“A quick scan of the literature shows that the writerly gaze has been most often turned on male artists and their creative processes and passions.” Claire V Mullins aims to redirect this gaze with a list for Electric Literature of 11 novels about female artists, including Zadie Smith‘s latest, Swing Time, which we reviewed last year. Related: Elizabeth Silver on the rise of strong female characters and the death of the literary ingénue.
George Packer at Lapham’s Quarterly writes of meeting a young Burmese reader of Charles Dickens: “‘All of those characters are me,’ [he] explained. ‘Neither a British nor American young man living in the twenty-first century can understand a Dickens as well as I can…I am more equipped to understand Dickens than modern novels. I don’t know what is air conditioning, what is subway, what is fingerprint exam.’” (via Book Bench)
“I don’t try to deliver a message, teach, inform or ‘give back’ in my books. I simply want to tell a story. My writing is totally separated from my activism and social service, which are channeled through my Foundation.” Megan Bradshaw interviews Isabel Allende for Asymptote Journal.
“There is no divorcing the lack of diversity in the outdoors from a history of violence against the black body, systemic racism, and income inequality,” writes Rahawa Haile in her description of hiking the full length of the Appalachian Trail. Along the way, Haile documented her journey and the books she carried — books written by black authors. In a debrief interview, she explains her motivation: “I want[ed] to bring these books places no one likely has. I want[ed] to document where black brilliance belongs.”
“Imaginary Oklahoma” writes Oklahoman writer James McGirk, “is an anthology of forty-six writers’ attempts to envision Oklahoma without ever having visited America’s forty-sixth state.” You can get a taste for the pieces over at The Paris Review, or you can check out the book trailer and attempt to envision The Paris Review‘s write-up without actually reading it.
“Mr. Walt Whitman has imagined that a certain amount of violent sympathy with the great deeds and sufferings of our soldiers, and of admiration for our national energy, together with a ready command of picturesque language, are sufficient inspiration for a poet. If this were the case, we had been a nation of poets.” A young Henry James reviews Whitman’s Drum Taps.