Liked Toni Morrison on ‘Beloved’ (Shondaland)

Beloved originated as a general question, and was launched by a newspaper clipping. The general question (remember, this was the early eighties) centered on how — other than equal rights, access, pay, etc. — does the women’s movement define the freedom being sought? One principal area of fierce debate was control of one’s own body — an argument that is as rife now as it was then. Many women were convinced that such rights extended to choosing to be a mother, suggesting that not being a mother was not a deficit and choosing motherlessness (for however long) could be added to a list of freedoms; that is, one could choose to live a life free of and from child- bearing and no negative or value judgment need apply.

An excerpt from the celebrated author’s latest book, “The Source of Self-Regard.”
Liked 10 Contemporary “Dickensian” Novels (Literary Hub)

So, despite the fact that it’s often inaccurate and reductive and possibly immoral, I understand why we like to call novels “Dickensian.” Over 200 years after the writer’s death, we’re just looking to recapture the feeling his canonical works gave us in some of our contemporary literature. If that sounds like something you’re interested in, some suggestions below.

Bookmarked The Trouble With Autism in Novels by an author (nytimes.com)

The disorder is poorly understood. Should novelists be able to make it mean whatever they want?

Marie Myung-Ok Lee reflects on the place of autism within literature and discusses some of the issues with this.

The crux of the issue is that with autism there is often, not metaphorically but literally, a lack of voice, which renders the person a tabula rasa on which a writer can inscribe and project almost anything: Autism is a gift, a curse, super intelligence, mental retardation, mystical, repellent, morally edifying, a parent’s worst nightmare. As a writer, I say go ahead and write what you want. As a parent, I find this terrifying, given the way neurotypical people project false motives and feelings onto the actions of others every day.

Interestingly, Myung-Ok Lee does not mention Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I remember reading Haddon’s thoughts on the matter in a review:

I think it’s true there are two types of kids as school. One type probably breezes through school like gazelles across the veldt. For the more troubled types on the edge of the playground, how you get from one day to the next is a mystery. All writers come from the latter, because only if you’re in that group does the working of the human mind become an object of interest.”

Bookmarked A New Approach for Listening by an author

I am not into frameworks so these are just suggestions for an approach to listening. It may not be rocket science but these are my thoughts…it starts with recognizing that our listening is limited by what we hear (how widely we are exposed to diverse ideas and how deeply we interact with them) and also how we hear (how open we are, how aware of our own biases and where others are coming from) and how we notice what we don’t hear (silence, between lines).

Maha Bali reflects on the different approaches to listening, including widely, deeply, openly, repeatedly, outside, inside, to silence, between the lines and to take action. On the flip side, Bali warns about lip service listening.
Liked WALL·E by an author (Typeset in the Future)

From a trash-filled Earth to the futuristic Axiom and back again, WALL·E is a finely crafted balance between consumerist dystopia and sixties space-race optimism. Please join me, then, for a detailed dive into the uniquely robotic future of a remarkably human film, as seen through the eyes of its eponymous hero, WALL·E.

Liked The Avid Reader: Helen Schulman on As I Lay Dying (Literary Hub)

More astonishing to me was that in mining his characters’ thoughts and private struggles, Faulkner used elevated maximalist language, the poetic and truest manifestation of these poor country people’s psyches and souls—and not the inarticulate staccato utterances that we hear realistically employed in active dialogue in scenes. This lashing together of characters and readers, through the tongues of the angels, is I think the most brilliant of all his moves. I felt as if knew each one to the marrow, their secrets and their sorrows, and most intriguingly to me their selfish inner motivations, the motors that made them run.

Bookmarked What the earliest fragments of English reveal (bbc.com)

The earliest fragments of English reveal how interconnected Europe has been for centuries, finds Cameron Laux. He traces a history of the language through 10 objects and manuscripts.

