There was this thing that happened in the ’90s: a lot of women were making rock music. It seems simple to most of us here in the twenty-first century, but back then, it was apparently an extremely difficult concept to grasp, because every music magazine and radio station treated “rock music by women” as its own genre....more
Posts by: Lauren O'Neal
…“grew up in world (S.C.) that wouldn’t accept him,” “needs adulation,” “doesn’t sleep,” was “scarred for life.”…“What’s motivating Hayes?—basic question.”
An actor’s notes for a role? A writer’s sketch of a character for a novel? Actually, these are observations by the communications manager of agribusiness giant Syngenta, as she and her colleagues try to figure out how to discredit the scientist who found one of their herbicides to cause “birth defects in humans as well as in animals.”
For the New Yorker, Rachel Aviv tells the story of the corporation’s relentless campaign against one biology professor—and his increasingly desperate attempts to fight back....more
Common wisdom has it that the Internet has disconnected people from their sense of empathy—but maybe it’s just exposed society at large to greater numbers of people who were already unempathetic.
This Washington Post blog post reports on a Canadian study which “found that trolling correlated with higher rates of sadism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism, a certain lack of scruples when it comes to deceiving or manipulating other people.”
Is that better or worse?...more
Looking for a last-minute Valentine’s Day gift for the book-lover in your life? Why not pay that gift forward to your community?
Romance novelist Anna DeStefano’s Hearts for Hearts initiative “to give back to their communities by donating books they already own to nearby assistance groups” such as “homeless shelters, Medicaid nursing facilities, or similar centers.”
Or of course, our Letters in the Mail and book club subscriptions can always be given instantly—or, if your sweetheart is willing to wait, there’s our Write Like a Motherfucker mug with a big red heart on it....more
Melvil Dewey: inventor of the Dewey decimal system, godfather of modern library science, and…sexist jerk?
According to this Bitch blog post, Dewey helped open the field of librarianship to women by allowing them into his classes at Columbia’s library school, but he also relentlessly sexually harassed them....more
Pankaj Mishra has always been a politically outspoken writer, so when Mo Yan, who has defended the Chinese government’s censorship, won the Nobel Prize, Mishra was the last person anyone expected to defend him.
But he did, asking, “Do we ever expose the political preferences of Mo Yan’s counterparts in the West to such harsh scrutiny?”...more
Last year, writers Susannah Luthi and Niree Perian launched Connu, a sort of literary magazine in app form that curates short stories for readers. (We blogged about their Kickstarter campaign back in June.)
You’d think creating apps and writing fiction would go together like water and oil, but Luthi says it was actually surprisingly helpful to approach business from a writing background:
I’ll paraphrase John Trimble’s Writing with Style: What you build (or write) should be worth people’s attention.
This conversation at the Millions between Edan Lepucki and her copyeditor Susan Bradanini Betz is a beautiful paean to the editing process—and enlightening for anyone who wonders what precisely a copyeditor does.
Lepucki and Betz discuss author/editor compatibility, obsessive style sheets, and Donna Tartt’s anti-copyediting broadside....more
…over the past 40 years, despite endless debates about curricula, testing, teacher training, teachers’ salaries, and performance standards…there has been no improvement—none—in the academic proficiency of American high school students.
Also, “American high schools are even more boring than schools in nearly every other country.”...more
Supporters of African LGBT rights were so relieved about Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni’s veto of an anti-gay bill that they were nearly blindsided when Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan’s signed a similar bill into law.
The law prompted Binyavanga Wainaina, a prominent Kenyan author who also spends a lot of time in Lagos, Nigeria’s capital, to share something his wide readership did not know: he is gay....more
Lauren O’Neal reviews HARD TIMES BLUES by Elwin Cotman today in The Rumpus Book Reviews....more
Recently, we blogged about Lilit Marcus’s project to read only books by women for a year. That year taught her a lot, but there was one hitch: at the end, she realized that “of the 40 books I read this year, only six were by women of color....more
British art giant David Hockney is best known for pop-art paintings like A Bigger Splash, but he has also worked in many other mediums—including, it seems, illustrations for children’s books.
Over at Brain Pickings, Maria Popova highlights a recently reissued collection of fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm with striking, discomfiting drawings by Hockney....more
Back in college, Chelsey Clammer proclaimed herself an ecofeminist with an outbreak of bumper stickers on the back of her car: “Tree Hugging Dirt Worshiper,” “‘The Only Bush I Trust is My Own (and underneath that I wrote ‘and my girlfriend’s’),” and “a slew of…rainbow Ani Difranco stickers.”
