At Autostraddle, Kristen Arnett discusses the inspiration behind her latest novel, With Teeth, and her ongoing obsession with dysfunctional families. “I’m obsessed with writing about families and thinking about families because families are so fucked up,” Arnett says. “It’s the most fun thing to write about. Every family, even families that are doing okay, have some fucked up elements to them. So I wanted to write about lesbians who were obviously very fucked up in their family and what that looks like both from the outside and what that looks like from the inside. Think about it this way — everybody in a family is an unreliable narrator. Even families who share the same stories don’t tell those stories in the same way. I wanted it to be this claustrophobic, sometimes terrifying, feeling story of how motherhood and queerness in this specific space could feel weirdly oppressive. You don’t understand yourself and the dysfunction gets to a point where it turns into this cyclical bad way to behave.”
Working off of some investigative work done by Ronald Hamilton – a writer who recently worked as a bookbinder at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania library – Into the Wild author Jon Krakauer may have finally determined the cause of Christopher McCandless’s death in the Alaskan wilderness.
Since we’re deep into the season of “year end” lists, here’s a list of ten great novels written by women that didn’t get a lot of critical attention this year. That isn’t to say that aren’t a ton of other books deserving of this distinction, just that these are some really good ones. Go list-crazy and pair with our own Year in Reading series.
We are all Beliebers: the London Review of Books reviews The Love Song of Jonny Valentine, whose author, Teddy Wayne, told us last month that “it misses the point to discard fiction simply because it’s about social media or the celebrity-gossip machine and not Iraq or divorce.”
Selections from Open Yale Courses are headed to print. As program director John Donatich explains, “At first glance, you might look at it skeptically and ask why would anybody pay for something that you can get for free. But on second glance you realize that it’s actually not the same thing at all.”
Last April, our own Bill Morris bemoaned the current state of America’s higher education system. At the same time, Malcolm Harris derided the unreasonable cost of that same system. Now Benjamin Ginsberg, author of The Fall of the Faculty, places blame for both criticisms on the shoulders of universities’ expanding administrative staff.