Of course I already have a copy of Blue Plate Special, but I really love pancakes, so this paperback is a must. (And the book itself is spectacular.)
In need of a Monday pick-me-up? Take 10 minutes and watch Rachel Fershleiser’s TEDx talk, “Why I heart the Bookternet" and I guarantee you’ll be full of optimism and sunshine.
1. That dress, those tights.
2. How can I achieve this level of public speaking excellence?
Brad Listi wrote an essay that you should read, because if I know anything, it’s that you people will enjoy it. Here’s Brad, describing his writing struggles:
None of it has amounted to anything—which, when seen from altitude, is probably appropriate. None of it ever felt quite right coming out. None of it had any real blood in it. With very few exceptions, the writing didn’t excite me. It was mechanical. I rarely felt frightened by what I was saying.
It’s as if I’ve been trying to fit a mask onto my face that doesn’t really fit. And why? Money, I suppose. Trying and failing to write stories for money. Trying and failing to shoehorn myself into the ‘right’ kind of creative identity. A kind of stupidity. I know better.
The essay takes a lot of twists and touches on various topics, including violence, loneliness, creativity, and death. Since I’m a morbid romantic, my favorite part was about Ralph Waldo Emerson and his wife:
Not long ago, I picked up a biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson calledMind on Fire and re-read the opening pages, which detail the death of Emerson’s first wife, Ellen Tucker, who succumbed to tuberculosis at the age of twenty. They had only been married two years. (Ellen Tucker’s last words: ‘I have not forgotten the peace and joy.’)
Fourteen months later, in March 1832, Emerson visited Ellen’s tomb and opened her coffin. He actually opened her coffin. Emerson was twenty-eight, at a crossroads in his life, both personally and professionally. He was depressed, directionless, confused. (Imagine Ralph Waldo Emerson, depressed and directionless and confused.) Some part of him could not accept his young wife’s passing, and he felt the need to confront the matter directly.
His journal entry from that day reads, simply:
I visited Ellen’s tomb and opened the coffin.
Mallory Ortberg is my number one writing crush.
MEG: all right
we’re off to the play with Laurie
JO: don’t wait up
AMY: can I come too?
JO: don’t be ridiculous
AMY [whispering]: I’m going to burn what you love and marry your boyfriend
AMY: have such a fun time
at the play
Happily, the novel is now being reissued for the first time since then, in a new edition. I’m quite proud of it; it’s about a group of college girls who are known as “the death girls” on the Swarthmore campus, because they are really into the work and lives of certain women writers (Plath, Sexton, and a third writer I invented) who committed suicide. It’s about the romanticization of despair, and I guess it’s about growing up.
Here’s the trailer for the adaptation of Alice Munro’s Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage. It looks like a good, melancholy time! I love when comedians go serious.
I’m so smitten with this picture of Arundhati Roy. The NYT profile of her is worth your time, if only for this part:
She had already begun work on her novel when “The Bandit Queen,” a film, based on the life of the female bandit Phoolan Devi, was released. Devi was a low-caste woman who became a famous gang leader and endured gang rape and imprisonment.
Roy was incensed by the way the film portrayed her as a victim whose life was defined by rape instead of rebellion.
“When I saw the film, I was infuriated, partly because I had grown up in Kerala, being taken to these Malayalam films, where in every film — every film — a woman got raped,” Roy said. “For many years, I believed that all women got raped.”
"I wish I’d partied a little less. People always say ‘be true to yourself.’ But that’s misleading, because there are two selves. There’s your short term self, and there’s your long term self. And if you’re only true to your short term self, your long term self slowly decays."
I can’t say that I’ve ever truly partied, but the idea of a short-term self vs. long-term self is really interesting.