At Vulture, Kathryn VanArendonk reflects on the life and work of Beverly Cleary, who portrayed children with all their complexities, tantrums, and anger included. “Cleary’s true genius was for the emotional realism she gradually developed alongside that external grounding,” VanArendonk writes. “Her characters are not just kids who play like actual kids; they are people who have problems and desires that readers will recognize. Cleary’s honesty about anger, disappointment, and jealousy, her refusal to excuse those emotions in her characters or try to fix them quickly, her willingness to tell a story about a kid in a bad mood and let everybody see exactly how bad it really is — this is what feels most revolutionary about Cleary’s work. She saw the bad moods and she saw the scarily mundane things that cause the bad moods.”
With the full trailer out for the upcoming James Bond release, Skyfall, I have to confess I’m totally obsessing over British spy stuff of late. Luckily there are some supplements to scratch that itch: Tina Rosenberg’s new story for The Atavist, D for Deception, about a real British spy writer who became a spy himself; Bee Wilson’s fascinating review of Ben MacIntyre’s outrageous but true investigation of WWII double agents, Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies; Alexander Cockburn’s recap of the time George Orwell supplied “a list of the names of persons on the left who he deemed security risks” to the IRD; the story of Ernest Hemingway’s lousy espionage; and the video Her Royal Majesty’s recent skydiving escapade with 007.
Who killed the literary critic?: “In the age of blogging, great critics appear to be on life support. Salon’s book reviewers discuss snobbery, how to make criticism fun and the need for cultural gatekeepers.” The ongoing, seemingly never ending discussion of the death of literature and criticism continues, though Salon’s interest in “how to make criticism fun” is a promising sign.Online used book marketplace AbeBooks looks at the yearbook collecting subculture. The most expensive yearbook to every be sold on the site? The Ole Miss Yearbook 1921 containing “William Faulkner’s poem, ‘Nocturne,’ in facsimile of the author’s stylized printing over a two-page spread along with several Faulkner drawings.”Buzz presents the Nixon Rock on his Madonna of the Toast blog.Carolyn has been on an enviable literary-themed roadtrip. Luckily we can read along at home.
Where did the authors on late night TV go? They’re all on Craig Ferguson’s The Late Late Show. At Esquire, Sean Manning pays tribute to Ferguson’s literary tastes by talking to some of the authors who appeared on his show, including Neil Gaiman, Salman Rushdie, Sloane Crosley, and more.
Yesterday, I wrote that I “[had] yet to read a comprehensive debunking” of B.R. Myers. For those still interested, I’ve been directed to some candidates: Meghan O’Rourke (2001), Daniel Green (2007), the Washington City Paper (2010, concerning neocon ideology and the shadowy RAND corporation), and part I of Steven Moore‘s The Novel: An Alternative History.
“As I read her words, I experienced a feeling previously unknown to me: recognition. I had always turned to books for pleasure, as portals to other places. Reading The Woman Warrior, for the first time I saw myself on every page and in every word.” For Catapult, Alexis Cheung writes about representation, being an Asian-American writer, and reading and interviewing Maxine Hong Kingston. From our archives: Kingston’s work was featured in Alexander Chee‘s 2015 Year in Reading.