Recently, Jessa Crispin shocked the literary world by announcing she would be closing Bookslut, the literary blog she started fourteen years ago. Since then she has stirred some controversy, calling the Paris Review “boring as fuck” (the Paris Review took the critique in stride, offering a 10% discount with the code BORINGASFUCK) and attacking online literary culture for being overly positive....more
Posts Tagged: bookslut
Well the only reason Bookslut was interesting was because it didn’t make money, and when I realized the sacrifices I was going to have to make in order for it to make money, it wasn’t worth it. It used to be you could get an advertiser for a month; now it’s all directly linked to how many pageviews you get.
As the value of an individual book is devalued, so is the self. We are made to feel that it’s only through constant communication with a community that we have any collective power.
How has the immediacy of the Internet changed how we absorb information?...more
Hawthorne inspired and reinforced Melville’s conviction to elevate the writing of Moby-Dick beyond any of the parameters he had previously explored with his earlier work.
At the Los Angeles Review of Books, editor and founder of Bookslut.com Jessa Crispin writes on feminism in its contemporary incarnation by way of two recent critiques of 50 Shades of Grey. She draws a distinction between feminism (a discourse) and feminism (a table-turning form of social domination) wherein “The bullied become the bullies [and the] abused become the abusers.”
Any sort of societal critique is thrown at a patriarchal straw man, as if all we have to do is get 50 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs to be female and an equal number of female bylines at The New York Times to have a better world.
At Bookslut, Julie Phillips writes about how Ursula K. Le Guin, who has worked largely in science-fiction and fantasy, deserves a place in the literary canon.
Her work is shaped by the books of Italo Calvino and Virginia Woolf, and it’s had an outsize influence on writers like Junot Díaz and Michael Chabon, whose artistic gravity no one questions....more
“The Contemporary Male Novelists fear the Female Reader is no longer willing to interpret rampant misogyny as searing self-portraits of mangled masculinity, but rather as just more misogyny and who needs it? Their livelihoods threatened, the CMNs are doing the utmost in their narratives to tell the imagined female reader that they are at least hyperaware of their own utter self-absorption....more
Greer Mansfield of Bookslut checks out the Modernist Journals Project, a literary site launched in 1995 by Brown University that acts as a digital library of magazines associated with Modernism.
The Modernist Journal Project contains a wide variety of oft-written about Modernist periodicals like The Egoist and The English Review amongst others that were associated with a particular movement; all of which are brimming with literary celebrity....more
“The guidebook I researched last winter was never published, put on hold when the Arab Spring surged into Libya that February. I was writing a guidebook to a country that no longer exists; a country where busloads of Italian tourists gathered around hotel buffets; where billboards advertised the Qaddafi brand—forty-one years, they sang, the leader’s face peering down at the cars on the highways like that of a god who thought he created them....more
“The concept of the ‘individual’ has been born during these revolts. At the same time, tribal structures and ethnic traditions will not simply disappear. Tribal culture will have to enter into a modern framework and that is very complicated but individualism is here to stay.”
In this interview, Moroccan-born novelist and poet Ben Taher Jelloun opens up about the Arab Spring, the challenges of post-dictatorship nations, and the anticipation of a “creative boom.” Jelloun discusses the importance of Arab writers’ visibility in Europe, distinguishes between revolution and revolt, and speaks on writing from Gadhafi’s perspective....more
Bookslut zeroes in on the seemingly perpetual obscurity of women’s work in the arts. Looking at artists like Lee Krasner, Leonor Fini, and Mina Loy,—the spaces and roles that they were pushed into, along with the often intangible forms of sexism confronted—the piece wonders how to “restore women to the historical record without getting out a glue stick and pasting some women into History of Art?”
“Greatness does need a little nurturing, a little structure and room to try and fail....more
All hacking aside, are we not all snoopers? This interview with Jonathan Keates tackles “great letter writers”—Lord Byron, Stendhal, Queen Victoria, Henry James, Evelyn Waugh—and the legacy of their correspondences. He also ruminates on the death of “the letter as a physical phenomena,” and fantasizes about its rebirth:
“There may come a time when the world goes “pop”, electronically, and we have to start again with our hands, and with sticks of charcoal on leaves, and make papyrus all over again....more
This essay considers that question, and takes notice of that pressure on travel writers to “create a personal arc of transformation,” pointing out that despite the expectation that travel will transform, “no one ever says who travelers are supposed to be turned into.”
