Who are Political Children’s Books For?

From The Drift: “Harriet Tubman was born a slave, and her story could have ended there. Instead, she persisted, escaping from slavery and becoming the most famous ‘conductor’ on the Underground Railroad,” begins the first section of Chelsea Clinton’s baffling 2017 children’s book, She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World, illustrated by Alexandra … Read more

Offbeat European Children’s Books For Adults

From Electric Lit: I have a confession to make: with nearly half a century behind me, I still read children’s books. The best are truly ageless—think Alice in Wonderland, The Little Prince, Winnie-the-Pooh. No other genre, to my mind, is as consistently capable of reawakening our sense of wonder and joy, of brushing the dust off our … Read more

Survival Strategies for Unsupervised Children

From Electric Lit: We’re called the Crazy 9, but there are not always nine of us. We were nine before la policía took Tuki. We called him Tuki because he loved to dance all weird. Every time he heard the tuki-tuki of electronic music, he flailed his arms and raised his knees like some sort … Read more

Children’s Chorus

From Voices from Chernobyl: Alyosha Belskiy, 9; Anya Bogush, 10; Natasha Dvoretskaya, 16; Lena Zhudro, 15; Yura Zhuk, 15; Olya Zvonak, 10; Snezhana Zinevich, 16; Ira Kudryacheva, 14; Ylya Kasko, 11; Vanya Kovarov, 12; Vadim Karsnosolnyshko, 9; Vasya Mikulich, 15; Anton Nashivankin, 14; Marat Tatartsev, 16; Yulia Taraskina, 15; Katya Shevchuk, 15; Boris Shkirmankov, 16. … Read more

Why do so few men read books by women?

From The Guardian: The byline at the top of this piece reads MA Sieghart, not Mary Ann. Why? Because I really want men to read it too. Female authors through the centuries, from the Brontë sisters to George Eliot to JK Rowling, have felt obliged to disguise their gender to persuade boys and men to … Read more

What Does Book Publishing Stand For?

From The New Republic: Seven years ago, when Amazon was in the midst of a contentious pricing battle with one of the country’s largest publishers, a group of famous authors banded together to make the case that publishing was a crucial industry for the nation’s cultural and intellectual life. “Publishers provide venture capital for ideas,” … Read more

Self-Cancel Culture

PG doesn’t usually include two items from the same source on the same day, but he’ll make an exception for this one. From The Wall Street Journal: Every day brings news of another “cancellation”—a celebrity’s tweet incites an online mob, an article written in 1987 gets a corporate executive fired. The latest trend is self-cancellation, … Read more

How Hollywood’s biggest stars lost their clout

From The Economist: HOLLYWOOD LABOUR disputes have a certain theatrical flair. When Scarlett Johansson sued Disney in July, claiming she had been underpaid for her role in “Black Widow”, the studio launched an Oscar-worthy broadside against the actress’s “callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the covid-19 pandemic”. In September film crews … Read more

Is Facebook Bad for You? It Is for About 360 Million Users, Company Surveys Suggest

From The Wall Street Journal: Facebook researchers have found that 1 in 8 of its users report engaging in compulsive use of social media that impacts their sleep, work, parenting or relationships, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. These patterns of what the company calls problematic use mirror what is popularly known … Read more

Music Copyright in the Age of Forgetting

From The Ringer: Oh“Oh my god.” These were the words of Nick Thorburn, the main creative force of the band Islands (and composer of the original Serial theme), when someone on Twitter kindly informed him in June that he had covered someone else’s song without realizing it—and released it. “Carpenter,” the third track on this … Read more

Should fiction writers ever lift stories from other people’s lives?

From The Guardian: Name: The muse. Age: Ancient. Appearance: Let’s start with “complicated”. Before we start, can I tell you something strange that happened to me recently? No, you can’t! Please don’t. Why? Because I guarantee that someone, somewhere, will rip it off and pass it off as their own. But it’s a good story. Stop it! Didn’t you read Who Is … Read more

Space and Shadows

From Writer Unboxed: A small painting hangs in my hallway. Created by a friend some years ago, it is one of my very favorite things, and illustrates a poem by Sappho: People do gossip And they say aboutLeda, that she once found an egghidden underwild hyacinths When I asked my friend to paint the poem … Read more

When Yes Doesn’t Mean Yes

From Electric Lit: This is how the story goes: Jake and I were having a playdate. We were at his house. I have no memory of where his parents were. My parents were at work, miles away in the city. Jake and I were young enough to both unabashedly adore Barney and I hadn’t yet … Read more

Spoon River Anthology

From The Poetry Foundation: Edgar Lee Masters was born in Garnett, Kansas, and he grew up in the small towns of Lewistown and Petersburg, Illinois. The author of 40 books of poetry and prose, Masters is best remembered for his great collection Spoon River Anthology (1915), a sequence of over 200 free-verse epitaphs spoken from … Read more

