hello monday! (150223)


(before we begin, here are a few books i've been reading lately.)

i think i've said the phrase, "it's cold," so many times now it's lost all meaning.  i feel like we got more snow last winter, but it's been much, much colder this winter, and i admit i don't mind it.  i might even love it.  i wouldn't mind if we had more snow, either, but, see, i'm a december baby, and i love cold weather.  which means that, sometimes, i check the weather in california and shudder when it gives me 80-degree temperatures in february because, gross, that sounds like hell, i'll take my 20 degrees, feels like 3 degrees with wind chill, thank you very much.

idk what those silly kids were doing in narnia, trying to do away with eternal winter.

i read this article published in vanity fair last july talking about donna tartt's the goldfinch and how the new yorker, the new york review of books, and the paris review poo-pooed it.  i have not read the goldfinch.  i have no intention of reading the goldfinch.  for one, it's absurdly long, and, before you sniff at me for that, for another, the most common criticism i've heard about it is that it could have used a heavier editing hand and lost at least 100-200 pages, and, if there's one thing i cannot forgive in a book, it is exactly that.

going back to the article, though, and the question of "but is it art?":  my question comes back as, "and does it matter?"  beyond that, though, everything gets muddled up because i do think there's an argument to be made for "serious literature" and the need to uphold it, because i do think there's a standard that makes "good" writing or "bad" writing (in the loosest sense), because i do think we need to have these standards and lines in place.  and i think we do need tastemakers and gatekeepers who are essentially curators who help find the good from among the ocean of "created things" and bring attention to them because we don't all have the time to do that ourselves.  and, at the same time, i think we badly need more diversity within these circles of tastemakers and gatekeepers (i love the paris review, but, sometimes, it pains me how white it is) (same with FSG) because, for me personally, it's not only the gender thing that gets under my skin but also (and maybe more so) the diversity thing.  we don't just need writers who are of different color; we need writers of color from different backgrounds who tell a wide tapestry of stories; and we need this -- it's a matter of necessity, not of whim or simple desire. 

at the same time, i'm aware that the conversation of diversity is more nuanced than simply pointing at the tastemakers and gatekeepers and saying, you're doing a bad job.  i can't fault the paris review when they're doing their job and getting quality writing in their pages and oftentimes helping launch careers (and obviously my subscription is clear support), just like i can't fault FSG when they're publishing great writing and supporting more "serious" endeavors that other houses might not risk -- but isn't that also the funny thing about loving something?  that it increases your capacity to be disappointed sometimes because you expect more because you know you can expect more, though "disappointed" is a bit of a strong sentiment here.

sometimes, i think it's funny how i've become so attached to certain publications and houses.  do people regularly think along the lines of houses?  but i've always organized my shelves by houses (then by authors), and i credit penguin for this entirely because i love that penguin logo, and it's always been a joy to see that line of penguins neatly in a row on my shelves.

(as an aside, i must admit i've been side-eyeing the pulitzer since 2011.  i wonder what randomness they'll pull this year.)

i went to another event last week, elliot ackerman with phil klay.  will write up a recap this week, in between editing stories, tutoring, and writing cover letters because, oh, i suppose i'm "officially" looking for a full-time job, which basically means i'm coming face-to-face with my sad, sorry lack of qualifications ...

anyway.  have a good week, all!  as always, thanks for reading!