Gems recently unearthed from my online reading include:
George Saunders on what writers really do when they write is, hands down, the best description I’ve read of the writing process.
If you somehow missed the news, The Handmaid’s Tale is being newly adapted for television and is back on bestseller lists. Here’s Margaret Atwood on what her seminal novel means in the age of Trump.
I saw Get Out over the weekend.This movie works because it’s not only a chilling and entertaining horror movie, but it also comments in a meta way on the tropes of horror movies while exposing the societal issues we truly fear, which is what good horror should do. Here’s an interesting analysis on how Get Out exposes the myth of a postracial America, but beware–it has spoilers galore, and it’s best seeing this movie without know much about it.
Ever wonder why you never hear about Midwestern literature in the same sense as the Southern novel or the Western? I enjoy reading books with a strong sense of place. But I must confess that while I avidly track my reading of Southern, Western, and New England literature, and I can easily see the themes and connections running through those books, I never track my Midwestern reading. It just doesn’t seem to hold as much interest for me, as the Midwest doesn’t seem to be as much of a “character” as these other region are. Why literature and pop culture still can’t get the Midwest right.
The Women’s March was truly inspiring. I took part in my own small way. Our small North Carolina town had 1,500 people turn out. I was gobsmacked, because we are just not that big a town. There were 17,000 people marching in Raleigh. Here are some wonderful photos of the marchers around the world. What I loved about this protest is how positive it was, to counteract the terrible negativity we’ve been seeing from elected officials; women and men from all backgrounds came together in solidarity, to support one another, and to start building a movement, rather than to tear down.
The news this week has not been so inspiring, I’m sorry to say, but in troubled times, people always turn to literature. Literature gives us a blueprint for how to deal with life, and that’s why telling stories is so important. One such story is George Orwell’s 1984, which is selling out this week in response to the newly coined phrase “alternative facts.” 1984 is a touchstone book for me; here’s what I wrote about it a few years ago, also in response to the political climate. Now, unfortunately, Orwell’s vision seems even more prescient.
For those of you who, like me, feel somewhat overwhelmed by current events, this article is a must-read: “How to #StayOutraged without Losing Your Mind.” There is some important advice here–follow it.
And now, a ray of sunshine–more great news in overdue filmed adaptations: Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens is being adapted as a limited series by Amazon, joining American Gods on Hulu.
I leave you with the inevitable reading list (always more to read!). If you have already gobbled up 1984 and are looking for more dystopias, here’s a short list of recommendations that seem particularly well-suited for the current political climate:
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- The Children of Men by P. D. James
- Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler
- When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
- “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin
A brief roundup of what caught my eye this past week or so…
The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the books that I count among the most influential in my life. The new television adaptation by Hulu starring Elizabeth Moss looks very good. Here’s the first teaser trailer.
Two obituaries of fascinating women I never had heard of until they died: Vera Rubin, who discovered dark matter, and Clare Hollingworth, the reporter who broke the story that World War II had begun.
Apparently, you don’t have to exercise every day. “Better is better” is my motto for 2017–which means just try to do better, instead of perfect, today. It’s a good thought for whatever goal you’re trying to accomplish. I know for me, it’s a whole lot easier to try to meet a goal of exercising 2.5 hours a week (in three sessions, say) than to try to exercise every day. My new Google phone has a Fit app that automagically tracks all my activity for the week and lets me know when I’ve hit my goal.
Funnies: Guy recreates popular movies with his cat; a list of totally true woman facts
Here is an interesting essay by Emily St. John Mandel that analyzes data to find common characteristics of books with the word “girl” in the title and try to answer the question of why this is a trend now. Fun game next time you’re in the bookstore: Make up a short story just using the the titles of books you see that contain the word “girl.”
Here’s a great piece on insomnia by Pagan Kennedy in the New York Times. I think insomnia is a condition that is very much misunderstood, especially in terms of how debilitating it is. There is nothing to bring on a bout of black depression like a few nights of no sleep. On my insomniac days, I have the brain function of a zombie, except I crave sugar and carbs instead of brains. Need that cheap energy. I’m going to try the headphone hack described here and see if it helps. Maybe an audio version of Middlemarch will finally be the cure for my insomnia!
Here’s a great piece about Ursula K. Le Guin being published by Library of America. She’s a feisty old broad, and I mean that in the most affectionate way.