Bookmarked Oz Lit Teacher by an author
Narissa Leung shares a new project which involves sharing possible mentor texts. The concern is that although educators like Pernille Ripp share various suggestions, using them can overlook the local context. Some other useful sites to support searching for books include Kim Yeomans’ Wild About Books and Bianca Hewes’ Jimmy Reads Books. My only disappointment is that Leung is not collecting these in a central spot on the open web.
Bookmarked Was Shakespeare a Woman? (The Atlantic)

The authorship controversy, almost as old as the works themselves, has yet to surface a compelling alternative to the man buried in Stratford. Perhaps that’s because, until recently, no one was looking in the right place. The case for Emilia Bassano.

Elizabeth Winkler explores the authorship behind the work of William Shakespeare. She puts forward the case for Emilia Bassano. This lengthy piece provides an insight into exploring the past and why history is interpretative.
Liked What Is an Australian National Literature and Who Creates It? (Literary Hub)

Here’s a crazy thought. Could it be that whiteness, for David Malouf, is both blindingness and camouflage? That out of temperament, intuition, reflex, survival and ambition, he has suppressed his brownness—as his father suppressed his Arabic—in order to “pass” as white? This sounds preposterous, I know. And I’ll probably get in trouble for it. But the thought, once thought, is hard to unthink.

This is an extract from Writers on Writers: Nam Le on David Malouf. Published by Black Inc. in partnership with State Library Victoria and the University of Melbourne.
Replied to The Mueller Report Is Part Spy Thriller, Part Game of Thrones—With Footnotes (Slate Magazine)

Is it frivolous to evaluate the Mueller report’s entertainment value? Isn’t the legitimacy of the Trump administration enabling the cruelest abuses at the nation’s borders and threatening our democratic institutions? It is, but I’d argue that it makes sense to examine everything pertaining to the Trump administration in this light because Trump doesn’t operate under an ethos of governance, or even under an ethos of business. The only thing he is good at is entertainment; it’s what got him elected and has allowed him to commandeer the news cycle for four years.

Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. I find it interesting to consider the Mueller report as a piece of literature. At the very least it opens up the interpretative nature of it all.
Liked How The Very Hungry Caterpillar Became a Classic (The Atlantic)

Part of why both kids and parents love The Very Hungry Caterpillar is because it’s an educational book that doesn’t feel like a capital-E Educational book. Traditionally, children’s literature is a didactic genre: “It teaches something,” Martin says, “but the best children’s books teach without kids knowing that they’re learning something.” In The Very Hungry Caterpillar, she adds, “you learn the days of the week. You learn colors. You learn the fruits. You learn junk-food names. In the end, you learn a little bit about nutrition, too: If you eat a whole bunch of junk food, you’re not going to feel that great.” Yet, crucially, none of the valuable information being presented ever feels “in your face,” Martin says.

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.”

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.

Liked Meet the Man Who Introduced Jacques Derrida to America (Literary Hub)

The lore around Macksey and his library has an air of myth—some alumni describe knocking over a sheet of paper to discover original correspondence with D.H. Lawrence (who died the year before Macksey was born), while others swear there was an original Picasso sketch in his bathroom at one time. Four-foot Chinese scrolls, tiny model skeletons, antique theater binoculars. The valuable pieces are no longer in the house; they have been locked up in Special Collections on campus. One time during class, I myself picked up the nearest book and discovered it was an inscribed advance copy of his friend Oliver Sacks’ book, Seeing Voices. The objects in his house speak to his interests, which is to say he is interested in everything.

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 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