These days, she’s more partial to Lil Wayne than the Lilith Fair, but she hasn’t given up her ecofeminist ideals, as she explains in an academically rigorous essay for the Nervous Breakdown:
“My anaconda don’t want none unless you’ve got buns, hun.” Mix-A-Lot views (a part of) himself as a snake—perhaps as being one with nature.
Conflicts between “rowdies” and other prisoners interrupted the daily routines of several, if not all, the camps. At the Gila River camp in Arizona, for instance, the editors of the center’s newspaper complained that zoot suiters had swiped all the chains from the laundry sinks to use as watch chains.
Here’s some news out of Russia that isn’t related the Olympics: Nadia Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina, who were recently released from prison, are no longer members of Pussy Riot, and it doesn’t look like the split was 100 percent amicable....more
You didn’t ask directly about gender, but I’ll answer anyway: I stuck with men for a more personal reason, which is that my experience as a child was with a female alcoholic and the subject was just too painful for me.
Ten years marks the “tin anniversary,” but lit-mag Barrelhouse is celebrating theirs in a different way: by starting a small press!
Two of Barrelhouse’s first titles are You’re Going to Miss Me When You’re Bored, a poetry collection by Justin Marks, and Thanks and Sorry and Good Luck: Rejection Letters from the Eyeshot Outbox, a nonfiction book by Lee Klein....more
In middle school, “Yo Mama” jokes infuriated me. My mother was so Chinese she couldn’t eat a hamburger without pinching her nose. She was so Chinese she wore bamboo slippers.
In a stunning essay for the Michigan Daily, Carlina Duan writes about growing up as the child of Chinese immigrants in America....more
As part of McSweeney’s long-running series “Open Letters to People or Entities Who Are Unlikely to Respond,” Summer Brennan wrote “An Open Letter to the Mix Tape Made for Me by My College Boyfriend, Now Deceased.”
It’s exactly as poignant and sadly funny as the title makes it sound, and in Brennan’s able hands, it becomes downright transcendent....more
Although plenty of critics and academics have done a wonderful job reinterpreting what it means to be “the canon,” there are still many readers in the US who, consciously or subconsciously, believe that men have contributed most of what we know to be literature.
D. Watkins is an adjunct professor. He doesn’t make much money, but most of his family and friends are even worse off, struggling with wrongful convictions, the impossibly high cost of health care, and the loss of loved ones to drugs and guns....more
It’s a truism among people who spend a lot of time online that you should never, under any circumstances, read the comments—especially not YouTube comments.
But when writer Mark Slutsky broke that rule, he found unexpected flashes of genuine emotion hidden in the cesspool of racial slurs and semiliterate rantings—memories of a deceased friend under a James Blunt song, for example, or a tribute to a young cancer survivor under her favorite Taylor Swift tune....more
There have been a lot of hand-wringing thinkpieces about Millennials in the media, but most of them are just wordy ways to say, “Kids these days.” As Mike Dang points out, these thinkpieces also fail to take race into account, which is a pretty big oversight considering Millennials constitute “the most ethnically and racially diverse cohort of youth in the nation’s history.”
Many Asian Americans are expected to regularly send money to their parents, sometimes even the entirety of their first paycheck....more
Literary magazine Armchair/Shotgun—winner of the 2012 Saboteur award, one of the New York Times Magazine‘s ten “literary heirs,” and subject of an upcoming Rumpus interview—is turning five years old!
Go celebrate with them tomorrow, February 7, at 7:30 PM at Brooklyn’s Greenlight Bookstore....more
If you liked David Biepsiel’s State of American Poetry address, here’s a nice counterpart by Natasha Trethewey at the Virginia Quarterly Review.
“Despair about the place of poetry in American culture is nothing new,” she begins, and goes on to write about the necessity and indelibility of poetry at the most basic levels:
For all of that, poetry is the corrective, the sacred language that allows us to connect across time and space, across all the things in everyday life that separate us and would destroy us.
In a luminous essay for the Morning News, Julia Phillips describes tagging along with the mushers of the Beringia, a Russian dogsled race that’s like the Iditarod but even more intense.
It’s a definite must-read in which Phillips deftly chronicles the simultaneous beauty and horror of half-wild dogs, a rainbow of Russian curses, the “mat of intimacies and betrayals” between contestants, and of course, the endless, unbelievable cold of the tundra....more