At the Believer, Raven Leilani, author of Luster, discusses her desire to write Black women who actively resist conforming to society’s preconceptions about them. “I wanted to afford a Black woman the latitude to be fallible,” she says. “I wanted to write against the idea that there is a particular way to comport yourself to earn the right to empathy. Black women are especially subject to this expectation, and I think to have to expertly navigate racist and sexist terrain to survive and be denied the right to a human response is to deny that person dignity. It’s a recipe for a repressed, combustible person. I’ve been there, and I’m still unlearning that reflexive curation as we speak, so it was a relief to write a Black woman who leads with her id. It was a relief to write toward her want and rage without apology, which is, unfortunately, what some people might find unlikeable.”
Stephen King talks to James Parker of The Atlantic about how his new short story came to be, his writing process, and the state of fiction today. He also manages to work in his opinions on Judas Priest and Metallica. Read “Herman Wouk is Still Alive” here.
Jennifer Lawrence is putting down Katniss’s bow and arrow for another literary adaption. She will star as the malevolent Cathy Ames in a new adaptation of John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. Gary Ross, who first teamed up with Lawrence for The Hunger Games, will direct. Pair with: Our essay on vile women in fiction, which features the infamous Cathy.
Earlier this month, I wrote about Louis Menand’s recent New Yorker piece about The Life of Saul Bellow, a new biography of the Nobel laureate by Zachary Leader. Now, in the LRB, Andrew O’Hagan reads the book. Sample quote: “Bellow’s community was his subject and his subject was his voice.”
“Language on a daily basis is being recycled. Our students are learning the language of the old and new masters; they are taking them in, mixing their words with the language they know, creating something new. Yet something there remains. Something familiar. Something like a forgotten first kiss. Like a well-known song sung in a different language.” Ira Sukrungruang on “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Deep Reading and Mimicry, With an Ending that Totally Plagiarizes Wallace Stevens.” After all, who doesn’t want to plagiarize Wallace Stevens?