An in-depth analysis of Watchmen and the conundrum of “adapting the unadaptable”:
The Establishment has a comprehensive survey of the history and evolution of queer YA literature (by an eighteen-year-old who can already write circles around most of the older writers on the internet). Want to know exactly when people stopped killing off their LGBTQ queer love interests (or at least stopped doing it as often)? Read to find out!
THR‘s rare interview with on and off-screen couple Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, which includes interesting analysis on the flipping of gender roles in The Americans and Rhys joking that real-life Keri Russell “doesn’t have the ice of Elizabeth — though sometimes she does.”
The hilariously terrible Suicide Squad has yielded some amusing zingers, from Forbes calling it “an all-out attack on the whole idea of entertainment” to SFGate describing it as “two hours of soul-sickening torment.” But the harshest indictment of our current blockbuster season comes from Indiewire, who says that between Suicide Squad, Jason Bourne, Independence Day: Resurgence, X-Men: Apocalypse, Warcraft, and more, “this is what plays in the multiplex in Hell.”
Heather at Go Fug Yourself posted an absolutely hilarious MST3K-style takedown of Vanity Fair’s dumb, sexist, Australia-stereotype-filled article about Margot Robbie. Don’t even bother reading the original — just read this.
Fun fact: Natalie Portman and Jonathan Safran Foer are longtime pen pals. Fun fact #2: Jonathan Safran Foer uses Hotmail to carry on this literary correspondence. The rest of the article is actually very interesting, but the Hotmail factoid made us laugh so hard. (via Nytimes)
The New Yorker hilariously satirizes all of the awkwardly misogynistic “thinkpieces” about female artists that have been skewered by several other outlets, most comprehensively by AV Club.
If you missed it last week, The Millions rounded up the most anticipated fiction books of the second half of the year. One highlight: the brilliant Michael Chabon is coming out with a new book! This week, they have a corresponding list for non-fiction.
At the Atlantic, read about how researchers have used sentiment analysis to analyze the emotional arcs of stories. It’s amazing how coherently many of the generated graphs hew to classic arcs identified by the researchers. (“Man in a Hole,” for example, sounds pretty much like the one we are all told to write in craft classes: things get worse, then finally they get better.)
Tracy Morgan returned to SNL after his accident last year, and this interview he did with the Times is beautifully emotional.
A few words from Toni Morrison on writing blackness in The Bluest Eye (via The Guardian):
She would not, she decided, try to “explain” black life to a white audience. She would not write from the position of outsider to her own experience. She took issue with, for example, the title of Ralph Ellison’s famous novel, Invisible Man; as she told the New Yorker in 2003, “Invisible to whom? Not to me.”
She wanted to write from within. It was the era of “black is beautiful”; everywhere she looked in New York, the black power movement was promoting that slogan. It struck her both as true – “of course” – and at the same time, ahistorical and reactive. “All the books that were being published by African-American guys were saying ‘screw whitey’, or some variation of that. Not the scholars but the pop books. And the other thing they said was, ‘You have to confront the oppressor.’ I understand that. But you don’t have to look at the world through his eyes. I’m not a stereotype; I’m not somebody else’s version of who I am. And so when people said at that time black is beautiful – yeah? Of course. Who said it wasn’t? So I was trying to say, in The Bluest Eye, wait a minute. Guys. There was a time when black wasn’t beautiful. And you hurt.”
These photos of retired trains are gorgeous and eerie.
Lithub published a conversation between Nicole Dennis-Benn and Chinelo Okparanta, two big new novelists who happen to both be black and LGBTQ. Their conversation is full of wisdom about writing and literature, including the role of race and representation in writing, as in the quotation below from Okparanta:
It seems to me that as writers we do have the right to tell any stories we want to tell. As fiction writers, we can make up anything we want and present it as something akin to fact. This is the power of fiction. But where national politics, racial agendas—those sorts of things—are concerned, it seems to me that we, as writers, should also be conscious of social consequence.
We’re very sad about losing Luke’s crinkly smile, but we agree with THR that by cutting Layla, Nashville is losing its most complex and interesting character, with the most potential for growth (she’s basically season one Juliette). We would also add that Layla finishing her arc as a manipulative, deceitful villain is borderline antifeminist, not to mention that she has the best voice of any actor on that show.
The British Library this week takes a look at WH Auden’s poems.
