Joan Didion

You don’t have to write much more in a headline than that to catch attention. The New Yorker is doing a bit of a dive into what women’s lives were like in Didion’s novels. Of course, it’s, you know, written by a guy.

As the lovely New York spring of 1977 turned into the worst kind of New York summer, I did two things over and over again: I watched Robert Altman’s mid-career masterpiece “3 Women,” at a theatre in midtown, and I read Joan Didion’s astounding third novel, “A Book of Common Prayer.” Released within weeks of each other that year, when I was sixteen, these two revelatory pieces of art shared a strong aesthetic atmosphere, an incisive view of uneasy friendships between women, a deadpan horror of consumerism, and an understanding of how the uncanny can manifest in the everyday. Reading and watching—it wasn’t long before Altman’s and Didion’s projects merged in my mind, where they constituted a kind of mini-Zeitgeist, one that troubled, undid, and then remade my ideas about how feminism might inform popular art.

Speaking of Shakespeare…

Artificial intelligence is being used to chip away at his oeuvre. I imagine there are many oeuvres that could use this treatment.

When the scholar James Spedding analysed the authorship of Shakespeare’s Henry VIII in 1850, he pored over the details of the text and eventually attributed the play not only to the Bard, but to his successor at the King’s Men theatre company, John Fletcher. Now 169 years later, an academic has used artificial intelligence to back up Spedding’s theory and pin down exactly who wrote what.

Shakespeare turns 100

Well, Shakespeare and Co., which I assume anyone who’s been to Paris has visited. Happy birthday, place-once-filled-with-real-writers-but-now-filled-mostly-with-artistic-tourists!

The first combined English language bookshop and lending library in Paris, it provided unprecedented access to Anglo-American literature for a cash-strapped post-war population who had little money to buy books. It was also the major source of distribution for the avant-garde ‘little magazines’ which would be the first place of publication for some of the most important poets, novelists and critics in the early decades of the 20th Century. These included Harriet Weaver’s Egoist, which had been the first to publish work by Joyce.

Best-of dump post

Basically from now until the distant future of 2020 (I’m telling you, if laser eye surgery companies don’t look into the next year and see a marketing windfall, they’re chumps), there will be these sorts of lists and posts. See my rant of yesterday for my opinions on people’s reactions to them.

Three Lives keeps living

When I lived in NYC and hung around the NYU campus, I spent a lot of time in Three Lives. I’d say I was in every day. I saw tons of famous authors in there, including Michael Cunningham, whose novel, The Hours, was about…. Three lives. My favourite bookseller there was Jessica, who then went on to found Greenlight in Brooklyn. More like Booklyn, amirite? Anyway, here’s an article about the store that I can’t read because I make no money from this site and can’t afford a subscription to the NYT.

Call for more women in charge of publishers in the UK

Not sure what the structure is like over there, but given how the patriarchy tends to download actual work onto women while putting men in charge of delegating said work, I am willing to bet that many of the editors doing the substantive work are women while those in charge are men. If that’s true, then I’m all about this call from the Baroness. (Find it really hard not to giggle at the title “Baroness” now that we have the best sketch comedy in the world in our own backyard.)

”If it’s only ever about the optics it has to fail, it has to be about genuine passion in the DNA of the company,” Rebuck said. “What I’d like to see at some point is a woman running a large group again in the UK – there were a number of us. It’s pretty interesting that we were all replaced by men. And if you look at each decision, they were the right decision, they are fantastic and are doing great things. But the fact of the matter is that unlike the US we have no women running large groups, though we have women running smaller start-ups but no large groups. I think that is a problem. This morning I read that Katie Espiner said [in her Futurebook keynote] ‘Why do we go on about this, it doesn’t really matter.’ Katie – I disagree with you. I think we should celebrate our divisional heads or heads of departments… but until we get more women running larger groups we will not see this sort of wholesale change.