It’s happened — the writers who brought down the media by sitting around in our pajamas crafting brittle insights next to a cup of cold coffee have now become too lazy even to blog. I’m sure someone could craft an ontological exploration of how various media migrate to “realness” in the minds of the user, but you might be better off just friending me there until my brittle psyche thrusts me still elsewhere.
IN ANY CASE, I just wrote an ontological exploration of Jonathan Safran Foer and Michael Chabon’s recent works on fatherhood, and am linking to it here, with some other recent items below. It’s like 1997.
Foer is the kind of adult for whom a pre-Huggies life was rudderless. Once he finds out he is going to be a father, “I began tidying up the house… I had my glasses adjusted.” Before becoming a father, the divergence between his thoughts and actions is laughable: Although he says he is a vegetarian, he sometimes eats meat. As his gifted son picks up nursing like a champ, he looms magisterial, the globo-historical import of what he consumes profound: “Seconds after being born, he was breastfeeding. I watched him with an awe that had no precedent in my life… Millions of years of evolution had wound the knowledge into him.”
It is the conventional wisdom that women’s writing gets overlooked in the prize department because it doesn’t get enough attention at the outset, or because women writers aren’t respected. I don’t think either is true…Alice Munro, Toni Morrison and Margaret Atwood are North American institutions. (Thanks, Canada.) Kay Ryan is our poet laureate. The latest Nobel was given to a German lady. The ladies, they write good! We know it. So why are we so bad about showing it?
I got a glimmer of an answer last year as I sat in a board room hashing out the winners for one of the awards for which I am a judge. Our short list was pretty much split evenly along gender lines. But as we went through each category, a pattern emerged. Some books, it seemed, were “ambitious.” Others were well-wrought, but somehow . . . “small.” “Domestic.” “Unam –” wha’s the word? “– bititous.”
“Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife” by Francine Prose
Of the many hats worn by icon Anne Frank—ingénue, prophet, precocious innocent, even an actual lampshade, in one ill-advised incarnation—the most obvious is the least examined: writer. But in Anne Frank, author and lifetime fan Francine Prose has done the nearly impossible to one of the world’s most revered figures and her relentlessly pored-over text. She’s taken Anne off the pedestal where our near-religious cultural fervor has placed her, and settled her firmly in what she views as a far more appropriate seat: her writing desk.****
A month ago (see?) Milwaukee’s Mitch Teich interviewed me about Shelf Discovery, and we had a lot of fun. You can listen to the entire interview here.
A few weeks ago, Sheilah Kast’s Maryland Morning asked me to read my contribution to Rob Walker’s Significant Objects project on the air. Apparently found objects bring out my affectless, alienated side. Better that than BUYING found objects myself on eBay, I say. You can see the whole project here.
More in a month!