Lit-Link Round-up


Neil Gaiman on why our future depends on libraries, reading and writing, in The Guardian.

The history of the dystopian novel.

Submit to the Danahy Fiction Prize at the University of Tampa.

David Michael Lukas on “when the news and the novel collide” in the NYTimes.

An intimate look at sexual inorgasmia: Sunday alum Cris Mazza on Dr. Love.

My husband sends me funny memes like this one.  Clearly he has too much time on his hands.

The great Laura Bogart, one of my favorite young essayists, returns with “Peep Show.”  I hope to have Laura back with us some Sunday soon.

Congrats to the finalists in Chicago’s Guild Complex prose awards.

10 novels written in the 70s that are loved even more today.

This essay in Salon, from a pregnant woman who aborted after realizing her baby would have cystic fibrosis, raises so many challenging issues.  As is always the case at Salon, the comments section includes a fair dose of batshit hate, but/and there are also a lot of adults with CF speaking out about their experiences, which is interesting because this isn’t a condition covered  much in the media, despite its prevelance.  My novel, A Life in Men (coming in Feb from Algonquin), is about a woman traveler who has cystic fibrosis.  I don’t have the disease, so I had to do a lot of research, reading medical resource books and journal articles and self-help guides and blogs.  This really seems to be a community at the cutting edge of controversy in terms of genetic testing, because unlike some other genetic diseases (see Emily Rapp’s impassioned “fuck you” to Rick Santorum in Slate about her son’s Tay-Sachs) the prognosis isn’t a set one.  The fact that there are now 50something CFers running half-marathons can lead people to feel much less empathic towards a woman who aborts a fetus with CF…but of course the truth is that there are still many children dying of the disease.  There are also many children who die everyday in accidents and from illnesses randomly contracted, that could not have been “screened out” with an amnio.  Life is risk.  Still, does that mean that parents should be “forced” to sign up for being at greater risk than others for having a baby who will not live past childhood?  What must it feel like to be an adult with CF who reads this essay?  I remember once being at a party at which one of my women friends, who had never been raped, was passionately insisting she would rather be dead than raped.  Truth be told, she was pretty drunk, but she is also a person prone to making impassioned proclamations in public.  What I can tell you about that party is that, as at any party in the entire universe, there were women in attendance who had been raped.  My un-raped friend was standing there insisting that she would rather die “unviolated” and “intact” than allow that power to be taken away from her.  I believe at one point she actually said she would rather be “murdered” than raped, which muddled the argument quite a bit because clearly being murdered is…well…also having one’s power taken away and being…uh…violated.  I remember being confused and wishing she would shut up, because our mutual friend had been raped only a couple years prior but the woman talking didn’t know about it because our mutual friend is not prone to public speeches or big disclosures.  According to stats, something like 1 in 4 women is a victim of some kind of sexual assault in their lifetime, which is not always the precise same kind of rape my friend was referring to, but is a lot of freaking people on this planet.  And that on some level a woman saying she would rather be dead than raped is like saying that all these women would be better off dead–if you extrapolate it far enough, if you were my friend who has been raped and the woman next to you was saying this at a party, maybe you would be thinking, This bitch thinks my life is so degraded that I would be better off committing suicide.  Maybe you are someone who has been raped and you are in so much emotional pain that you have thought of committing suicide, and now you are at a party and some other woman, her unviolated body intact, is pretty much telling you that she would rather not exist than be you.  If all the women on this planet who had ever been raped were suddenly sucked up into the ethersphere–say in some Rapture-like scenario–there probably isn’t anyone on earth who wouldn’t lose someone they love.  Depending on the definition this hypothetical Rapture would be using for “rape,” my mother would be gone.  I might be gone.  More of my intimate women friends would be gone than not.  I should stipulate here that I keep using the word “woman” for people who are raped, but of course there are thousands and thousands of boys and men, enough to populate a country, who would be sucked up and disappear too, and on top of all the usual shame and anger and trauma they also probably feel invisible because nobody ever talks about them unless it’s in conjunction with the Catholic church.  I have a lot of empathy for a pregnant woman who doesn’t want to sign up to watch her child suffer and die.  There are circumstances, like the ones Rapp wrote of, where I would make the same choice.  Another part of me wanted to tell the Salon author to shut up and sit down.  That there are people at this party who are facing things she can’t even imagine, and that her words are offensive to them.  But that part of me that wanted to say that would be wrong, because a world where writers never say anything offensive or threatening or controversial would be the wrong world to live in.  Aborting your CF fetus may be a nebulous moral connundrum but being able to write honestly about your experience isn’t one.

The “It’s Your Fault” video addresses (humorously, sadly) still-prevailing victim-blaming in rape cases.

I’m trying to figure out a way that anyone with CF who wants to read my novel can have a copy for free, but I don’t know the best way to go about it.

Gina Frangello is the author of four books of fiction and a forthcoming memoir, Blow Your House Down. Her novel A Life in Men (Algonquin 2014) is currently under development by Netflix as a series produced by Charlize Theron’s production company, Denver & Delilah. Her most recent novel, Every Kind of Wanting (Counterpoint 2016) was included on several “best of” lists for 2016, including Chicago Magazine’s and The Chicago Review of Books’. She has nearly 20 years of experience as an editor, having founded both the independent press Other Voices Books, and the fiction section of the popular online literary community The Nervous Breakdown. She has also served as the Sunday editor for The Rumpus, and as the faculty editor for both TriQuarterly Online and The Coachella Review. Her short fiction, essays, book reviews, and journalism have been published in such venues as Salon, the LA Times, Ploughshares, the Boston Globe, BuzzFeed, the Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post, Psychology Today, and in many other magazines and anthologies. After two decades of teaching at many universities, including UIC, Northwestern’s School of Continuing Studies, UCLA Extension, the University of California Riverside Palm Desert, Roosevelt University, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College Chicago, Gina is excited to be a student again at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Program for Writers, where she has returned to complete the PhD she left unfinished twenty years ago. More from this author →