Posts Tagged: salon

Seriously, Though

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At Salon, Lydia Millet gets serious about sexism, climate change and extinction, and the literary establishment’s dismissal of funny books:

“Important” serious books often seem to be picked based on the simplicity and safety of their content as a barometer of upper-middle-class cultural preoccupation, and humor’s too complex and ambiguous to be a flagship like that.

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Indie Bookstore Road Trip

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Independent bookstores will save the world, or at least the publishing industry, maybe. Josh Weil and Mike Harvkey took a road trip across the country, exploring independent bookstores. They found a collection of dedicated shops and local literary communities, but that didn’t answer the fundamental question: how important are independent bookstores are to writers?

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Rewriting History

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Salon has published an excerpt from Edward E. Baptist’s new book about the relationship between slavery and the development of capitalism in America. In it, he identifies the ways in which the American master narrative has written slavery out of our nation’s history and denied the system of mass murder and suffering on whose back the land of the free was conceived:

It would have to avoid the old platitudes, such as the easy temptation to tell the story as a collection of topics—here a chapter on slave resistance, there one on women and slavery, and so on.

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Road Tripping for Inspiration

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“We’re doing this because we’re buds and we’re starting new books. We’ve always talked our ideas through with each other; it’s always helped. Through these conversations, we’ve grown as writers together.”

Josh Weil and Mike Harvkey have been longtime friends. Now, both with new novels on the way, they have embarked on a five day trip through America to talk about their writing.

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Out of the Binders and Into the Refrigerators

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The success of The Magicians trilogy stems in part from its self-awareness. Lev Grossman wields his familiarity with fantasy genre fiction to critique and alter the usual formula. So why do his female characters all serve the same purpose?

…he’d almost certainly be familiar with the infamous tradition of “Women in Refrigerators,” coined by comic fan Gail Simone in 1999: It means, basically, that female characters are often killed off or otherwise grotesquely traumatized (raped, tortured, paralyzed, stripped of superpowers, etc.) to motivate angst on the part of male leads.

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An End to Bookends

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At Salon, Molly Fischer criticizes the New York Times’s “Bookends” column, going so far as to suggest that the it be eliminated for good. She compares the question-and-answer formats — and the content of the prompts — as reminiscent of  high school English classes:

It’s not just the stiff phrasing (“What should we make of this?” “What’s behind the notion?”) that gives Bookends its blue-books-and-binder-paper feel.

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Don’t Throw the Clichés out with the Bath Water

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Most people think clichés aren’t worth a hill of beans, but over at Salon, Orin Hargraves says they just haven’t gotten a fair shake. Hargraves thinks clichés are just a red herring; if you want to make sure your writing really is one-of-a-kind, he has this advice:

The best way to free your speech and writing of unneeded and detrimental clichés is to construct it thoughtfully, paying close attention to the common tendency to insert a ready form of words in a place where it easily fits.

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Party of One

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Social media is a cruel machine, propelled by our desire to keep up appearances and affirmed by a strange, voyeuristic capital of likes and favorites. While Facebook can at times feel like a digital cocktail party devoid of any significant personal connection, Julia Fierro, author of Cutting Teeth, makes a case for its value to those who struggle with anxiety and loneliness:

It is socializing on my own terms.

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The Salinger Year

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My time at the Agency and reading Salinger brought me back to that state when you’re a kid or an adolescent – or just a person! – who reads for pleasure. I was able to go back to the pre-academic me who fully understood the actual pure power of literature to change a person’s life, to guide a person through life, or to allow a person to live fully.

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Love (or Something), Virtually

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And the winner of Best Opening Line Ever goes to: “I was a gay man playing ‘Warcraft’ as a beautiful woman, and he was a Mormon virgin. Our romance was a time bomb.”

Over at Salon, Elliot Glen tells the story of his pixel-mediated relationship with a callow, straight, Mormon virgin:

I first met SaltySaber in a dark and dangerous swamp, where he answered my desperate cry for help and rescued me from a gaggle of ruthless ghosts .

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Nothing New Under the Billboard

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With its clean, careful shots and enigmatic plot resolutions, Mad Men tends to inhabit a liminal narrative space, as if the same rules of decorum that govern its romanticized 60s society extend their authority to the show’s refined formal characteristics. This aversion to definitive conclusion is no accident: writing for Salon, Rebecca Makkai examines how the series recalls John Cheever’s iconic short fiction, which creator Matthew Weiner has listed as an influence:

I imagined all his stories to involve a businessman who got off the evening train drunk, stood in his yard peering in through the windows of his own house, and had some sort of sad revelation…[but instead,] in each story, a small world of alienation and humor and despair, a meditation on family or work, the city or the suburbs, travel or stasis, success or failure.

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