|—||Doris Lessing, A Proper Marriage (via speaklivewrite)|
Jonathan Franzen, Scratch Magazine
W O W (via annaverity) I have no words. Someone please say something eloquent.
Monstrous Regiment is one of my favorite books of all time. It gleefully subverts every gender norm in its path. Love it. Raid your local public library! Also, Emma, that is a flipping awesome tattoo.
Even ignoring the fact it’s by TERRY PRATCHETT who is an amazing human being, it’s pretty much the best thing ever.
- Strong female characters turning the damsel in distress trope on its head? check
- Addresses issues of gender roles/transgender/sexuality (but without making a big deal about it)? check
- Addresses the consequences of war and propaganda? check
- extremely funny but also deep? check
- MAINSTREAM FANTASY SERIES? check
I want more people to know about this book. It’s ten years old now and I think it is largely unheard of. Well, I think everyone should read it. Especially people who say they want to see more of things like this. Tumblr seems to have a community that is mostly supportive of feminism, GLBTQ, etc. Well go buy this book (and if you don’t want to give Amazon your money there are used copies but as we know, buying power is one way regular people can express approval or disapproval).
Side note: Yes this is considered part of the Discworld series, but it stands on its own; you don’t have to read any other Discworld books to enjoy this one (though the rest of the Discworld series is worth reading as well!) - this was actually the first Pratchett book I ever read, I picked it up at an airport because I needed something to get me through a five hour flight. I really don’t understand why Terry Pratchett is so little-known in the U.S. though.
I adore this book so much.
you know how people are like ooooh GRRM is sooo cool: he twists fantasy tropes and deconstructs classic archetype ooooo?
GRRM is a chump compared to Terry Pratchett.
Monstrous Regiment is all these fantasy band of brothers/classic questing group/girl dresses as boy to fight tropes twisted SO HARD you could scale a fortress wall with the rope it makes.
Igorina thays thith book ith fucking fantathtic
I could spend so much time talking about how much Terry Pratchett’s books have influenced my life.
But instead I will show you this:
Which is on my
leftright shoulder, and is replicating the Josh Kidby drawing of Commander Sam Vimes’s City Watch badge.
And Terry Pratchett isn’t perfect, and Sam Vimes is so far from perfect, but those books comfort me when I’m sad, and make me think deeply about things, and basically help me deal with how simultaneously amazing and shitty the human race can be.
So: go read as many of the Discworld books as you like or want, and then come back and talk to me about them, please.
|—||T.S. Eliot (via peterthewebslingerparker)|
Rare annotated first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
"…in this profession it’s a long walk between drinks." - Truman Capote
[N.B.: map drawn by an editor at W.W. Norton for a pub crawl for new sales representatives and it was too good not to share. The White Horse Tavern was a favorite of Dylan Thomas, Kettle of Fish a home away from home to many Beat poets.]
When do *we* get to go, Norton?!?
|—||Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland (via bookmania)|
Zadie Smith on her upcoming science-fiction novel in the London Evening Standard. Yes, you read that correctly, and her quote made me laugh. I have never found her one for plot, and that has been her strength and weakness, IMO. (via cloudunbound)
My literary crush is writing sci-fi. Hotness has just achieved critical levels.
For more of this morning’s roundup, click here.
House of Leaves - Kinetic Text
Eventual book club selection of the Word Virus Book Club. I’m simultaneously excited and scared.
Homilius recommended this book to me during my sophomore year in high school. I read it in an 18 hour marathon, and it became one of my all time favorites. It might be time for a reread.
She imagines him imagining her. This is her salvation.
In spirit she walks the city, traces its labyrinths, its dingy mazes: each assignation, each rendezvous, each door and stair and bed. What he said, what she said, what they did, what they did then. Even the times they argued, fought, parted, agonized, rejoined. How they’d loved to cut themselves on each other, taste their own blood. We were ruinous together, she thinks. But how else can we live, these days, except in the midst of ruin?
