Not familiar with Zora Neale Hurston or just need to brush up in preparation for her birthday? Liz Dwyer has got you covered. “Through the #MeToo movement we’ve read the stories of how calling out sexual harassment and the patriarchy has ruined women’s careers. Similarly, Hurston was shunned and derided by many of her male compatriots in the Harlem Renaissance for creating one of the first strong, black, and sexually aware female protagonists of 20th century American fiction.” Hooked yet? After you finish, read this essay by our own Jeffrey Colvin on visiting Zora’s birthplace and his sister.
There are plenty of new books to this week to fill that post-election void: Both Flesh and Not: Essays, a posthumously published collection from David Foster Wallace; Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior; Prosperous Friends by Christine Schutt; Magnificence by Lydia Millet; and These Things Happen, a debut by longtime TV writer Richard Kramer. From the indies, we have The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets by Diana Wagman and Keyhole Factory by William Gillespie. Also out are Philip Pullman’s new version of Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm; Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks; and a big new Michael Jackson biography by a former Rolling Stone editor.
To kick off South Florida’s O, Miami poetry festival (which I’ve written about before), event organizers and WLRN staffers are asking local residents to snap photos of “a place in South Florida that means something to [them],” and “write a short poem about it including the phrase ‘this is where.’” Then, share the poems and photos on Twitter or Instagram for a chance to be featured throughout the month of April. Meanwhile, the New York Times is on it.
Medievalist Elaine Treharne teaches a course on Beowulf at Stanford, and one of her primary theoretical questions for her students is, “What is (the) Text? … What constitutes Beowulf?” So she got to thinking. She wondered what she and her students would do “with a social media version of the poem.” What ensued is a distillation of the great epic in 100 tweets, which you can read over here.
What do you call a genre that mixes westerns and fantasy novels? Damien Walter proposes the term “weird western.” In The Guardian, he runs down the history of the hybrid category, citing Joe Abercrombie’s Red Country and Molly Tanzer’s Vermillion as examples. Pair with Daniel Kalder on the Euro-Western.