At the Paris Review, Adrienne Raphel looks back at Beverly Cleary’s beloved Ramona Quimby series, and notes that the books are riddled with odd discrepancies that are both puzzling and charming. “Ramona taught us how to look for the weirdness in the everyday,” Raphel writes, “and the everyday in the scariest moments. When she wears a particularly gruesome witch costume in Ramona the Pest (the baddest witch in the world!,’ she declares), she begins the day delighted with her anonymity, but ends terrified by the greatest fear of all: no one will know who she is. So, she carries a huge poster with her name on it, presumably beaming under the warty disguise. The mask itself isn’t scary—disappearing, anonymity, being forgotten is what’s most frightening of all.”
“In a new biography, The Lady with the Borzoi: Blanche Knopf, Literary Tastemaker Extraordinaire (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Laura Claridge argues that Blanche Knopf was actually the more important and influential of the two Knopfs. That’s a stretch, but her book is still a long-overdue acknowledgment of the pioneering role Blanche played at a time when women were nearly invisible in the business world.” Find out more about Blanche Knopf at The New Yorker. Edan Lepucki’s 2011-2012 list on why not to self-publish is still relevant.
“Apple’s example sentence for ‘shrill’ referenced ‘women’s voices,’ and the one for the word ‘psyche’ read, ‘I will never really fathom the female psyche.’ […] The pronouns in entries for ‘doctor’ and ‘research’ were male, while a ‘she’ could be found doing ‘housework.’” The New Oxford American Dictionary needs its own guidelines for nonsexist usage.
Nick Flynn‘s memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City (reviewed on our site last year) is being adapted into a movie for 2012. Being Flynn will star Paul Dano as Flynn, and his parents will be played by Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore. You can check out a trailer here. Or, if you want to check out what kind of books Flynn likes, you can check out his 2010 entry in our Year In Reading series.
Seeing as yesterday was Donald Barthelme’s birthday, it’s as good a time as any to remember the short fiction icon. At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova reads Barthelme’s essay “Not-Knowing,” which you can find in the author’s collection of essays and interviews. Sample quote: “Art is not difficult because it wishes to be difficult, but because it wishes to be art.”