The act of anointing Joan Didion as our favorite, our best, our everything, is the act that reveals what we’re trying to say: that we’re cool, that we’re educated, that if we are not young and white and slender and well-dressed and disaffected and sad and committed to the art of writing as an arduous and soul-sucking process that must be endured yet Instagrammed simultaneously, then we will be, at least, as close as possible to those identifiers even if it kills us.
Posts Tagged: the awl
Over at The Awl, Josephine Livingstone treats us to poetics on the colorful sounds of precipitation:
Actual rain falling on my urban windows was, however, just too good to miss. I have lived on three continents and my family comes from a fourth: these circumstances have forged in me a deep and abiding attachment to environmental constants.
Why do readers love to hate the Times’s Style section? While many of its trend pieces are guilty of the same transgressions committed elsewhere in mainstream media, a history of misogyny and homophobia directed at lifestyle journalism suggests our contempt goes beyond objective criticism:
Far from detailing the paper’s ignominious decline into muddy ethical waters and vacuous intellectual territory, the history of style reporting at the New York Times actually exposes some of the nastiest truths about misogyny and homophobia in the mass media: their intensity, their unbelievable durations (by which I mean “totally believable”), their active contemporary manifestations, and the role audiences play in perpetuating them.
Story|Houston published a beautiful story this week in their Fall 2014 issue, all of which centers around the theme of family, functional or otherwise. “Termites” tells the story of Tamara, aka Tam or Tam-Tam, a youngish woman living in and trying to take care of/sell her family’s childhood home on Staten Island....more
Over at The Awl, Heather Havrilesky, a writer without an MFA, has some humorous and candid freelancing tips for her MFA students and us readers. Havrilesky knows we’ll appreciate this advice, since she’s “one of the only writers [her] students know who earns actual legal tender from her writing—instead of say, free copies of Ploughshares”:
It’s annoying, to have to take time out of my incredibly busy writing schedule in order to spell it all out for young people, just because they spend most of their daylight hours being urged by hoary old theorists in threadbare sweaters to write experimental fiction that will never sell.
When listening to a song, it becomes possible to slip out of reality and into a more idealized state as Chris Wallace writes in “Your Selfie Realization.”
The trouble sets in when the fantasy self does not leave. As Wallace describes, it is possible to spend most of one’s time imagining an alternate reality....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.
Shortly after moving to New York, writer C. D. Hermelin decided to try a cool busking experiment: he’d sit out in parks with an old typewriter and compose on-the-fly stories for passersby, asking them to donate what they could.
It was a lot of fun—until someone posted a picture of him online and the Internet exploded into vitriolic rage at the existence of a “hipster.”...more
Once you train yourself to spot errors, you can’t not spot them….You notice typos in novels, missing words in other magazines, incorrect punctuation on billboards. You have nightmares that your oversight turned Mayor Bloomberg into a “pubic” figure.
Jim Behrle has a satirical and biting take on the practicality of creative writing programs at The Awl this week.
Not only does he urge students to refrain from digging themselves into a hole of student loan debt, but he also recommends that there be fewer workshops and more classes on sharpening charisma, grant writing and accounting....more
MOOC’s are a word for forgetting that universities have never grown without being planted, for trusting that just as students can teach themselves, universities will magically grow themselves, too.
In the 21st century, many universities have been changing their game and debilitating higher education by turning it into a corporate ordeal....more
Though the Internet these days isn’t the Wild West it once was, there’s still plenty of vigilante justice going on, from the outing and firing of the man responsible for subreddits like /r/jailbait and /r/creepshots to Jezebel’s public shaming of racist teenagers....more
How do we respond to art that seeks us out rather than the other way around?
Whether it’s a storytelling mural, a simple tag on a trashcan, or more performative, like that guy in San Francisco who does a one-man show in his “television”, we encounter public art on a regular basis....more
“For the shy and passive aggressive, blackmail might be the perfect means of control. Hone your blackmailing chops and you can utilize them in a range of scenarios: betrayal, revenge, moral castigation (theirs, not yours).”
The Awl is in the midst of a two-week series on “the pull of bad influences in our lives and in the culture.” Jane Hu shares a history of blackmail....more
Quoting writers from Alexander Pope to Jonathan Franzen, Hu argues that the apparently ever-progressing “death” of the book review is perhaps a more nuanced process than it first appears:
“Perhaps a large problem in the decline of good criticism is that readers no longer know how, or where, to find critics, and, more importantly, how to define what makes it Good.”
Hu’s essay is in some aspects a continuation of the narrative established in Elizabeth Gumport’s 2011 essay “Against Reviews” for N+1, an impassioned argument for a complete rethinking of the form and its uses....more
At The Awl, Lucy Madison breaks down the many numbers, ratios, and biases behind the absence of women nominees in the National Magazine Awards’ major “brass-ring” categories.
“As far as the ASME awards go, women are unlikely to see a huge jump in nominations unless editors either start changing the process through which they assign out pieces, or more outlets exist for general interest long-form journalism targeted at women.”...more
At The Awl, Maria Bustillos takes a closer look at romance novels, characterizing the genre as “underground writing,” while wondering what makes literature “trivial”?
“There are distinct advantages in this poor-cousin status. Here is a literature entirely without pretense; its authors are guileless, since they needn’t conform to any external ideal of literary performance....more
This new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research has been getting major press attention. At The Awl, Maria Bustillos questions the merit of the study and its efforts to “identify and fire ‘weaker’ teachers, for the sake of a barely perceptible increase in students’ ‘lifetime income.’” Bustillos also contrasts the successes of the Finnish school system and U.S....more
The Awl interviews Jeanne Kelly, “a visual artist with a background in forensic art,” about her Kickstarter proposal that went unfunded. The project was inspired by Victorian human skulls from the Mutter Museum. After selecting eight people (one of whom died of self-inflicted castration), Kelly researched their lives and spun them into possible narratives....more