Sometimes she wants to put a match to him, have done with him; finish with that endless, useless longing. At the very least, daily time and the entropy of her own body should take care of it — wear her thread-bare, wear her out, erase that place in her brain. But no exorcism has been enough, nor has she tried very hard at it. Exorcism is not what she wants. She wants that terrified bliss, like falling out of an airplane by mistake. She wants his famished look.
|—||Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin (via jaimelannister)|
My father rediscovered one of his favorite books from high school this past weekend, while cleaning. It’s a collection of poetry, short stories, thoughts, essays, and one act plays by Woody Allen, published in 1972. The title is a play on Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is a thing with feathers.” It begins:
A BRIEF, BUT HELPFUL, GUIDE TO CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE….
‘In perpetuating a revolution, there are two
requirements: someone or something to
revolt against and someone to actually
show up and do the revolting. Dress is
usually casual and both parties may be
flexible about time and place but if either
faction fails to attend, the whole enterprise
is likely to come off badly.
The people or parties revolted against are
called the “oppressors” and are easily
recognized as they seem to be the ones
having all the fun. The “oppressors”
generally get to wear suits, own land, and
play their radios late at night without
being yelled at. Their job is to maintain
the “status quo”.
When the “oppressors” become too strict,
we have what is known as a police state,
wherein all dissent is forbidden, as is
chuckling, showing up in a bow tie, or
referring to the mayor as “Fats”. Civil
liberties are greatly curtailed in a police
state, and freedom of speech is unheard of,
although one is allowed to mime to a
After Dan from The Electric Typewriter asked me to put together a list of my favorite essays, I got a little overzealous. My master list was something like 37 essays before I narrowed it down to the ten he posted yesterday. Still, I made the list and it’d be a shame not to share them. Here they are, grouped loosely by subject and/or style.
Civil War Essays
“Whose Father Was He: Part 4” by Errol Morris
Includes Civil War love letters.
“How Slavery Really Ended in America” by Adam Goodheart
A brief history of contrabands,
“‘Ifs’ Defeated the Confederates at Shiloh” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Confederacy as evil empire.
“The Torture Colony” by Bruce Falconer
This is about a cult. It features the murder of Santa Claus.
“Innocence Lost” & “Innocence Found” by Pamela Colloff
Gut wrenching is really the only way to describe this.
“Into Thin Air” by John Krakauer
Don’t go too far up mountains.
“Raising the Dead” by Tim Zimmerman
Don’t go too far underwater.
Essays About Books
“All We Read Are Freaks” by William Bowers
This essay took me days and days to read, but it was worth it. Emily Dickinson & the Civil War & community college.
“Up All Night” by Sherman Alexie
Toni Morrison at sunrise.
“Eliot and the Shudder” by Frank Kermode
I just love a good George Eliot essay.
“Human, All Too Inhuman” by James Wood
I love this essay because☺—more than an act of critical analysis—it’s a look into the mind of a great reader as he grapples with what he’s reading.
“Two Paths for the Novel” by Zadie Smith
Which one will you take??
“The Urgent Matter of Books” by Lidia Yuknavitch
Sometimes it is just good to read a passionate diatribe about reading.
“A Bit of a Follow Up” by Roxane Gay
A classic R. Gay smackdown.
Essays on Interesting Subjects
“Balanced Diets” by Daniel Mason
On eating dirt, among other things.
“Generation Why” by Zadie Smith
“Slamming Open-Mike Poetry” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
On DC’s slam poetry scene.
“Our Technocratic Overlords” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
“Dear Amish Diaries” by Eve Kahn
On rhyming and the Amish.
“When I Got Cable” by Josh MacIvor Anderson
On being a child star and professional wrestling.
The Shining Tree of Life by Adam Gopnik
On Shakers and the trauma of hearing your parents have sex.
James Baldwin Gets His Own Category
“Notes of a Native Son” by James Baldwin
Essays about Magic
“Very Superstitious” by Colin Dickey
I love magic.
“Battle of the Manly Men: Blood Bath With a Message” by A.O. Scott
Just really deliciously negative.
“Atchafalaya” by John McPhee - This essay changed the way I felt about essays. I have always loved the form: it’s capacity for loopiness, it’s friendliness to digression, the space it made for beautiful language. But here, McPhee proves that the essay can do so much more: it can build worlds.
