At BOMB Magazine, Jean Chen Ho discusses her new novel, Fiona and Jane, which follows a friendship between two women over the course of decades. “Even though they’re not real or based on people in my life,” she says, “I think the characters invoke communities that I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of. I’m also not a big ‘representation matters’ person. To have representation is something. But it’s more important to me to just think of my characters as individuals and real human beings. There are people who have mental health issues, who have rage, who love to tell jokes, people who love sex and have a lot of joy.”
Hypocrisy is a funny thing. In theory, we all dislike it, seeing an ability to live by one’s own morals as a virtue in itself, but the fact that everybody breaks their own rules from time to time means that our aversion to hypocrisy is a little bit… hypocritical. On the Harper’s blog, Clancy Martin dissects the meaning of the fact that “we’re all hypocrites.”
Several recent novels — among them Dave Eggers’s The Circle and Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge –tackle the effects of social media on our world. The latest, Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen, may be the best of the bunch, writes Andrew Hulktrans. At Bookforum, he explains why Cohen’s depiction of an app-saturated world is unparalleled. You could also read Jonathan Frederick Post on Cohen’s novel Witz.
Daylight savings time = more daylight to read by, and as luck would have it New York Review Books is having their winter sale, so you have no excuse to be out of reading material. You can stock up on titles 50% off through the end of March / the beginning of actual Spring.
Year in Reading alumna Porochista Khakpour has a stunning new story in Bennington Review. She writes, “I had made a point of trying to learn the names of everyone in my department, after my previous department chair at my last VAP job advised ‘best way to make a best impression is know every name of professor and student alike.’” For more of her writing, check out her Millions piece on George Saunders.
“The power and meaning of the written word are central to the complexities we face today—both as a nation, and globally. To my mind, freedom of expression is a basic human right.” Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan has been named the new president of PEN America. Pair with: our own Edan Lepucki‘s 2010 profile of Egan.
For everyone who likes typography and arguments, New York Magazine has a story up that covers the type designers Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones and follows the pair through their success to their ultimate rift. For those who prefer debates with more immediate impact, Mental Floss has a breakdown of the best shots fired in the fight over the Oxford Comma.