Jun 25, 2013

Mostly Pilfered Links

I’ve been feeling the urge to blog lately, and since the past six years taught me that motivation ebbs and flows, it’s best to make the most of these waves while they last. Unfortunately I have a busy week ahead of me, so my thoughts on Rose Under Fire and Americanah (finally) are going to have to wait, as will my post about my current quest for personal essays. In the meantime, I thought I’d share a couple of interesting things I read recently and have been thinking about:

  • Via Charlotte: One final Diana Wynne Jones novel to be published in 2014. So many feelings. And of course this quote Bookshelves of Doom shared made me tear up.

  • Via Clare: I really liked Tim Kreider’s essay “I Know What You Think of Me”, especially this bit:
    We don’t give other people credit for the same interior complexity we take for granted in ourselves, the same capacity for holding contradictory feelings in balance, for complexly alloyed affections, for bottomless generosity of heart and petty, capricious malice. We can’t believe that anyone could be unkind to us and still be genuinely fond of us, although we do it all the time.
    This is a perfect example of why I need all the personal essays in my life.
  • Via Jodie: “On Coverflipping, Misogyny, and, Oh Yeah—How You and I Are Part of the Problem”. The kind of conversation I want to have about these things is one that acknowledges how we should be deconstructing the gendering of certain aesthetic preferences, and the prestige and lack thereof associated with that. This post does a wonderful job of addressing this.

  • Via Renay, and on a related note, a glorious smackdown of the idea that YA is tragically lacking in “boy stuff”:
    Boys don’t start out believing that they can’t relate to girls, or that romance is sappy and beneath them. They’re not born with the idea that sex is a game or they’re “naturally” better at certain things. We feed them that. And we continue to feed it to them every time we huff about there being no “boy stuff” in YA, which is a flat-out, complete and total lie.
  • Via Ana, an excellent interview with Bennett Madison about September Girls, authorial intent, sexuality and gender roles, and writing for young people. Favourite bit:
    One of the biggest challenges I always find myself facing is the challenge of deciding how much to say explicitly and how much to leave open to interpretation, and I’ll admit that when forced to choose between perfect clarity and ambiguity, I often err on the side of the latter. Ultimately, that’s just who I am as a writer.

    To me it’s better to try to say something and fail to say it in a way that everyone will understand than it is to avoid saying that same thing because I’m assuming my audience isn’t sophisticated enough for it. Pandering to an imagined audience of people who will get the “wrong” message is more than just an insult to my readers– it’s ignoring my responsibilities as a writer.
    Ana has kindly lent me her copy of the book, and I can’t wait to read it and see on which camp I fall.

  • This is one of my favourite xkcd strips in recent times.

  • Seeing a new review pop up at Eve’s Alexandria is always a treat, but that's especially the case when it’s an in-depth review of a book I love. Here's Nic on Black Juice.

  • Because I’m ridiculously excited about seeing them tomorrow, I thought I’d point you towards Heather Browne on The National’s Trouble Will Find Me (I so wish I could write about music). Also, who knew I could so enjoy an essay on hating a band I love? If I hadn’t already read and loved Carl Wilson’s book, I’d be seeking it out now.

  • Lastly, this post made me happy and sad. Happy because it perfectly exemplifies everything I was saying last week (and two years ago); sad because it’s a little heartbreaking that he doesn’t get to see the smiles — as a fan, they’re all I see. But thankfully the Internet is here to make them shareable after the fact.


  1. Ahhh you're seeing The National! Enjoy...I love them and their new album is still worming its way inside my brain the way their albums tend to do.

  2. Enjoyed reading your post, Ana! I loved the passage that you have quoted from Tim Kreider's essay. So beautiful and very true! I can't wait to read your post on your quest for personal essays! Looking forward to it! That passage on YA literature that you have quoted made me smile :) When I started out reading, I read a lot of classics, which we can probably call YA or children's literature - like R.M.Ballantyne's 'The Coral Island' and 'Treasure Island' and 'Kidnapped' by R.L.Stevenson. These days most YA novels are written by women writers (and sometimes by male writers) with main characters who are young women and so I can understand why some people might feel that it is lacking in 'boy's stuff'. But personally, I am not complaining. I read a YA book occasionally and it is typically by a woman writer and I am amazed at the themes and the issues that the book explores - love, life, death, music, travel, conflict between religion and science - the themes are infinitely various and are fascinating and thought-provoking and the books are very enjoyable to read. If today's boys are not reading it, they are missing a lot.

  3. The only part of that smackdown I much believe is that there are "other elements at work here." I read so little of this kind of thing from the viewpoint of feminist mothers of boys, and I think there's a reason for that--we can't figure it out and articulate it.

  4. I have all the feelings about the Diana Wynne Jones book. I want it to be wonderful and I fear it will not be wonderful. Or that it will and I will be even sadder then because it is her last-ever book and I didn't love it enough.

    (I feel that way about Earwig and the Witch.)

  5. Thanks for linking to that essay on coverflipping. I enjoyed looking at the contributions, but I did have some niggling thoughts similar to what Jodie wrote.


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