“Mister Lytle” by John Jeremiah Sullivan - There was a time in which I worked at a job that did not require me to do very much at all, and so I spent my time, tucked away in a tiny corner cubicle, reading. I cried when I read this, and my coworkers thought something terrible had happened to me, but it was just Mister Lytle, raccoon’s sharpened bone-penis and all. John Jeremiah Sullivan writes about the South like a native who’s stricken by amnesia: he has no shortage of not only familiar affection but also bewilderment, even wonder.
“What We Hunger For” by Roxane Gay - I’ve been reading Roxane Gay since she took on the overwhelming whiteness of the Best American Short Stories series in 2010 over at HTML Giant. (She was, delightfully, included in this past year’s edition.) However, this essay—one, if you follow Roxane’s work, you’ve probably read too—was a game changer. There are lines that when I reread them give me goosebumps. “Sometimes, when you least expect it, you become the girl in the woods” and “You think you are alone until you find books about girls like you.” How many girls thought they were alone until they found an essay like this one?
“Tiny Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed - I am a member of the church of Sugar. I regularly quote her in long, tough, sad conversations with my friends; and they quote her back at me. This essay of hers is one of the most important to me. (Little surprise: I have seen it make a whole room full of young women weep.) Everything in it, from “Stop worrying about whether you’re fat” to “Be brave enough to break your own heart,” from “Your book has a birthday. You don’t know what it is yet” to, especially, “Acceptance is a small, quiet room” speaks plainly and bravely and with heart. There is really nothing else like it.
“The Unlikely Influence of Dungeons & Dragons” by TNC - The reasons I love Ta-Nehisi Coates are too numerous to list here, but suffice it to say I’ve always felt he was a nerdy, inner-city kindred spirit: him reading the Monsters Manual in 1980s Baltimore, me reading Volo’s Guide to the Sword Coast in 1990s DC. I love this post (even though its really a transcript) in particular because he articulates what “high” and “low” culture have in common: beauty.
“The Death of the Moth” by Virginia Woolf - I read this in high school and it remains one of my favorite things by Virginia Woolf. It is aggressively lovely, a kind of poem. “What he could do he did. Watching him, it seemed as if a fiber, very thin but pure, of the enormous energy of the world had been thrust into his frail and diminutive body. As often as he crossed the pane, I could fancy that a thread of vital light became visible. He was little or nothing but life.”
“Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offences” by Mark Twain - There are few things in this world I love as much as a really (effectively) mean review, and this is perhaps the finest of the form. This take down of James Fenimore Cooper’s Deerslayer, which Mark Twain clearly loathed, is epic. “Personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others,” he explains, “this detail has often been overlooked” in Deerslayer.
“My Dungeon Shook” by James Baldwin - I love the love in this essay, the love and pain that seeps out of Baldwin’s letter: love for a brother, love for a nephew, pain for what the world has done to them, for what they have lost because of it. Here he says about his brother, “No one’s hand can wipe away those tears he sheds invisibly today which one hears in his laughter and in his speech and in his songs.”
“Chamber of Secrets: The Sorcery of Angela Carter” by Marina Werner - I love fairy tales, literary criticism, and sonorous, pulpy prose. This essay, about Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, has it all: “What reader does not explore with her these passages and woodland tracks? Who does not feel the Beast’s dark carriage like a hearse rumbling towards his eerily uninhabited domain? And who does not sense, through her powerful evocations, the pricking of thorns, the jaw-cracking stringiness of granny, the jangling of bed springs, the licking of a big cat’s tongue, the soft luxurious furs and velvets and skin, and the piercing contrasts with ice, glass, metal?”
“How Men Fight for Their Lives” by Saeed Jones - This is a story I first heard my friend Saeed tell at a party. He held the room with it, it tilted on his axis. It was supposed to be wild, something crazy and, because crazy, funny—but there was always this dark, unsettling thread running through it, even during his magnetic, hilarious jujitsu demonstration. Here the darkness is not a thread but the fabric. Who reading this hasn’t felt the same way, when Saeed says (my favorite line): “I need you to know that, in that unlit, wood-floored room, I was more interested in the story of my life than my life.”
Molly is amazing and you should read what she tells you to read.