At We Minored in Film, Kelly Konda ponders the role of the thematically relevant backstory in survival stories.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote a delicious piece of what is essentially Virginia-Woolf-inspired fanfiction about Melania Trump for the NYT.
Happy Fourth of July! 12 authors, including Teju Cole and Jay McInerney, picked their essential American books for Time. What would you pick?
For those in NYC, happy Pride! Check out these photos from NYC Pride through the years at AMNY. It’s definitely cool to see the early days of the march, but 2013 is my favorite.
Probably the best-titled book list we’ve seen in awhile: the Millions has “A Summer Reading List for Wretched Assholes Who Prefer to Wallow in Someone Else’s Misery.”
The Times’s fashion photographer, Bill Cunningham, passed away recently and the Times has a moving obit.
And finally, Robert Downey Jr. shared this amazing wedding cake on his Facebook page.
There was a Friday Night Lights reunion in Austin. Where do Minka and Taylor think their characters are now? (at Vanity Fair via Lainey Gossip, which has lots of squee-worthy pictures of same.)
The New Yorker has a compelling piece on unREAL.
…beneath the giddy parody “Unreal” offers a singular meditation on stardom, media mendacity, sexism, and competition among women
The Bronte society is having some, errrr, issues (from the Guardian, via the Rumpus).
You’re the Worst‘s Aya Cash gives a typically funny and insightful interview with Indiewire. Give this girl all the Emmys!
An interesting piece from AV Club on the success of Scream and the curious subsequent disappearance of meta-horror. (But would Cabin in the Woods, You’re Next, and Tucker and Dale versus Evil have existed without Scream? Probably not.)
UnREAL: “Walter White in power heels: UnREAL is evil, twisted, unmissable TV” from The Guardian
Ploughshares takes a look at literary friendships throughout history. Didn’t know that Oscar Wilde inspired Count Dracula, but how PERFECT that he did!
The Tiny Doors art project in Atlanta shows you that “Not all doors need to be opened to be interesting” (via Atlas Obscura)
At The Millions, Kaulie Lewis writes about writerly jealousy. “When we say, ‘all of my ideas have already been had,’ what we’re expressing isn’t jealousy, it’s doubt in our own creativity, in our worthiness to write about anything at all.”
The New York Times writes a great article about the dystopian fiction of Middle Eastern writers.
The Millions has an essay on Ladislaw versus Lydgate, and Middlemarch‘s resistance to “good-on-paper” marriages.
Aww, Homeland’s not coming back till 2017.
(Spoilers for Me Before You below the cut…)
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At We Minored in Film, Kelly Konda writes about the women involved in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising who made it surprisingly feminist — including Chloe Grace Moretz herself.
Mario Vargas Llosa published an excellent essay on the value of literature at the New Republic. Yes, a million essays have been published on this topic. But few of them were by Nobel prize winners who have written so generously and expansively about the human condition as Vargas Llosa, who writes:
Literature says nothing to those human beings who are satisfied with their lot, who are content with life as they now live it. Literature is the food of the rebellious spirit, the promulgator of non-conformities, the refuge for those who have too much or too little in life.
Vulture writes about how The Mindy Project responded to critiques of its representation with the “Coconut” episode — and how Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt didn’t quite respond as well.
Nashville ended this week, presumably, though the #bringbackNashville campaign is still going strong on Twitter. (It also ended on a cliffhanger, with an alternate happy ending filmed just in case, and Lionsgate sounds very confident it will come back on another platform.) The Internet bid it a contingent goodbye with some fun thought pieces:
The AV Club wrote a fantastic article on how the Good Wife broke all the rules of TV legal dramas, and then broke itself. Also, the NYT did a great interview with Julianna Margulies and the Kings – though they got quickly shut down when they asked about Archie Panjabi!
Last week was Charlotte Bronte’s 200th birthday (read our piece on Villette here). Electric Literature ran an interesting piece (that we VEHEMENTLY disagree with) on rereading Jane Eyre and finding it somewhat less awesome.
We saw The Huntsman: Winter’s War last Friday. We were all really excited for it, and at least one of us was also pretty drunk, but we HATED it. Here are some takes from around the web:
Gizmodo says, “The fact that we get to see this pointless, silly movie made with an A-list cast… is one of the great marvels of our age.”
The Mary Sue laments that it’s “generic white male hero number eleventy five million.”
The Atlantic mourns the “bizarre camp classic that almost was.”