Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘net are doing, too. Today, we’ve got short fiction from the writer of Americanah and We Should All Be Feminists, sexist double-standards in investigative journalism, a history of Angels in America, and an essay about embracing rejection in writing.
In this morass of an election, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has graced us with some sane reprieve with her short story in The New York Times. Rather than an unproductive snarkfest (though it is funny), Adichie does what she does best, with extremely deft character development, social commentary, and literary psychoanalysis. Plus, obviously, the story is just well-written and timely. Also, go read Americanah.
Melania decided she would order the flowers herself. Donald was too busy now anyway to call Alessandra’s as usual and ask for “something amazing.” Once, in the early years, before she fully understood him, she had asked what his favorite flowers were.
“I use the best florists in the city, they’re terrific,” he replied, and she realized that taste, for him, was something to be determined by somebody else, and then flaunted.
At first, she wished he would not keep asking their guests, “How do you like these great flowers?” and that he would not be so nakedly in need of their praise, but now she felt a small tug of annoyance if a guest did not gush as Donald expected. The florists were indeed good, their peonies delicate as tissue, even if a little boring, and the interior decorators Donald had brought in — all the top guys used them, he said — were good, too, even if all that gold yellowness bordered on staleness, and so she did not disagree because Donald disliked dissent, and he only wanted the best for them, and she had what she really needed, this luxurious peace. But today, she would order herself.
We’ve heard it before: men write serious moral books, women write silly, emotional, romantic feel-y books. We reflect this in covers, what major publications review, and class syllabi (and of course, it’s all a snowball effect). Now, we explore a new facet in the divide between what’s dubbed investigative journalism and memoir, as Suki Kim for The New Republic. Kim discusses her book, for which she went undercover and taught at a school in North Korea and (no big deal) risked her safety big time, only to come back and have it marketed as a kind of finding yourself/traveler memoir:
…But that was the whole point. I did not wish that my book were Eat, Pray, Love. As the only journalist to live undercover in North Korea, I had risked imprisonment to tell a story of international importance by the only means possible. By casting my book as personal rather than professional—by marketing me as a woman on a journey of self-discovery, rather than a reporter on a groundbreaking assignment—I was effectively being stripped of my expertise on the subject I knew best. It was a subtle shift, but one familiar to professional women from all walks of life. I was being moved from a position of authority—What do you know?—to the realm of emotion: How did you feel?
Tony Kushner, writer of Angels in America, talks to Slate writers about the production of his groundbreaking play, which has become one of the most important works of American theater.
I think if you have a title Angels in America, you’re gonna start to think about American angels, and there really is only one native American angel. I took the F train into Manhattan daily to go to school. And the summer before I left to go to St. Louis, these incredibly adorable Mormon missionaries showed up at the entrance of the subway station, with their little white shirts and their little ties, and their “Elder this” and “Elder that.” I, of course, always loved stopping and talking to them, ’cause I’d actually read this stuff. One of them, especially, was just— I couldn’t wait to get to the subway station.
We are blessed to be in an age full of kickass women doing amazing things. Even better is when they talk about the very necessary work of trying your hardest, failing, and having the audacity to believe in yourself enough to do it again. To be told over and over that you’re not good enough, then grind and grind and grind until you own the world. That is why I was so pleased to read Kim Liao’s essay for LitHub, “Why You Should Aim For 100 Rejections In A Year.” It’s less Lean In and more focused on embracing the worst but most crucial part of being a published writer. In short: invest in yourself:
My vulnerable ego only wants to be loved and accepted, to have my words ring out from a loudspeaker in Times Square while a neon ticker scrolls the text across a skyscraper, but it’s a big old coward. My ego resists mustering up the courage to submit writing to literary magazines, pitch articles, and apply for grants, residencies, and fellowships. Yet these painful processes are necessary evils if we are ever to climb out of our safe but hermetic cocoons of isolation and share our writing with the world. Perhaps aiming for rejection, a far more attainable goal, would take some of the sting out of this ego-bruising exercise—which so often feels like an exercise in futility.