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 October 14, 2018.
- At the New York Times, Ember in Ashes author Sabaa Tahir celebrates The Hunger Games’ 10th anniversary with an ode to Katniss Everdeen:
“Katniss Everdeen’s name always booms through me like a firework,” says Dhonielle Clayton, author of “The Belles,” and chief operating officer of We Need Diverse Books, a nonprofit organization. “A bright reminder of what is required to change the world: defiance, irreverence and a stubborn determination. I needed to read girls like her; girls who weren’t so nice; girls so angry that their rage could topple anything in their path; girls that could face the dark; girls who could never be contained.”
Eventually, I just started reading the children’s library alphabetically, working my way through it author by author. I cannot imagine being happier than that. I would walk home when the library closed at 6, and be home in time for dinner. It was a perfect arrangement, one marred only by hunger, so I would take a sandwich in a plastic bag, and grudgingly head outside to the parking lot to scoff it as quickly and efficiently as I could. Eating time was not reading time.
Woolf grasped intuitively that narrative daring and insouciance could be driven to political ends, that lightness of heart did not mean an absence of conviction, but she remained unconvinced that her contemporaries would get it. In that sense, Orlando feels like an artifact from and for the future, a character who refuses to be bound by conventions, and who invites us to consider the possibility that all of our certainties are in fact contingencies.
I never can feel that O’Neill is writing about men—just about the abstracted damp souls of undergraduates. It is not that he cannot “think”—it is that he cannot touch: for all that fine “experience” of his young manhood—sea and saloons and sanitariums—the immediacy of life has never reached him. You can see this in his language, that dreadful, dreadful soggy language, which sounds like and has in it the slang of two decades ago. The loss of the sense of touch: it marks more and more of our thought and literature. Even our language to describe it is out of touch: we say “lost contact with.” When I reach out to take O’Neill’s hand, I feel as I had grasped an inflated rubber glove.
- At LitHub, Emily Temple is going through every year of the 20th century, one decade at a time, and naming the most defining book of the year. So far she’s up the ’40s — or in this case, the decade of Goodnight Moon, Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, and 1984.
- A few big page-to-screen news items this week: First of all, the director of Edge of Seventeen has signed on to adapt Judy Blume’s immortal Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret …
- … and second of all, FX has announced that it will be adapting Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties into a Black Mirror-like anthology series.
- At Popula, Maria Bustillos expands the canonical critique of Joan Didion (that she prioritizes aesthetics over politics) into a scorching takedown of neoliberalism:
Didion’s work is an unrelenting exercise in class superiority, and it will soon be as unendurable as a minstrel show. It is the calf-bound, gilt-edged bible of neoliberal meritocracy. The weirdest thing about it is that this dyed-in-the-wool conservative woman (she started her career at the National Review) somehow became the irreproachable darling of New York media and stayed that way for decades, all on the strength of a dry, self-regarding prose style and a “glamor shot” with a Corvette.
- Scammers are sending emails to authors that appear to come from their agents or literary scouts, and asking for manuscripts. Per Ed Nawotka at Publishers Weekly, whoever is running the scam has a lot of industry know-how:
“The books I lost to them are not particularly significant and included some rather obscure material, but it is clear these are people who know our business,” said Lewis. “They know the way scouts work and how transactions are made.”
Grey Tan of the Greyhawk Agency told PW he’s had requests from fake Greek and Israeli publishers and U.K. scouts asking for materials. “It was eerie as they obviously had inside knowledge,” said Tan. “They even asked for the story collection and an upcoming novel of a not-so-famous Chinese writer that I represent. And I did not even know about the upcoming collection/novel!”
Meanwhile, here’s a rundown of the week in books at Vox:
As always, you can keep up with Vox’s book coverage by visiting vox.com/books. Happy reading!