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‘Liar’ — and publishers’ values

It’s not surprising that the callousness with which this decade's publishers have apportioned disembodied female parts across thousands of covers should have spilled over into race, but the “Liar” scandal seems like as good a place as any to ask why girls who've already lost their faces should have now have their ethnicities masked. One would think a publishing industry, constantly fretting that it's on the verge of extinction, would be grateful enough to its massive female readership to not constantly keep its female depictions on the edge of erasure.

LA Times

Same Old Story: Best-Books Lists Snub Women Writers

It is the conventional wisdom that women’s writing gets overlooked in the prize department because it doesn’t get enough attention at the outset, or because women writers aren’t respected. I don’t think either is true…Alice Munro, Toni Morrison and Margaret Atwood are North American institutions. (Thanks, Canada.) Kay Ryan is our poet laureate. The latest Nobel was given to a German lady. The ladies, they write good! We know it. So why are we so bad about showing it?

I got a glimmer of an answer last year as I sat in a board room hashing out the winners for one of the awards for which I am a judge. Our short list was pretty much split evenly along gender lines. But as we went through each category, a pattern emerged. Some books, it seemed, were “ambitious.” Others were well-wrought, but somehow . . . “small.” “Domestic.” “Unam –” wha’s the word? “– bititous.”

Politics Daily.

“Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife” by Francine Prose

Of the many hats worn by icon Anne Frank—ingénue, prophet, precocious innocent, even an actual lampshade, in one ill-advised incarnation—the most obvious is the least examined: writer. But in Anne Frank, author and lifetime fan Francine Prose has done the nearly impossible to one of the world’s most revered figures and her relentlessly pored-over text. She’s taken Anne off the pedestal where our near-religious cultural fervor has placed her, and settled her firmly in what she views as a far more appropriate seat: her writing desk.

via Chicago Tribune.

“Notes From No Man’s Land,” by Eula Biss

Whither America? It’s a question as rudely trampled as Fourth of July confetti and as old as the country itself, drawing decades of ruminative expatriates, patriots, nativists and activists to its winking allure like a quarter stuck to the sidewalk. But while many have answered, few have simply stopped to listen.

— Chicago Tribune

‘It’s Beginning to Hurt’ by James Lasdun

It’s the ability to delude ourselves that Lasdun keeps coming back to, knowing it can lead only to a more horrible moment: when we realize that we should have noticed sooner how we were going wrong.

via latimes.com.

“Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”

In Interracial Family’s Story, A Nations Past : NPR.

All Things Considered, June 10, 2009

You might think of girls’ fiction as one big Cinderalla rewrite — that scullery maid who finally gets her night at the ball. But if you’re seeking tips on weathering the economic crisis, your daughter’s bookshelf may be better than Suze Orman…

Buck Up: Life Lessons From Young Heroines : NPR

‘Revolutionary Road’ by Richard Yates goes Hollywood — chicagotribune.com

I discovered Richard Yates under circumstances the author would have found irredeemably precious, on a residency at Yaddo, working my way through the library of former residents. The desiccated copy of “Revolutionary Road,” its spine half-flaked off, told the unapologetically bleak story of Frank and April Wheeler, a husband and wife in 1950s Connecticut suburbia who are alternately battened by insecurity and misplaced superiority. “Revolutionary Road” was dire without being maudlin, erudite without being show-offy, and cruel yet correct. It was masterful and it was not pleased with itself in the least, and it was exactly unlike every character it depicted.

‘Revolutionary Road’ by Richard Yates goes Hollywood” (Chicago Tribune, December 2008)

‘The Wikipedia Revolution,’ ‘Stealing MySpace’ and ‘Viral Spiral’

Tools — > options — > thoughtful analysis. If only explaining it all were this easy” (The Los Angeles Times, May 2009)

Best Books of 2008: “Five Tales Of Uncivil Union”

Marriage By The Book” (NPR’s Books We Like, December 2008)

Just After Sunset

Macabre Master Stephen King Returns To Form” (NPR’s Books We Like, November 2008)

When Will There Be Good News?

Kate Atkinson Returns, Looking For ‘Good News’” (NPR’s Books We Like, October 2008)

America, America

An Imperfect But Epic ‘America’ ” (NPR’s Books We Like, September 2008)

Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love

Russian Immigrants Feast On ‘Food And Love’ ” (NPR’s Books We Like, July 2008)

Certain Girls

Jennifer Weiner’s 2001 debut smash, Good In Bed — which is the kind of book you buy for a plane ride, then are surprisingly pleased you did — introduced us to the agreeably mordant Cannie Shapiro, who, overweight, scorned, and inadvertently on the way to motherhood, writes her way out of a hole and into a career and marriage with a naughty best-seller. (Yes, it’s meta.)

Fractious, Funny Lives of Mothers and ‘Girls’” (NPR’s Books We Like, June 2008)