Carmen Maria Machado talks to Guernica about short stories, queer identity, and why memoir writing scares her. “With memoir, there is no place to hide; the screen of fiction is gone and it feels really naked, really vulnerable,” she said. “I’m afraid people are going to ask me all kinds of overly personal questions when it comes out.”
A new algorithm developed at the University of Illinois and the University of California at Berkeley suggests that women were better represented in nineteenth-century novels than they have been in more modern fiction. The academics in charge of the study expected to see an increase, but they found the opposite. “From the 19th century through the early 1960s we see a story of steady decline,” write Ted Underwood, David Bamman and Sabrina Lee in their paper “The Transformation of Gender in English-Language Fiction,” which is in the new issue of the Journal of Cultural Analytics.
Entertainment Weekly has posted an excerpt from Somaiya Daud’s forthcoming debut novel Mirage, which is inspiring raves in the YA community. “Mirage is full of characters who feel like they existed long before the story began, and a rich world that is as beautiful as it is cruel,” writes Divergent author Veronica Roth. “Somaiya Daud is a rare talent. A smart, romantic, exciting debut.”
At The Baffler, Chris Lehmann laments the state of the contemporary op-ed page: “In a fragmented market for political commentary, driven largely by social-media renown, writers are brands, and their passing stabs at argument and analysis are glorified ad slogans.”
As if on cue, David Brooks has weighed in with an op-ed on gun violence in America. To stop the mass shootings, Brooks opines, we must first “show respect to gun owners.” Twitter isn’t having it. Among many tweets criticizing Brooks, Philip Gourevitch tweeted that Brooks “proposes a bridge to nowhere — with lots of safe spaces along the way for gun owners to feel unthreatened while the people who don’t like being shot dead apologize for antagonizing them by advocating for life-saving policies.”