This collection of historical artefacts is insightful both from the perspective of language, as well as the origins associated with each. It seems that every piece involves some element of luck as to how it survived that it makes you wonder the texts that have been lost over time and how this may impact our appreciation of the past.
Bookmarked If you want to be a writer, you have to be a reader first by an author

It’s been said a million times — it’s one of the main points of my books Steal Like An Artist and Show Your Work! — and yet, it still seems to be controversial or confusing to young people who are starting out: If you want to be a writer, you have to be a reader first.

Austin Kleon provides a collection of quotes outlining the importance of reading before writing. It is interesting to think about this in regards to J. Hillis Miller’s argument that reading itself is an act of writing:

As we read we compose, without thinking about it, a kind of running commentary or marginal jotting that adds more words to the words on the page. There is always already writing as the accompaniment to reading.

Liked On Reading (Julian Stodd’s Learning Blog)

Reading is the process of gently breaking yourself: eroding dogma, undermining opinion, fracturing certainty. It’s a continual process of renewal: evaluating the things that we are sure are true, against new evidence that our certainty maybe unfounded, leaving us with the choice of growth, or stagnation. It’s an aggregated activity: we may not read one page that changes us, but the pages, in aggregate, change us immeasurably. If we are open to the opportunity.

Liked Opinion | The Writer Who Destroyed an Empire (nytimes.com)

All this would give the writer great satisfaction. But though feted and exploited by questionable allies, Solzhenitsyn should be remembered for his role as a truth-teller. He risked his all to drive a stake through the heart of Soviet communism and did more than any other single human being to undermine its credibility and bring the Soviet state to its knees.

Bookmarked Revisiting the Genius of Middlemarch by an author (Literary Hub)

Some great novelists, like Jane Austen, mostly absent themselves from their narratives. George Eliot is present everywhere in Middlemarch, often speaking in the first person. We are in the company of someone humorously wise. It is risky for a novelist to explain her characters’ behavior by making observations from life, but she does so with a subtlety that animates those characters rather than turning them into demonstrations.

I remember Middlemarch as being a novel of small things. I really should reread it as it has been a few years.
Liked A process for analytical writing… by an author

Bianca’s (uncomplicated) textual analysis process:

  1. Read the text carefully and highlight the bits that I think are really interesting and evocative (make me imagine people, places, situations or think about big ideas).
  2. Under each human experience rubric heading (see table given in class) write one or two things that I found in the text. These become sub-headings under the main rubric headings.
  3. I then number each thing I’ve found (e.g. ‘1. Striving for authenticity’) and then go through my highlighted bits in the text and put the relevant number beside it. (i.e. the quote(s) I highlighted that best evidences ‘striving for authenticity’).
  4. I type up the quotes under the headings/sub-headings in a new document. For each quote I try to identify what device is being used by the composer to communicate the idea and add this beside it. This isn’t always something you can put your finger on in the example, like a metaphor or simile, but could be something broader like characterisation, structure, perspective or narrative voice that the example shows.
  5. For each piece of evidence, I think about why the identified device is effective at making the reader think about the identified idea in the subheading, and why the composer would want me to think about that idea, or feel a particular emotion, or imagine a particular situation etc. This is about the purpose and the effect of the device used to create meaning.
  6. Once I have all of this information, I start to write. Usually I write in IDEA sentences (it is natural for me now and allows me to say more in less words) but not always, so don’t confine yourself to a formula.
Liked The Last Days of George Orwell by an author (Literary Hub)

Nineteen Eighty-Four was due out in June. Terrified by its dystopian reality, his publisher told Muggeridge that booksellers who read it claimed to be too scared to sleep at night

From Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time. Courtesy of Knopf. Copyright © 2018 by Hilary Spurling.
Liked What James Baldwin and J.M. Coetzee Tell Us About History and Home by an author (The Offing)

Baldwin and Coetzee, with their lives and their novels, help to illustrate the unburiedness of national trauma, the ways that collective wounds trickle into the individual psyche, and ultimately just how essential it is to come face to face with history in order to enable true, sustaining reconciliation. It is impossible to divorce ourselves from history; but perhaps our intertwining with its painful legacies keep us committed to altering its course for posterity’s sake