“In fact what’s becoming obvious — an intriguing counterpoint to the growth in experiment — is the tenacity of relatively traditional narrative-arc-shaped fiction. But you don’t radically restructure how the novel’s distributed and not have an impact on its form. Not only do we approach an era when absolutely no one who really doesn’t want to pay for a book will have to, but one in which the digital availability of the text alters the relationship between reader, writer, and book. The text won’t be closed.”—China Miéville spoke about the future of the novel at last week’s 2012 Edinburgh World Writers’ conference. (Linked to in this week’s Liberty Lit on Autostraddle.)
“Someone said to me recently that we have to encourage more young women to want top-level editing jobs. I think that will happen naturally as we have more role models, more examples of boss ladies who aren’t sad and cruel and overworked and undersexed (cough DevilWearsPrada cough), but who are straight-up owning it and notable not for their gender but for their editorial savvy. A lot of this is about narrative. Writers and editors, we find ourselves fascinating. We like to write about what’s happening in our industry. And every time there is an article about the blogger generation growing up or about a forward-thinking crop of young editors that features only men, the narrative perpetuates. One way to make more women executive editors is to ensure the ones already doing the hard work are more visible.”—The Rumpus Interview With Ann Friedman - The Rumpus.net
“The only way to work successfully from a home office (or kitchen table or couch) is to do things the way you would in a real office: by sitting (or standing) in front of a computer for the majority of your waking hours and Getting It Done. I’ve never understood people who say, “I could never work in an office from nine to five every day, it would be like being in a box,” because when you’re working from home, you still have to work in a box. It’s just a box you have to make and lock yourself. For me, this is much harder than it would be if the box was in an office somewhere, because then I would not have to turn the place I watch Netflix in into a place of business and back twice a day.”—On Autostraddle, I wrote about why I probably love you but can’t get coffee with you because I am at work.
“When I was cleaning out the bathroom cabinet, I found a bag with vials of meds and several straight razor blades. Then I noticed that the doorjamb and deadbolt were broken, and, a little freaked out, I called the management company. A very apologetic receptionist told me that the janitor had broken in when the previous tenant’s social worker called because she hadn’t heard from him in a month, but not to worry, older people just slip in the bathtub sometimes, and they’d cleaned really well. Which is how I found out the previous tenant had died in the bathroom.”—I’m at The Billfold, talking about my previous, and terrible, old apartments.
This article about lunch as an urban invention is really fascinating. Oysters used to be street food! Apples for lunch in the Great Depression! But there were also all these interesting gendered and classed requirements surrounding what people had for lunch. For instance: there were all sorts of social distinctions tied up in the way you were supposed to slice bread before sliced bread — thick with crusts for workers, as thin as possible for ladies — and what went on it.
"Edible Geography: Were there buttering instructions too?
Laura Shapiro: Certainly — butter had to go all the way to the edges, and so on. But the interesting thing is peanut butter, which was introduced as a high-end spread for bread. Even though it was cheap, it had a kind of ladylike aura about it, and so ladies’ lunches would feature perfectly sliced, hair-thin bread, spread with butter and crushed peanut butter — you would grind your own peanuts and mix them with something to make it more spreadable. Peanut butter and celery, peanut butter club, peanut butter salad — even peanut butter and nasturtium!
Rebecca Federman: I have a friend who still has peanut butter with butter. It’s good.
Shapiro: Jelly didn’t come later, until peanut butter filtered down to become children’s food — and then that was it. The ladylike recipes, with nasturtiums and so on, disappear completely.”
Where you ate lunch also mattered. The whole point of lunch — at least, of lunch in New York — was that it was as quick as possible. When women started being more of a presence in the workforce and started eating lunch in public instead of at home as a result, it was scandalous, because of course women couldn’t be anywhere that was even a little bustling due to having delicate constitutions and needing somewhere to put their oversized hats, or something. As a result, eating lunch in public became sort of a feminist act:
"The first women’s club in America began meeting over lunch in New York in 1868. They met at Delmonico’s because, like most fancy restaurants at the time, Delmonico’s did not allow women in unescorted for lunch. So they just walked in and sat down, and that was the start of the womens’ club movement. It wasn’t the suffrage movement by a long shot, but it was an example of women standing up for themselves and expanding their lives.
They liberated Delmonico’s in 1868, but it took 101 years before they liberated the Plaza Hotel. In 1969, Betty Friedan led a group of women to lunch in the Oak Room at the Plaza, where they still did not serve women who were not escorted by men. They sat there for two hours and the waiters wouldn’t go near them. The Plaza changed their policy within a few months, but they would not serve Betty Friedan that day.”
“But there is nothing daft or insouciant, nothing crazy free, about Springsteen’s exuberance anymore. The joy is programmatic; it is mere uplift, another expression of social responsibility, a further statement of an idealism that borders on illusion. The rising? Not quite yet. We take care of our own? No, we do not. Nothing has damaged Springsteen’s once-magnificent music more than his decision to become a spokesman for America.”—
Now: I love Bruce, I find Bruce intensely comforting because he was my father’s favorite human, and according to one (really apocryphal, probably made-up) family legend, my first word was “Bruce:” I could definitely recognize the man’s voice before the end of toddlerhood, and yes, you ARE welcome for that mental image of me as a toddler. But this is a good read. There’s a difference between idealism and hackwork, and this nails it. […]
I also love Springsteen, and I think this article more or less explains why his early music feels so much better than most of what he’s done lately (with the exception of The Promise, which was really from 1978 and which I may or may not be obnoxiously listening to on my balcony at this very moment). Relatedly, I also really hope he doesn’t start falling down the hole of Celebrity Op-Eds About The Issues of The Day, According To Wikipedia, since Springsteen turning into a Bono-esque spokesperson with too little substance and too many ellipses would be seriously disappointing.