claire messud

30 Best Pop Culture Spinsters

The word “spinster” refers to an unmarried woman, and is most often synonymous with the stereotype of the past-her-prime old maid, a woman who hasn’t made a good match and who’s doomed to live an unfulfilling life. Well, that’s just stereotypes talking, because… hey, what’s wrong with that, exactly? The answer is absolutely nothing. Pop culture has given us some pretty great spinsters (although on average they do fall within a specific, homogenous, moneyed, and white demographic). So here are our 30 favorite writers, artists, and fictional characters who show the freedom that comes from living an unmarried life — female characters who are defined by their wants and desires, and not characterized through the simple scrim of their relationships. … Read More

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15 YA Writers on Their Favorite Book for Adults

TIME magazine recently ran a big package on “young adult” novels, in an attempt to define the nascent genre, giving us both “The 100 Best Young-Adult Books of All Time” and “17 Famous Writers on Their Favorite Young Adult Books.” Unfortunately, the canonical list failed to reflect the range of stories covered in young adult literature, ignoring current YA literature and calling any work with a teen protagonist “young adult.”

The “17 Famous Writers” list also suffered from a disconnect between the content and the buzzword; despite the headline, it seemed clear that authors were asked about “the books they loved as a child.” As a result, current young adult literature was roundly ignored. With that in mind, Flavorwire wanted to flip the script on TIME‘s “Famous Writers” list by asking some of our favorite contemporary young adult authors about their favorite books for grown-ups. The results, which feature responses that are both sly and serious, range from coming-of-age stories to science fiction adventures. … Read More

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50 Writers You Need to See Read Live

Here’s a dirty little secret about books and liking books and the fact that people who are real-life people write books: more often than not, a book reading is deadly boring. A writer will read something that they’ve written and answer some questions, and it’s all very boilerplate. So it’s a pleasant surprise when a writer is dynamite in person, whether they’re reading their work or responding to questions with confidence and something like charisma. In the best live appearances, writers are able to cast a spell over the audience. Here are 50 authors who make that achievement look… Read More

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Cool News: Lake Bell Is Currently Slated to Direct ‘The Emperor’s Children’ Adaptation

This news is exciting: Lake Bell, the writer/director of In a World… and a funny-lady actress who’s never quite got… Read More

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The 10 Best Weddings in Literature

I say this as someone who has written a book about going to weddings — Save the Date: The Occasional Mortifications of a Serial Wedding Guestout now from Riverhead — but that doesn’t mean I’m biased. It’s simply true: Weddings make for great scenes, unforgettable moments of high expectation, emotion, and drama — in fiction as well as in nonfiction. I’ve gathered a few of my favorites from books new and old (though not necessarily blue), along with my feelings on why these particular weddings make for great reading. … Read More

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25 Books That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About New York

Although the middle of the country is our best hope for the future of American literature, it’s impossible to deny that New York City has inspired some of our greatest writers and books. A few of them, like the ones listed here, do an especially excellent job of summing up the experience of living in this wonderful, crazy, and always-changing city. These 25 books, no matter when they came out, explore themes that will surely resonate with those of us who make our home in the five boroughs, and provide a snapshot of life here for those who… Read More

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Jennifer Weiner’s Curious Definition of Literary Sisterhood

This week the New Yorker profiles Jennifer Weiner, dissecting the way she’s been cast in the internet’s ongoing debate about the place of women in the world of writing. Or, sorry: “serious writing,” meaning not those ugly pink-and-blue books that only women read. The profile, by Rebecca Mead, is pretty good. I particularly liked how it highlighted, in a nice, subtle, not-laced-with-ad-hominem-attacks way, the flaw in the heart of Weiner’s crusade: she can’t seem to make her point without trashing women literary novelists. … Read More

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Flavorwire’s 15 Favorite Novels of 2013

2013 saw readers flock to big, 400-plus-page novels like no other year in recent memory. Books that spanned decades and continents, and featured casts of dozens, came into vogue in the middle of — and perhaps as an antidote to — our fast-paced, Twitter-stream world, where great pieces of long-form writing vanish from the computer screen almost as fast as banal Facebook updates from high-school friends. But it hasn’t just been a year of literary volume and breadth — it’s also been a year of novels filled with big ideas, rendered with great panache by some of our finest writers, resulting in a handful of modern classics that made 2013 a damn fine year to be a lover of… Read More

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The Great Gay Novel Is Never Going to Happen

Yesterday at Salon, Daniel D’Addario raised an important question: when will there be a buzzed-about novel that finally gets the gay experience right? D’Addario mentions Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings, a big novel with a rainbow-colored cover that follows a group of friends in the late ’70s and early ’80s; one of them is a gay man. And, of course, Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding, the popular novel from 2011 about the interpersonal relationships of collegiate baseball players and the middle-aged college president who, despite his lifelong heterosexuality, falls head-over-heels in love with the sole gay player. Both books, along with Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children, feature fairly limited views of the gay experience, as their homosexual characters are more symbolic than fully realized. All three of these authors are straight, but would their characters feel more real if they were written by non-heterosexuals? … Read More

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Why Are There So Few Female Antiheroes on Film?

Last week, while assembling our mega-list of the best movie antiheroes, your film editor (and, subsequently, a few commenters) noticed a problem: there weren’t a hell of a lot of women on it. It certainly wasn’t for lack of looking, and while it’s feasible (hell, probable) that I missed a couple, the fact of the matter is that the complexities of the antihero — a protagonist and primary focus of a story that’s nonetheless blessed with little in the way of positive qualities — are given to male characters with infinitely greater frequency than their female counterparts. Why is there such a stark disparity? … Read More

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