Does a writer need a devoted spouse to be prolific? At The Atlantic, Koa Beck examines the concept of having a do-it-all partner like Vera Nabokov and if this traditional gender role only harms female writers. Koa interviews various writers, from Emma Straub to Ayelet Waldman, on how their literary partnerships work. “I’d fantasized that being his Vera was a way for me to deal with being stuck as a stay-at-home mom—I’d subsume my own ambitions into something ‘greater!’ But that lasted about 48 hours,” Waldman said.
James Baldwin was more famous for being an essayist and novelist, but he was also a film critic. At The Atlantic, Noah Berlatsky argues that Baldwin should be considered one of the best film critics for The Devil Finds Work. “Baldwin shows that criticism is art, which means that it doesn’t need a purpose or a rationale other than truth, or beauty, or keeping faith, or doing whatever it is we think art is trying to do.” For more on Baldwin, read our essay on his epiphanies.
How can science fiction writers invent aliens and entire planets but not include multifaceted characters of color in their fiction? At The Atlantic, Noah Berlatsky discusses the genre’s equality problem and analyzes how race is viewed in everything from The Left Hand of Darkness to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. “When that future unthinkingly reproduces current inequities, it seems like both a missed opportunity and a failure of imagination.”
From Hunger Games's Katniss to Divergent's Tris, today's YA heroines are confident, intelligent, powerful, and always skinny. At The Atlantic, Julianne Ross argues that this scrawny stereotype ends up belittling the heroines’ independence and strength. “Just as women are expected to be sexual but not slutty, pure but not prudish, heroines should be strong but not buff.”
In the latest entry in By Heart, which I’ve written about before, Thirty Girls author Susan Minot explains why she prefers to read multiple books at once instead of reading through single books from start to finish. Her reasoning? Books are “worlds to dip in and out of, and my relationship to them is continually deepening and evolving.”
Are you reading this because you’re procrastinating? Do you happen to be a writer? We thought so. At The Atlantic, Megan McArdle explores why writers are the worst procrastinators. Hint: It’s because we have a bad case of imposter syndrome. This isn’t the only theory on why we procrastinate, though.