Sunday Links

Jenny and I often run across bookish links, blog posts, and other content that we know our readers would enjoy but we don’t always have a good way of sharing them beyond my Twitter account (and Twitter is only of use for the people online right then). So we decided to create an occasional Sunday feature in which we share interesting bits and pieces we’ve seen around the web. We hope you enjoy it!

  • Victoria at Eve’s Alexandria writes that Amy Sackville’s second novel, Orkney, “is suffocating reading, almost bare of incident or action. But what there is bristles with disconcerting significance.”
  • Kim at Reading Matters is raising money throughout April for the Indigenous Literacy Fund. For every book read and reviewed as part of her Australian Literature Month, she donate 50 pence to the fund.
  • Jo Walton writes at Tor.com about reading for pleasure and escape: “I don’t feel defensive about what I choose to read. I don’t feel proud of some pieces and ashamed of other pieces. It’s all reading, and I do it all for fun.” (h/t to Jeanne)
  • The Totally Hip Video Book Critic is joining the Amazon family.
  • The BBC is producing a 7-hour miniseries of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
    to air in 2014.
  • Litlove writes of her “a one-woman vendetta against the so-called ‘rules’ of writing” in a post titled “When Is A Cliché Not A Cliché?
  • In The Nation, photojournalist Deborah Copaken Kogan writes about “My So-Called ‘Post-Feminist’ Life in Arts and Letters,” in which she recounts some troubling experiences of her career as a woman writer.
  • Jennifer Weiner reacts to the VIDA count, Kogan’s article, the recent promotion of a woman to the editorship of the New York Times Book Review. Weiner has a lot of good things to say, but women should be able to say that they don’t personally care for certain types of books without being called out for letting the team down. It would help perhaps if it were more clear when such statements are a matter of personal preference and not a put-down to the books, their authors, and their readers.
  • Adelle Waldman shares in Slate what she learned from reading all Jane Austen’s books several times. Spoiler: She thinks Persuasion is the weakest and that many people who like it best only like it best because they think humorous stories are less worthwhile. Some people just happen to like serious stories best.
  • The Book Riot team has put together an amusing list of the 42 Traits of the Perfect Reader.
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18 Responses to Sunday Links

  1. Simon T says:

    Oh, Adelle Waldman, I love you for saying that!

    • Teresa says:

      I thought you were someone who liked Emma best. I think she makes a good case for it, but I also think many people’s preferences come down to taste. Persuasion and P&P are my favorites, but I don’t know that they’re the best in any objective sense.

      • Jenny says:

        Persuasion and P&P are my favorites, too! Which seems to knock out the argument that I think humorous stories are less worthwhile.

  2. Lisa says:

    Oh dear, I had no idea I was such an imperfect reader!

    Now I’m off to read Adelle Waldman’s piece, though I have to say that if people really think the humorous stories are less worthy or prefer the serious, Mansfield Park would rank much higher with readers than it usually does.

    • Teresa says:

      Isn’t that piece a scream? I think I’ve heard every single one of those qualities listed as essential. Some of them matter to me, and some don’t, but I consider them mostly personal priorities.

      Interestingly, Waldman ranks Mansfield Park higher than a lot of people do. I like it better than many seem to myself, but I tend to have the Persuasion/P&P tier, with all the rest equal underneath.

  3. Thanks for these! I 100% disagree with Waldman but it’s still interesting to read her thoughts.

  4. cbjames says:

    Thanks for these. You two post the best link lists.

  5. Persuasion and Mansfield Park are both comic novels. Austen was a comic writer.

    The Waldman piece was presumably professionally edited, and thus makes many of the points I just posted about editing.

    I do believe C.B. James is right.

    • Teresa says:

      Of course, all her novels have comic elements, but some feel lighter and more comic than others.

      I really need to read Mansfield Park again to refresh my own memory. I know I liked it more than others seem to, but it and Emma are the only ones of her full-length novels I haven’t read twice.

    • I will expand a bit. Waldman’s suspicion that Rosenbaum and Bloom prefer Persuasion because it is more serious is based on nothing. There is not a hint of such a thing in the Rosenbaum article she links, and these are not the kinds of categories by which Bloom makes judgments.

      A decent editor would have had her support her argument, which I “suspect” would have disintegrated.

      Or how about this: Persuasion is inferior, Waldman argues, in part because “The bad characters, whether snobbish, scheming, or hypochondriacal, are unwaveringly bad.” Let’s drop down a page, where I find a paragraph in praise of the great “Mrs. Norris, who, in her humorous awfulness, is one of Austen’s finest creations.” Mrs. Norris is also unwaveringly bad, which now is a good thing. Editor, editor!

      • Teresa says:

        Ah yes, I see what you mean. I thought her case for Emma was well-argued, but the case against Persuasion less so. I was brought short by her assumptions about readers’ preference, which I agree would probably have disintegrated if she’d been pushed to defend it, but I admit I didn’t take time to follow all her links. (If I’d been editing the piece, however…)

        I suspect that the amount of editing writers get a various publications varies, especially when it comes to some of the online publications that produce so much content. Are the editors even given time to push back and help the authors refine? And of course some like to throw out wild theories to get links. (I like to throw out wild theories sometimes to see if they stick–part of my thinking out loud.)

  6. Jenny says:

    I was delighted to read that article because I have never understood what the fuss is about Persuasion. I like it fine, but it’s by far not my favorite of Jane Austen’s books. I love Pride and Prejudice and Emma the best. Although yes, of course, it’s a matter of personal taste, and everyone liking different things.

    I am very excited for the Jonathan Strange miniseries. A miniseries is the perfect way to adapt that book.

    • Teresa says:

      I didn’t get the fuss about Persuasion until I read it a second time. The focus on regret rather than hopes and dreams for the future gets to me.
      And yes on the JS & MR N miniseries. It makes me happy a big-screen version never happened because this will be much better. (I’ve been amusing myself all week with casting thoughts. David Tennant as Strange? Derek Jacobi as Norrell? Romola Garai as Arabella?)

  7. litlove says:

    The article by Deborah Copaken Kogan sent chills down my spine. What that woman has been through is just awful – and alas, not that surprising. It was brave of her to speak out like that, and I’m interested in reading her novel now. The British press recently went on a rampage against Hilary Mantel because she was critical in a speech she gave of the way the media treat the women of the royal family. The press put out all these headlines that she had slurred Kate Middleton (she hadn’t) and twisted her words to make it look as if she had. There was then an excellent piece in the Guardian pointing out how Mantel had only been small news as a writer, but if they could turn her words into a cat fight, suddenly she was the front page. It was also a fine example of how the media turn on a woman if they can. It’s sickening.

    • Teresa says:

      There was so much to infuriate me in that piece, from the stories she was assigned after becoming a mother to the proposed cover of her book. And then to learn that the title she objected to was hurting her chances to get interviewed. Terrible.

      I remember hearing about that dust-up over Mantel’s comments, but I never did read her original speech. I think the press love to create conflict and quarrels even when they don’t exist.

  8. boardinginmyforties says:

    Thanks for the links. I like this new feature on your blog.

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