In 1907, it was quite a surprise to see a woman at the top of the bestseller list. Now, women routinely write top-selling books, with Delia Owens‘s Where the Crawdad Sings and Tara Westover’s Educated currently ruling the fiction and nonfiction lists. Over at the New York Times, Tina Jordan unearths an old article marveling over the new phenomenon of the “lit’ry lady,” which at the time, seemed to be led by the record-breaking sales of Edith Wharton’s The Fruit of the Tree. “The really striking thing,” the article goes on to say, “about the encroachments of women on the preserves of man in book writing is not to be found on the purely literary side, but on the business side of the situation. Women are writing more and more best-sellers.”
A couple weeks ago, our own Janet Potter reviewed Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, a new book which examines the rise of public shaming on social media. In the Times, Ronson takes part in the paper’s By the Book series, several entries of which we’ve written about before. Among other things, he recommends The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and Violence by James Gilligan.
Following up their publication of Charles Portis’s “Motel Life, Lower Reaches” online, the Oxford American brings us a speech in verse by Jay Jennings, the editor of a recent compilation of Portis’s work (which our own Bill Morris reviewed). Jennings delivered an ode to Portis to mark the author winning the Porter Prize Lifetime Achievement Award. Sample quote: “But you read the next book because the main character was from Little Rock,/and you knew no other book where the main character was from Little Rock/and you wanted to write a book about Little Rock.”
Happy almost-Thanksgiving to our American readers! To celebrate, why not whip up a nice bowl of Everyone Get the Hell Out of of the Kitchen Right Now Before I Kill All of You Cranberry-Orange Dressing and pray that none of your other recipes have mistakes in them.
Although we’ll never get the chance to read Walter White’s memoir, we’ll get the next best thing. Bryan Cranston is writing a memoir due out next year. “With this book, I want to tell the stories of my life and reveal the secrets and lies that I lived with for six years shooting Breaking Bad,” he said. While you wait, grab a book from our Breaking Bad reading list.
We’ve covered the Atlantic series By Heart a number of times before. It features notable authors writing about their favorite passages. In the latest edition, Mary-Beth Hughes picks out a paragraph from Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Blue Flower, about a poet who’s trying to cope with grief. Sample quote: “Reading Fitzgerald, I felt it was possible to write as I’d experienced dancing.”