“There are things that extensive travel teaches you, such as how not to be afraid, or at least how to tell the difference between times you should have fear and times there’s no need for it…....more
Looking back at 80s media, this video curated essay examines the meaning of difference in Miami Vice, Pretty in Pink, and Ferris Bueller, through the lens of author Mash Tupitsyn’s own coming of age.
Reflecting on her motivations for identifying with gender-bending as a young girl, she writes, “We thought images were the road to adulthood and independence....more
Perhaps you have thought about what you would take and where you would go if forced to flee the country because of your communist beliefs?
In honor of Pablo Neruda’s birthday, Daybook describes the poet’s flight from Chile to Argentina. Traveling by packhorse with a bottle of whiskey, typewriter, and unfinished Canto General in tow, Neruda somehow survived the trek over the Andes....more
Where are the books about mistresses? Bookslut’s Jessa Crispin writes about the lacking mistress narrative, defending the other woman and scrutinizing her treatment in society as undermining that traditional institution that tons of Americans love (marriage).
“The woman is supposed to tend to her own nest, that’s her nature, and so with the mistress there must be something damaged, something sick, some as-yet unknown or diagnosed personality disorder warping her feminine desires, or else why go after another woman’s husband?”...more
“The point is that while we cherish open-ness or dialogue, we relish our closed structures and cordoned-off and privileged hallways. Academic blogging, to this graduate student, was a way out of this clubbiness.”
Bookslut’s interview with historian Manan Ahmed praises academic blogging and encourages historians to partake in the dialogue....more
What’s the difference between a literary journal and a mayfly? The literary journal’s reputation for short lifespans might not be justified.
According to Daniel Nester and Steve Black, authors of the article “Here Today, Here Tomorrow: On the Lifespan of the Literary Magazine,” literary journals are actually far more resilient than you may think....more
The founding editor of Bookslut offers an eclectic selection of books that might help us confront our own deeply American sense of political alienation.
One of them I especially want to read: Avoiding Politics: How Americans Produce Apathy in Everyday Life by Nina Eliasoph, a book title that speaks to the person inside of me who would prefer to stay home all day, read books and update my Facebook account instead of having to confront the brutalities that my privileged repose rests upon....more
“Only with the relatively recent shift from off-the-land foraging to agriculture did our species veer away from cooperation and sharing, even sharing of mates, in small groups; hierarchy, sexual repression and violence may pass for the human normal nowadays, but it wasn’t always so.”
At Bookslut, a detailed discussion of the points made in the new anthropological/scientific polemic Sex At Dawn, a book that sounds like a must-read for anybody eager to slough off tired, old nuclear-Victorian-Reagan-era repression....more
“Here I am wanting some other language to rescue me, wanting some escape route, when the very desire to transform, to mean something in the world, to take to the air, is such a chubby little caterpillar urge. If I were only a bit older and sadder, a bit more eager to trot out pleasant prose, would I soon be puttering around Provence, writing some whimsical foodie memoir and chuckling about the locals?...more
Good things happen when people who grow up listening to Thriller become poets.
There’s going to be a new Bukowski exhibit down Southern California way, including his “annotated racing forms” that will teach you his system for playing the horses.
Jason Pinter takes on the idea that men don’t read....more
My relationship with the book blogs has hit a snag. Today, we got in a throw-down fight, and I came pretty close to breaking some china.
It’s just that the blogs whine and worry and complain a lot, and they always seem to want to cheat on me with famous writers, like Martin Amis or David Foster Wallace or Marquis de Sade, and then it rubs off on me, and I end up whining and worrying and complaining more than they do, and then I stop liking myself....more
“When you’re not religious, sacredness means something that fills you with awe.
The creation of something awe-striking requires a pure offering, an opening up to the universe. It’s not always an act of risk, that could land you “in the clink” or with a broken body or with your blood trickling out onto the sidewalk, but it’s always an act of uncertainty, of changing molecules into something that wasn’t there before....more
“When I first read E.B.White, I was brand new to reading and brand new to life. It didn’t occur to me that he was some man, that his characters were invented in his head, or based on himself, or based on the people he knew....more
“I’m so, so tired of reading about how writing should be demystified, how it doesn’t work the way Cortazar describes at all, how you toil at it slowly like you’re scrubbing a toilet, how the important parts are rewriting everything (preferably with the help of a gaggle of fellow workshop women) and killing your darlings and not getting personally attached to your work, how “good rejection letters” are a cause for celebration, and how you should take a class at Mediabistro or teach one at Barnes and Noble.”
At Bookslut, Elizabeth Bachner, true to form, has a long, thoughtful and lyrical essay about Michael Greenberg’s new book, the work of Julio Cortazar and how we’ve compromised the magic of writing to our own detriment....more