“Somehow, in my eagerness to honor these words, I’d tamed the political intentions behind their meaning. I’d reduced my icon’s truths into affirmational pick-me-ups rather than letting them sink deeper.” Dianca Potts reflects on how to best to appreciate the fullness of Maya Angelou, Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison. We need to resist erasing their complexities in our haste to embrace them as icons or reduce them to inspirational quotes.
Recommended Reading: Kavita Das on why writers shouldn’t romanticize rejection. “Not only is it harder for writers of color to get published, but when rejecting our work, publishers tell us that what we’re writing about is too narrow and niche and won’t appeal to mainstream audiences.” Our own Bill Morris writes about the sorry state of rejection letters and literary magazine editors take your questions about them.
In a short biographical piece for Open Letters Monthly, Sam Sacks writes about the book reviewing career of Katherine Mansfield and the ways in which it “helped her build the writing muscles needed” to finish her masterful short stories. While some critics might take umbrage at the way Sacks characterizes Mansfield as “turning out deadline copy like an ink-stained Fleet Street hack,” his look into her reviews culminates in the realization that “the point [of reviewing books] is not to be constructive but to construct something of lasting value in the little space and little time you’re granted. Like all writing, it should be a passion, not a pastime. The point is to dazzle.”
“Jo Freeman, a feminist writer and activist who worked with Firestone from the beginning, said at the memorial, ‘When I think back on Shulie’s contribution to the movement, I think of her as a shooting star. She flashed brightly across the midnight sky, and then she disappeared.'” At The New Yorker, Susan Faludi writes on the legacy of Shulamith Firestone.
Out this week: The Children Act by Ian McEwan; The Dog by Joseph O’Neill; Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas; Hold the Dark by William Giraldi; Prelude to Bruise by Saeed Jones; Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Glück; Gangsterland by Tod Goldberg; Happiness: Ten Years of n + 1; Neverhome by Laird Hunt; and Station Eleven by our own Emily St. John Mandel. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
It’s bye week over at Football Book Club. And while there’s no new book to read this week — everybody’s resting up, licking their wounds, and sticking pins in Jay Cutler voodoo dolls — you, gentle reader, should be sure to check in for new posts on Louisa Hall’s Speak — and Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts.
According to a report for The Wall Street Journal (paywall), Barnes & Noble will be lessening its floor space allotted to traditional books in order to make way for more Nook displays. Over at Melville House’s blog, MobyLives, publisher Dennis Johnson speculates that this move could signify the end of the road for Barnes & Noble as a bookseller.