings from more than 100 scholars – including Audre Lorde, Aziz Ansari, and Ta-Nehisi Coates – and aims to “introduce observers to the past and present conditions that allowed Trump to seize electoral control of a major American political party.”
A professor at Clemson University believes he’s identified the fugitive slave who was harbored for one night in the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Moreover, the professor believes that the man was “an inspiration for the novel [Uncle Tom’s Cabin]. I think his pain touched [Stowe] and helped her to act.”
Move over, “GIF.” (Or, more accurately: animate yourself away from us in an unending loop.) There’s a new Oxford Dictionaries word of the year. Enter, “selfie,” a word of Australian origin that describes an ostensibly new “digital affair, [that’s actually] a novel iteration of an old form: the self-portrait.” (They even come with overarching themes of mortality.)
New this week is a debut collection of loosely linked stories that’s been getting some attention. Military families are the common theme in Siobhan Fallon’s You Know When the Men Are Gone. Another newly released debut is Eleanor Brown’s The Weird Sisters about a Shakespeare scholar’s three daughters, all named after characters from the Bard’s plays. Also new this week, a tome dedicated to the “hot” condiment of the moment, The Sriracha Cookbook.
Coulrophobes take heed! You’re not scared of clowns because they’re inherently dark, or even because you caught a few minutes of Stephen King’s IT on television. In fact, you probably owe your fear of clowns to a fellow named Joseph Grimaldi, the “Homo erectus of clown evolution.” When this progenitor died in 1837, a young Charles Dickens “was charged with editing his memoirs.” The resulting portrait, relays Linda Rodriguez McRobbie, was what ultimately “water[ed] the seeds in popular imagination of the scary clown.”
“It is a darker book, I don’t deny that, but that’s the story that came to me and wanted to be told.” Seventeen years after Philip Pullman‘s His Dark Materials trilogy ended, the writer is releasing La Belle Sauvage, the first volume of his new trilogy, The Book of Dust. Pullman also said the second volume of the trilogy of already complete, according to The Guardian. Check out our own Janet Potter on grief, books, and His Dark Materials.