Carousel #16

  1. Perfect for the holidays, here is Emily Dickinson’s recipe for gingerbread.
  2. Special thanks to my dear friend Caitlin for this find: Tori Amos talks about how poetry has inspired her and recites “Lady Lazarus” by Sylvia Plath. Very eloquent and moving interview.
  3. The lovely people at Foxing Quarterly are looking for submissions for their next issue. Deadline is the new year! Get to it!
  4. My sister has asked me time and again if I will ever get a tattoo for myself. The main issues is that I never really could decide on what I would get, but this serotonin tattoo is a distinct possibility. Maybe that’s something that will happen in 2013, who knows.
  5. This is refreshing (but also very miserable) to see: writer Jonathan Evison does a breakdown of the money he has earned throughout the years as a novelist. In the end, it is still very nice to see how he finally did catch a break, after all that time.
  6. And of course, this carousel wouldn’t be complete without end-of-the-year lists! Here is the Year in Reading series over at the Millions, which is being updated regularly.
  7. And, via BuzzFeed, here is a list of writers and the best books they read in 2012. Note: not necessarily books that were published this year, just good books that were memorable to them.
  8. Finally, the Atlantic compiles a list of the worst words of 2012.

Carousel #11

  1. Ray Bradbury passed away recently. I read Fahrenheit 451 when I was in middle school. I believe we also watched the movie adaptation of Something Wicked This Way Comes, although I used to think it was just a bad dream I had. I never really got around to reading more of his work until recently, but he was quite a prolific author – especially when it came to short stories. Here’s a story I think you’ll like.
  2. Here’s a hilarious post by Amanda Nelson about awkward encounters with writers at book signings. I’ve never actually met a really famous writer that I admire, but I honestly don’t even think I would want to because I wouldn’t know what to say either.
  3. Here’s a few of Sylvia Plath’s sketches.
  4. A friend of mine, Frankie, loves Sarah Kane. She talks about her at every opportunity and she want you to know that you should read her too. If you’re unfamiliar, Sarah Kane was a rather controversial English playwright who committed suicide in 1999. She handled difficult and dark subjects, and her work is characterized by being very abstract and unconventional for plays. They are also very stripped down and emotionally raw. You can read 4.48 Psychosis here. A bit of a warning though: it’s about the author’s struggle with depression and acts as a suicide note, so I wouldn’t read it if you’re already in a certain state of mind. Read it in the morning or on your lunch hour, when you still feel fresh.
  5. I’ve been receiving a lot of rejections lately, so seeing this ridiculous list of famous writers being rejected gives me some hope at least.

Carousel #8

(A somewhat late carousel. I found a lot of things last week, but I just forgot to keep track of some of them. Sorry!)

  1. No Pulitzer Prize was given out for the Fiction category this year. It was quite hilarious to see the deluge of sarcastic and infuriated comments by writers about the Pulitzer committee on Twitter. But here’s Ann Patchett’s much more reasonable reaction to it.
  2. I like this post about pseudonyms and writers’ identities, especially as someone with a half-pseudonym kind of thing going on.
  3. Speaking of pseudonyms, a writer who goes by the internet name of xTx has a really great story in The Collagist (which is probably my new favorite online lit journal, by the way).
  4. My sister has been pressuring me into reading The Hunger Games for a while and I caved. I’ve just finished the first book of the series and I’m beginning to read the second. At first, I wasn’t sure whether it would be something I would enjoy, but I have – more than I expected to, anyway. There’s also this great personal essay by Roxane Gay that helped to persuade me as well.
  5. This story by David Foster Wallace is very chilling. I think it will stay with me for a while.

Carousel #2

Lately, I think I’ve been getting a better handle on posting things more regularly to this blog, which is a good thing. This week, I thought a lot about names and identity and how that relates to my own writing, as well as my own personal tastes and reading habits. I’ve also got a few writing assignments to work on and a short story done that relates to the things mentioned above (which was actually just a coincidence). Hope you enjoy this week’s stops.

  1. A place where people try to one-up you on what you’ve been reading? This video clip makes Portland seem less like just a strange place on the other side of the country and more like a completely different planet.
  2. Surreal short short story: Thieves.
  3. I read a fantastic essay by Kathleen Alcott on names and why naming is so important to our identity and who we are as writers, especially.
  4. A hilarious short story about a woman giving birth to a laptop: Angela’s Baby.
  5. More Angelas appear!: Continuing with my Jean-Luc Godard run, I watched Une Femme est une Femme, suggested by Angela, who shares her name with the main character. It’s quirky and very amusing. You can watch the memorable book scene on Youtube. Although, the subtitles are far from perfect from what I can tell, unfortunately.
  6. There was this gender breakdown of the biggest literary journals that got a lot of writers and editors talking. And it got me thinking about the continuous cycle of social injustice and my own personal reading habits.
  7. My dear friend Nikki started a blog chronicling her adventures in professional floristry. It reminded me of my own little garden I had as a kid, and how I aspired to be a botanist once, before I even had the idea of writing a story instead.
  8. My other friend Tracey now posts her artwork online, and it’s all incredibly lovely. It’s been amazing to see her journey as both an artist and photographer. It also reminds me of how frequently jealous I am of people with such beautifully precise spatial skills – something I have always lacked entirely.

Read More Female Writers!

When it comes to dealing with other people’s reading habits, something that has always bothered me is the way so many readers of fiction largely ignore women writers, whether consciously or unconsciously. I always think to myself: I must be dreaming! This is 2012, and this is still going on? Yet I’ve encountered (and continue to encounter) quite a few male readers who simply just don’t read any at all (maybe a short story by Flannery O’Connor or two, and maybe some Joyce Carol Oates, maybe). It just seems really extraordinary to me.

Obviously, there is something to be said here about patriarchy and how women have been stifled and silenced throughout history when it comes to writing, philosophy, the arts, the Western canon, etc. The other day, I came across these statistics that detail the gender breakdown of contributions to the biggest literary journals around. Shocked? Well, I suppose you could reasonably guess the results without even looking. I know I did. But the gender disparity is still fairly alarming regardless, and the divide is far more gaping than I imagined. There have been several responses to these statistics already, with both editors and readers alike trying to come up with possible solutions to address these problems. Other relevant questions might be: How many men actually submit to these magazines in comparison to women? If more men do (which I suspect is the case), why is that? Do women still feel powerless in their attempts to become great literary writers, or is their attention simply focused elsewhere? Or both?

I remember once coming across a particular male reader’s blog discussing how few women writers he has given the time of day. It went something like this: “I’ve noticed I don’t read female writers at all, but I think that’s simply a coincidence. It’s just the type of books I like.” Honestly, with all the women writers I can name (even those considered “literary”), I don’t think that’s a very convincing argument.

And what about the newer and upcoming online literary journals? Is this disparity the same for them, or is it becoming more equal? This is just based on my own observations (no official statistics here or anything), but I do suspect there may be a much more equal gender representation among these journals, than say, The New Yorker.

With that said, I think it would be great if people actively tried to search out more books by female authors this year. As of now, I’ve only read one novel so far, but at least I can safely say that that is, in fact, just a coincidence (back in 2011, I actually read more female writers than I did male writers). There are many on my to-read list already, and I look forward to getting to them. Particularly Carson McCullers, who I’ve grown to love very much recently.