The Silver Age of Essays

From The Paris Review: The first quarter of the twenty-first century has been an uneasy time of rupture and anxiety, filled with historic challenges and opportunities. In that close to twenty-five-year span, the United States witnessed the ominous opening shot of September 11, followed by the seemingly unending Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the effort to … Read more

How Two Authors Brought a Book on Birthing Into the World

From Publishers Weekly: In September 2021, our book, Designing Motherhood: Things That Make and Break Our Births, will be published by MIT Press. We’re two design historians, and between us we’ve had babies and books before. But DM, as our most recent offspring is affectionately known, has had the longest gestation of them all. This book sprung … Read more

The Things We Hid

From The Paris Review: “Ballet was full of dark fairy tales,” Megan Abbott observes in her new novel, The Turnout, noting that “how a dancer prepared her pointe shoes was a ritual as mysterious and private as how she might pleasure herself.” These mysterious and private rituals of young women—these “dark fairy tales”—are at the heart … Read more

3 Beautifully Descriptive Novel Passages

From Pat Verducci: I wanted to share with you three short novel passages that are observant and beautifully descriptive. From Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner… “Snow blew down the Royal Gorge in a horizontal blur. With Ollie’s sleeping head in her lap and a down comforter around them both, she tried now and then to get … Read more

The End of Editing

From Publishers Weekly: We have so many fantasies of what the writer’s life is like: jotting down notes at a café, time to dream, and a certain ease of getting published. While many of these, particularly the last, quickly fade, either because of early rejections or the need for a steady paycheck, there is one … Read more

Cooking with Sigrid Undset

From The Paris Review: The most common food in the medieval historical romance Kristin Lavransdatter, written by the Norwegian author Sigrid Undset (1882–1949), is oatmeal porridge, a dish I made elaborate perfection of during my children’s early years. The porridges in Undset’s book are good and nourishing but plain (though in one scene, a young Kristin … Read more

Stanzas Written in Dejection, Near Naples

The sun is warm, the sky is clear,The waves are dancing fast and bright,Blue isles and snowy mountains wearThe purple noon’s transparent might,The breath of the moist earth is light,Around its unexpanded buds;Like many a voice of one delight,The winds, the birds, the ocean floods,The City’s voice itself, is soft like Solitude’s. I see the … Read more

The Candidate from Yale

“O your college paper, I suppose?” “No, I never wrote even a letter to the editor.” “Took prizes for essays?” “No, I never wrote if I could help it.” “But you like to write?” “I’d like to learn to write.” “You say you are two months out of college–what college?” “Yale.” “Hum–I thought Yale men … Read more

Why IQ Determines Everything in Your Life (the Sad Truth)

From Medium: “People who boast about their IQ are losers.” — Stephen Hawking Hawking has a point — nobody likes a sore winner. That being said, the intelligent quotient (IQ) test is one of the most valid and reliable psychometrics ever created. According to the mental health website verywell Mind, “An IQ test is an assessment that measures … Read more

The State of the Crime Novel in 2021: Writing During the Pandemic

From CrimeReads, the Mystery Writers of America nominees for the 75th annual Edgar Awards discuss the state of crime fiction in 2021: Elsa Hart (nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award – The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne): Fundamentally. Do you know how fantasy novels usually start with a map of the world? If I could represent my … Read more

For the Relief of Unbearable Bookstores

From The Millions: I’ve reached the point in life where my relationship with bookstores is—how to put this?—well, it’s complicated. I love the idea of bookstores. I smile when I see their bright windows on a block. I talk about a new bookshop like normal people talk about newborns. And after the global pandemic loosens … Read more

How Crying on TikTok Sells Books

From The New York Times: “We Were Liars” came out in 2014, so when the book’s author, E. Lockhart, saw that it was back on the best-seller list last summer, she was delighted. And confused. “I had no idea what the hell was happening,” she said. Lockhart’s children filled her in: It was because of … Read more

A Cautionary Tale (Hollywood Part 1)

From Kristine Kathryn Rusc h: For the sake of this particular little series, assume this: When I say “Hollywood,” I mean the movie/TV industry, and I am most likely talking about the biggest one still, the one based in the U.S. . . . . Let’s Start With Copyright—Again Once upon a time in a … Read more

The Zoologist’s Guide to the Galaxy

From The Wall Street Journal: There are many ways of being alone. You can be alone in a room, a house, even a crowd. You can be really alone in a wilderness, or really, really alone in the universe.It’s that last, existential and cosmic loneliness that astronomers and specialists in astrobiology have in mind when … Read more

Find the Ending Before You Return to the Beginning

From Jane Friedman: The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written. —Joyce Carol Oates When I taught my first graduate fiction workshop in 1994 at the University of New Mexico, I did as my teachers had done: I distributed a calendar, students signed up, and we agreed on a plan for distributing … Read more

“Stone Dreams” by Akram Aylisli

From Words without Borders: The condition of the patient just delivered to the trauma department of one of the major Baku hospitals was very serious. They took the patient, who was lying unconscious on the gurney, along the very middle of the half-lit hospital corridor that stretched the length of the whole floor to the … Read more

