Whether they’re expected or not, houseguests often add intrigue and excitement to a novel. For The Guardian, author Jessica Francis Kane (who recently spoke to The Millions about her fourth book, Rules for Visiting) lists some of her favorite houseguests in literature, including King Lear, Jane Bennet, and more. “Allegedly there are only two kinds of story: someone goes on a journey, or someone comes to town. Either way the person has to stay somewhere, so the houseguest story is everywhere once you start looking for it.”
In 1970, a journalist named Joseph Epstein wrote an essay for Harper’s that came to a frightening conclusion: that Epstein would, if possible, “wish homosexuality off the face of the Earth.” The incendiary language inspired Merle Miller, a former editor at the magazine, to publish a call-to-arms, “What It Means to Be a Homosexual,” that became the basis of the book On Being Different. Emily Greenhouse puts the essay in context at Page-Turner.
John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester, was a dear friend (even protégé) of King Charles II. He was also a sharp-tongued poet who called out the same King on his bedroom behavior: “His sceptre and prick are of a length; / And she may sway the one who plays with th’other.”
“Ms. Cline, who was 27 when the novel came out, was celebrated as a major new talent. But for the last two years, her success has been overshadowed, in private, by legal threats levied against her by a former boyfriend.” Emma Cline, bestselling author of The Girls, and her ex-boyfriend, Chaz Reetz-Laiolo, have filed public lawsuits against each other including allegations of plagiarism, physical abuse, and intimidation, according to the New York Times. From our archives: staff writer Michael Bourne‘s review of Cline’s debut novel.
Someone’s finally done it, and it’s our own Emily St. John Mandel, to boot: over at FiveThirtyEight, Mandel crunches the numbers on books with the word “girl” in the title, concluding that we may not have reached peak girl yet. (Also 65% of the time, the girl in question is actually a woman.) Nonetheless, if you’re looking to go rogue, check out our guide about how to title every book you ever write.