Svetlana Mintcheva, writing for Salon, manages to tackle the Great Lionel Shriver Internet Meltdown without herself melting down, articulating a nuanced but still socially responsible take on the responsibilities of fiction writers:
Whether they succeed in communicating empathy and in creating a character that is complex and true, depends on the capacity of the writer as a writer and his or her creative integrity, not on the person’s skin color, sexuality or cultural background.
Do you follow Rabih Alameddine (author of one of my favorite-ever female fictional characters) on Twitter yet? The New Yorker wrote an interesting piece about his process.
Not technically a pop culture related piece, but by one of our favorite novelists: Michael Chabon wrote a devastatingly beautiful piece about his teenage son’s love for fashion, for GQ.
In case you missed it, the New York Times published an exquisitely mean review of a new Jane Jacobs biography, including jabs like this:
It often seems to be muttered as much as written, like one of those garbled subway announcements you cannot understand but suspect might matter.
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.