Children’s Books from the Margins of Life with Maurice Sendak

-

At Electric Literature, Michele Kirichanskaya delves into the ways Maurice Sendak’s experiences as a queer, Jewish writer influenced his innovative children’s books. “Rather than patronizing his young readers, painting an illusion of childhood ‘innocence,’ he respected them by acknowledging the terrifying reality of what it meant to be a child,” Kirichanskaya writes, “someone who existed on the margins of life, who possessed both intense vulnerability and incredible insight, unfiltered by adult biases. Sendak, along with literary innovator and legendary editor Ursula Nordstrom, created a book that would become emblematic of the richness and depth of children’s picture books.”

The Coming-of-Age Stories That Made Charlie Jane Anders

-

At Clarkesworld Magazine, Charlie Jane Anders discusses the coming-of-age stories that shaped her award-winning science fiction and helped her confront the world in front of her. “What I love in a coming-of-age story is a character who is discovering their identity at the same time that they’re learning how the world works,” she says. “There’s something super powerful and also heartbreaking about realizing that the world wasn’t what you thought, while also claiming your own selfhood and your own power. I sort of think of Empire Strikes Back as the great coming-of-age story, alongside the Earthsea books. And more recently, Binti by Nnedi Okorafor.”

A History of Resilience, Documented by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim

-

At the Margins, graphic novelist, painter, and translator Keum Suk Gendry-Kim discusses her newest book, The Waiting, inspired by her mother’s family separation and reunion in the midst of war. “I speak about the violence that took place in Korean history,” she says. “But with these stories, I am able to show the resilience of the people who lived through these hardships. The themes of all my books are connected. My parents lived through these events—sometimes intimately, sometimes just by being alive—and I come from them.”

Ghost Stories and Haunted Histories, as Told by Louise Erdrich

-

At Oprah Daily, Pulitzer-Prize winning author Louise Erdrich discusses her new novel, The Sentence, a ghost story that follows Tookie, a bookstore employee and handles serious topics with nuance and dark humor. “Who doesn’t want to write a ghost story?” asks Erdich. And it’s not only about a haunted bookstore; it’s about how we are haunted by history and how that alters the present. And the humor is Tookie’s—she has a way with words.”

Trying Anything on the Page with Kiese Laymon

-

At the New York Times, Tressie McMillan Cottom interviews fellow author Kiese Laymon on the fear and willingness to try anything that fuels his writing process. “When I get on that page, I’m scared, but like that fear just kind of like is always met with something,” Laymon says. “And often, that fear is met with my trying to use an assemblage of languages I haven’t seen before. I just think if I can write, it’s because I’m unafraid to fail in that medium. I’ll try anything. I’ll write anything. And that doesn’t mean — that doesn’t mean you’re going to see it, but it means that I will try anything on the page.”

Kyle Lucia Wu Leaves Room to Think Expansively

-

At BOMB Magazine, Kyle Lucia Wu discusses her debut novel, Win Me Something, as well as the process of balancing discipline with self-kindness when writing. “In the early years of writing this book, I was waking up super early to write before work or setting word count goals that I had to meet,” Wu explains. “I do think discipline and routine are valuable, but so are rest and space and being kind to yourself. I still struggle with wanting to be productive, but I think my early fixation with productiveness didn’t allow me the space I needed to think expansively and intuitively.”

Leaning Into Power with Sonia Sanchez

-

Last month legendary poet Sonia Sanchez won the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize —a $250,000 lifetime achievement honor— and NPR is taking a look back on her lasting influence in the world of poetry and beyond. “Part of Sanchez’s power comes from advocating for her people—and from blazing a trail for poets who came after her. Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, who now has five poetry collections and a novel, says she learned how to lean into her power through Sanchez. ‘I remember how Miss Sonia would close her eyes sometimes when she would read,’ Jeffers says, thinking of one of her earliest readings in front of a big crowd. ‘And so I closed my eyes and I felt something enter me. And when I opened my eyes, I wasn’t scared anymore.'”

Sandra Cisneros Writes Stories That Take on a Life of Their Own

-

At Bustle, Sandra Cisneros discusses her new book, Martita, I Remember You, an unsent letter from a woman recalling a brief stay in Paris and the sisterhoods she formed during her time there. “It’s kind of like a kite,” Cisneros says of her writing process. “You begin with your own story, and the higher it goes, it starts to take off and characters start to say things you would never say. The more you tether it to your life, it won’t go very far. It has to begin from something constructed for me that’s real, and then I just give it more string.”

A Feast Fit for Frankenstein and His Monster

-

At the Paris Review, Valerie Stivers cooks a feast inspired by the food found within the pages of Mary Shelley’s gothic classic, Frankenstein. “I planned to make the bread pudding, which sounded easy and delicious, and the cocktail, which miraculously asked only for alcohols I already had on hand,” Stivers writes. “I also wanted to include a dish made from items I could forage myself, and settled on apple scones made with acorn flour (both are in season). If Victor Frankenstein had been merciful and created a wife for the monster, the wife would have been in luck, because these foods were amazing.”

The Grisly Reading Habits of Victorian Children

-

At Atlas Obscura, Sarah Durn looks at the history of penny dreadfuls, “grisly tales of murder, crime, and the supernatural” that enthralled Victorian children and teenagers and kept them reading. “The popularity of penny dreadfuls had another side,” Durn writes. “They helped to promote literacy, especially among younger readers, at a time when, for many children, formal education was nonexistent or, well, Dickensian. […] People were invested in the stories of Jack Harkaway and Sweeney Todd, and there was only one good way to keep up—learn to read.”