Waiting for the Plane Tickets: Rights Pros on Digital Events

From Publishing Perspectives: Almost every time you look into your inbox, another invitation has arrived to a publishing industry event online, right? And as you may have noticed, the specialized rights sessions appear to be gaining on many of the other types of programs vying for your attention. As the impact of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic wears … Read more

Story Resolutions: Mastering the Happy-Sad Ending

From Writers Helping Writers: It was 10pm, and I was trying to sleep when my door flew open and my sister came in, wailing like a wounded puppy. “Why did you kill him?” I cleared the sleep from my eyes. “What the hell are you talking about?” “Michael! You killed Michael!” At that, I couldn’t … Read more

The Therapeutic Value of Reading

From The Wall Street Journal: This past year, I’ve found myself returning again and again to a line of poetry by Emily Dickinson: “There is no frigate like a book.” Like many people, I’ve needed the therapeutic effects of reading more than ever this year. As neuroscientists and psychologists (and your high school English teacher) … Read more

The Most Appalling, Appealing Psychopaths

From The Paris Review: Here’s a question: Can you name the debut novel, originally published in Britain in September 1965, that became a more or less immediate best seller, and the fans of which included Noël Coward, Daphne du Maurier, John Gielgud, Fay Weldon, David Storey, Margaret Drabble, and Doris Lessing? “A rare pleasure!” said … Read more

Understanding Third-Person Point of View: Omniscient, Limited and Deep

From Tiffany Yates Martin via Jane Friedman: For most writers, first- and second-person POVs are fairly straightforward (though in the point-of-view family, second might be the eccentric uncle no one quite knows how to engage with). But third-person can be the family troublemaker, so sensitive and mercurial with all its facets: third-person omniscient, third-person limited, deep … Read more

The Spiritual Message at the Heart of ‘Peanuts’

From The Literary Hub: In the 70 years since the comic strip “Peanuts” first appeared, countless other comic strips have come and gone. All the while, seemingly seamlessly, utterly unconsciously, some of the themes and touchstones of “Peanuts” have woven their way into our vocabulary, our views and voices, our senses and sensibilities. “Peanuts” may … Read more


From The Los Angeles Review of Books: IT IS OUR LAST full day in London, my daughter Melissa and me. We take an Uber to the Tower of London and book the hour-long Beefeater tour. The guide is dressed as a guardsman in a red suit, trimmed in gold, and a tall black hat. He … Read more

Where Is My Office?

Not necessary relevant for all authors, but certainly of interest to authors with day jobs. From The Wall Street Journal: For much of the past century, work has been a place where people went. For big organizations, a workplace meant “concrete, steel and glass monuments built to service commerce and Mammon; commanding the skyline of … Read more

She Will Soar: Why Women Write about Escape and Freedom

From Women Writers, Women’s Books: I have always believed in books and poetry as magic carpets that can take you anywhere, to places past, present and future, and realms both possible and impossible. Looking at the history of women’s writing, I felt women had particular cause to long to be lifted from their restrictive or … Read more

The Heroes

From The Paris Review: I spent the first surge worried I would kill my husband. I am a doctor and he has bad lungs. He does also have his own exposures, even works in the hospital—spiritual care. Suddenly the grieving were also infectious. Some nights, over the drinks we started to always have, we would … Read more

Scourge of the Elites

From The Wall Street Journal: Thorstein Veblen may be the most important American thinker most Americans have never heard of. A prolific economist at the turn of the 20th century, Veblen’s groundbreaking work on the mysteries of inequality earned him the admiration of his academic peers, while his searing observations about the “conspicuous consumption” and “predatory” … Read more

Do Writers Need A Room of Their Own?

From Writer Unboxed: A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction–Virginia Woolf As an only child, I always had my own room. There were many, many rooms during the years when my father was a golf course construction supervisor. Some were cramped and generic, others included an adjoining … Read more

The Death of Max Jacob

From The Paris Review: In late December of 1943, Max Jacob went to Orléans and Montargis to buy Christmas gifts for the children of the village of Saint-Benoît. He stayed for five days as a guest in the house of one of his doctor friends in Montargis, where he enjoyed the warmth of a cheerful … Read more

Hellacious California!

From The Los Angeles Review of Books: NINETEENTH-CENTURY AMERICAN CRITIC Hinton Rowan Helper left a lasting impression on how Californian culture is still viewed to this day through one mordant comment: I will say, that I have seen purer liquors, better segars [cigars], finer tobacco, truer guns and pistols, larger dirks and bowie knives, and … Read more

Why Can’t Publishers Handle the Truth?

From Publishers Weekly: When Carmen recounted waking up to the prodding batons of U.S. border guards after fainting from exhaustion during her third attempt to enter the United States from Mexico via the Rio Grande River, I remained speechless. By 2012, I’d spent seven years and hundreds of hours interviewing women like Carmen who survived … Read more