If you’ve only heard one PJ Harvey song, it’s probably “Down by the Water” off her 1995 album To Bring You My Love. A runaway hit that broke the top 50 on UK and US music charts, it epitomized the unique aesthetic direction of third album, which Rolling Stone described as “a towering goth version of grunge.” The video showcased the “Joan Crawford on acid” look she’d come up with for the record’s tour: ball gown, immense wig, false eyelashes, and makeup that looked like it was smeared on with melting crayons....more
Posts by: Lauren O'Neal
You may have seen the recent series of UN Women ads using screenshots of Google auto-complete suggestions to educate viewers about sexist stereotypes.
This Book Riot post does the same thing but with famous authors—for example, when you type in “Ernest Hemingway was,” what does Google predict you’ll type next?...more
They talk about cohesion in short-story collections, faraway settings, and van den Berg’s collection of ceramic Loch Ness monsters. A preview:
…the women I write about are often seduced by the ugliness and the danger, by the violence or the promise of it—and they often end up paying a steep price for that seduction, in that moment where the promise of violence falls away and the bare, brutal reality of it appears.
In the 1980s, when it became apparent that HIV was blood-borne, China banned blood donations from outside the country—but instituted no other HIV-related tests or regulations, not even against reusing needles. HIV quickly began to spread among those giving and receiving blood, possibly infecting as many as two million people....more
If your fingers aren’t too frozen to click, here’s the weekend Rumpus roundup.
First, our film editor Anisse Gross reviewed Hilton Als’s new book White Girls:
Each time I took it out of my bag, people glanced at me wide-eyed, as if merely the title White Girls was too much out-loud talk about race in public.
How did video games go from being completely gender-neutral to being the centerpiece of a male-dominated, often misogynistic subculture?
Polygon’s Tracy Lien investigates in a fascinating history of the industry’s relationship to gender.
It’s interesting whether you’re into video games or not—though, as the article points out, if you play Bejeweled, Angry Birds, or even Windows Solitaire, you may be more into video games than you think....more
If all you know about Santería is that it’s a line in that one Sublime song, you should check out this interview with Caridad, a Santería priestess, over at the Hairpin.
Caridad explains the basics of her religion (more accurately called Lucumí), including nature spirits, reading the future with cowrie shells, and how animal-sacrifice rituals are actually “the OG farm-to-table.” Here’s her description of the way she had to dress for a year after her initiation:
I’d have people in the community just come up to me on the street and talk to me like a child.
The best things on my CV—the ones I almost want to use comic sans for, just so they’ll stand out—haven’t paid me.
In an essay for The Toast, Jilly Gagnon lays bare the realities of the writing life: handling 3,128 rejections, working a day job, and drying Mom’s tears when she sees the size of the apartment you can afford....more
I was not heretofore aware feminists were disappointed in [Michelle] Obama and how she chooses to live her life. I was not aware that Obama was not an activist. Now I know.
For Salon, our essays editor Roxane Gay takes on a Politico piece lambasting Michelle Obama for not being feminist enough....more
Last November, journalist Leonora LaPeter Anton profiled a woman named Gretchen Molannen, who had been living for years with an almost unbearable chronic illness: persistent genital arousal disorder.
The day after the piece was published, Anton was notified that Molannen had committed suicide....more
When she saw him in the morning, Dan was still on the couch in front of the TV, speaking in fragments, muttering to himself, screaming obscenities, bursting into sobs. Now and then, he was mute, retreating to his bedroom with a bottle of scotch.
Brazil has a nearly two-hundred-year-old poetic history, during which various poets have fought to define Brazilian identity, criticize the injustices of capitalism, and catalog “the joys and miseries of being young in a military dictatorship.”
Now that Brazil has become more stable, many poets want “simply to write good poetry....more
In 1963, a high-schooler named Bruce McAllister decided he would prove to his English teacher once and for all that the symbols she was asking students to find in books like The Scarlet Letter were not actually put there on purpose by authors....more
For Guernica, Lauren K. Alleyne interviews Retha Powers, editor of the new Bartlett’s Familiar Black Quotations, which collects quotes by a rainbow of black sources, from Zora Neale Hurston to NWA to ancient Egypt.
It’s a really interesting glimpse at the necessity and difficulty of distilling the essence of “the black experience” from all the different black experiences in the whole diaspora....more
We at the Rumpus love the Internet. We are, after all, a place to read, on the Internet (just check our Twitter bio).
But sometimes it’s good to contemplate how exactly you’re using the Internet and why, as Matthew Gallaway does in this piece for the Awl:
I had gradually become incapacitated by the endless sales pitch of my online persona, the implicit dissonance as I compared it to my offline self, the constant cycle of posturing and affirmation.
In a piece flawlessly titled “Reading While Female: How to Deal With Misogynists and Male Masturbation,” four female writers talk to each other about how women in college try to make sense of the male-dominated literature they’re taking in....more
Our resident cartoonist extraordinaire Yumi Sakugawa has some very exciting stuff coming up....more
Who says librarians can’t also be the leaders of organized crime rings?
The very man charged with protecting these treasures, Marino Massimo De Caro, a politically connected former director of the library, is accused of being at the center of a network of middlemen, book dealers and possibly crooked conservators — all part of what prosecutors say is a sometimes corrupt market for rare books…
The New York Times has more, including the best final paragraph you’ll read all week....more
If, while posting selfies to Twitter and reblogging Pacific Rim GIFs on Tumblr, you ever feel a pang of nostalgia for the Wilder Westier days of the Internet, here’s a story for you:
In January of 2012, a mysterious series of advanced cryptological puzzles with a creepy cicada theme led hackers and codebreakers on a chase deep into the darker parts of the web....more
Hope your Thanksgiving was bountiful and your travel experience wasn’t too terrible! Here’s what we had going on on the Rumpus this weekend.
Lydia Kiesling’s review of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch has stirred up a little controversy, but it’s thoughtful and engaged, we promise:
Donna Tartt is catnip for educated people who want to read entertaining but not difficult things about lofty topics and cosmopolitan people.
A few weeks before Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita came out, the New Yorker published a short story about a man consorting with a young woman named Lolita instead of her mother—but this story was by Dorothy Parker, whose career was entering its last-gasp phase....more
Check out the sparkling first issue of the Buenos Aires Review, an online literary/cultural magazine aiming to cultivate the conversation between the Americas with pieces in English and Spanish from writers in both North and South America.
Some highlights include:...more
Steve Almond, our friend and author of not one but two Rumpus columns, is teaching three classes in the Bay Area on the weekend of December 7–8.
In addition to the classes on obsession and humor in San Francisco that we blogged about earlier, Steve will be conducting a “freewheeling workshop” in Oakland on how to write sex scenes....more
Good news! The cutest thing to ever exist is now available for pre-order in our online store: the Write Like A Mother onesie.
We know how many fierce writer moms wanted something a little more child-appropriate than the classic WLAM mug, and what’s more child-appropriate than cuss-free kid clothes?...more
Like it or not, the meanings and uses of words are constantly shifting, because language.
At the Atlantic, Megan Garber writes about how the word “because,” normally a subordinating conjunction, is increasingly being used as a preposition, with examples and possible linguistic explanations:
However it originated, though, the usage of “because-noun” (and of “because-adjective” and “because-gerund”) is one of those distinctly of-the-Internet, by-the-Internet movements of language.
Why did my mother kill herself and I didn’t that year and have not?…I ask myself at the farmer’s market when David shows me the black radishes that I use in risotto or when Sarah takes me to the ranch and the horses press in on me so I’m nothing but warmth and breath and their snot on my hair. Is it this?