And the rest of the week’s best writing on books and related subjects.
Welcome to Vox’s weekly book link roundup, a curated selection of the internet’s best writing on books and related subjects. Here’s the best the web has to offer for the week of July 15, 2018.
- You may have noticed that the New York Times Book Review’s weekly By the Book column, in which authors are interviewed about their favorite books, tends to be dude-heavy in its recommendations. As a corrective, Electric Literature is introducing a new series called Read More Women, which specifically asks writers to recommend books that weren’t written by men. The first installment features Maria Dahvana Headley.
- At LitHub, Leslie Schwartz writes about the books she read in jail:
I had a lot of time on my hands. A Jail-Day was the rough equivalent to three really shitty Normal-Life-Days. So when I started a book, I read every word very slowly. It was the first time I felt cursed by my ability to read fast. The books taught me how to slow down. I felt the sentences stretch along the space-time continuum. Each word filled my mouth.
- Also at LitHub, Nick Ripatrazone tracks the parallels between writing a book and long-distance running:
Running and writing a book both contain repetition, some surprises, and a good amount of exhaustion. Some days I try to find any excuse possible not to run; I was able to convince myself that a recent chance of hail would become the apocalypse, so I stayed off the trail. Some days writing feels impossible — I might spend most of the day with a phrase or sentence that feels right, but once I sit at the desk, it becomes vacuous, trite.
- Philip Roth’s books are filled with jam, specifically Tiptree Little Scarlet Strawberry Preserve. At the New Yorker’s blog, a book critic and a food critic give it a spin:
It’s so clear what the jam represents for him, and the passage in “Sabbath’s Theater” makes it clearer still. It’s about money, and aspiration, and sex — more broadly, longing, one of Roth’s great themes. In “Asymmetry,” this longing is fulfilled. Blazer seems to have achieved the life he wants, the life of Mickey Sabbath’s rich friends on Central Park West, and his pride at this is laid bare by his request for Little Scarlet.
- We are more than halfway through 2018, but President Donald Trump has yet to award the 2016 National Medal of Arts, reports the New York Times. It’s a move that fits into this president’s general antipathy toward the arts.
- The saga of Amazon’s third-party booksellers messing with pricing continues: As reported by the New York Times, now they’re jacking up the cost of used paperbacks into the thousands of dollars:
Buying books on Amazon can be confusing, because sometimes the exact same book can have more than one listing. For instance, a search for the Petry book turned up another listing. This time, there was just one copy for sale, which cost a mere $691. Whether a customer paid that price or three times that sum apparently depended on what listing he or she found.
- At the Outline, Randall Colburn delves into the Stephen King renaissance:
King’s enjoyed numerous renaissances since Carrie put him on the map in 1973 — the era following Brian De Palma’s 1976 film adaptation; the early ‘90s one-two punch of Misery’s Oscar win and Tommy Lee Wallace’s It miniseries; the two-year spell at the turn of the millennium when he dropped the final three Dark Tower books. This one, however, is markedly different than those that came before, due not only to its scale and scope, but also because it’s unfolding in a generation that’s succeeded at both commodifying and intellectualizing nostalgia.
- At the New York Times, Ruth Franklin analyzes our fascination with stories about evil children:
The most basic question these stories must address is how the child got this way. Are some children simply born evil? Or do their parents make them so, through abuse, neglect, hypercriticism or overinvolvement? Here the mother’s privileged intimacy with her child is a poisonous paradox. It’s almost always her fault in some way, regardless of her intentions.
- Remember #Cockygate? At The Verge, Sarah Jeong explores the Wild West landscape on Kindle Unlimited that led an indie romance writer to try to trademark the word “cocky”:
The stereotype of a Kindle Unlimited author is someone who is “pumping out short, pulpy reads,” in the words of best-selling romance writer Zoe York. But even if you write well, write prolifically, and cater to the market, it still doesn’t mean you’ll find success. “That skill set of finding a cold audience, getting them to hook into your product, and then consume through your product backlist, that’s harder than it sounds,” says York. The people who do succeed have that skill set. “They’re not good writers, but they’re great marketers.”
Meanwhile, here’s a rundown of the week in books at Vox:
- What 2 fictional Gileads can teach us about America in 2018
- How the West became a self-obsessed culture
- In The Garden Party, family discord gets a beautifully retro, modernist treatment
- With Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik cements her status as one of the great YA fantasy authors
As always, you can keep up with Vox’s book coverage by visiting vox.com/books. Happy reading!
Author: Constance Grady