Breathing into a Paper Bag: A Links Round-Up

Welp, this has been a flatly terrifying week. Everyone take good care of yourself this weekend. Eat some yummy foods. Hug some puppies. We’ll be here for you on Monday. My links are mostly unscary ones because I care about you and I’m guessing your Twitter feed has been scary enough lately.

Writers always wrote for money, so why do we suddenly have this idea that good writing springs purely from love?

Also, why writers are so reluctant to talk about their pay in specific terms. This article is a review of the edited collection Scratch, and the one above is an excerpt from it. Media saturation! (But also I just find this really interesting.)

That new DOJ report on patterns of abuse in the Chicago Police Department is pretty scary and upsetting. (So it’s okay to skip this link if you are scary-and-upsetting-ed out for the week.) They do bad things to children. Why again do people oppose increased transparency/accountability in police departments?

Daniel Handler on creating the new Series of Unfortunate Events Netflix show. I have some issues with the show but love how diverse the casting is! Even in crowd scenes! It is like the showrunners wanted to reflect the real world or something!

Here’s a super nifty and adorable animated representation of the Joseph Campbell model of the Hero’s Journey. It’s useful because we are all becoming heroes in this new administration! Being a hero sucks most of the time, but we can do it.

My sister sent me this v. interesting article on Afghan women’s poetry. It is fascinating but sad, so be aware before you click that sadness will ensue.

Why the band The Slants might depend on the same laws and court decisions that protect the Washington football team (or they may not) (it’s complicated).

Swapna Krishna on punching Nazis and Nick Spencer ferociously criticizing same.

My friend Alice made me cry by talking about keeping our voices lifted even when it seems like we’re not having any effect on those in power.

The myth of the peaceful women’s march (or, why it’s wrong to feel morally superior about no arrests this weekend).

That’s all for now! Have as good a weekend as you can, and I’ll see you back here on Monday to keep talking about books and protesting this presidency.

Shameless Self-Plugs: A Links Round-Up

I’ve been bouncing around the internets with my writing thoughts. Have some of my word-related New Year’s Resolutions over at the Oxford Dictionaries blog! Then enjoy my picks for 2016 Smugglivus, over at Book Smugglers!

Maddy Myers is great, y’all. Here she is on on-screen queer kisses over at The Mary Sue.

Y’all, you guys, hey everyone, guess what! England is about to get the FIRST EVER Kurdish novel to be translated into English. How cool! How good for the Kurds! I hope it publishes in the US also!

This Natalie Luhrs piece for Uncanny Magazine unpacks what’s so great about romance novels — among other things, it’s that romance takes emotional growth really seriously.

This Sarah Jeong article about the Star Wars prequels makes a pretty good case for its conclusion:

I guess what I’m saying is, maybe if the Galactic Senate hadn’t defunded Planned Parenthood, the Republic wouldn’t have succumbed to an evil fascist dictatorship.

Speaking of Star Wars, I never do this, but I loved this Bodhi Rook-centric fic so much that I’m sharing it here. Even if you don’t read a lot of fanfic, read this one. It’s superb. Hat tip to Rukmini Pande for the rec.

Some book adaptations coming to TV this year. GET PSYCHED.

The Millions has released their glorious, glorious 2017 book preview (through June). TBR lists beware!

Your reminder that writing white supremacy into disciplines of folklore and medievalism was a major strategy of the Nazi regime. (Or: on white nationalism in medieval studies.)

The world has been feeling more than ever like hot garbage this month, but I also read this Twitter thread about C.S. Lewis and Susan, and it meant the world to me. Cf: this excellent point.

I hope you all have an exceptionally fortunate Friday the 13th! If you need something to give you a little boost, maybe try the new Netflix Series of Unfortunate Events, which looks really fun.


Good morning! I have started a new thing that I wanted to tell you about, where I thank journalists when I read a story that I particularly like. There is every reason to do this (especially under the new administration, which we already know will be very hostile to journalists) and no reason not to. Try it!

The NPR Book Concierge has arrived once again! Every year I get zillions of recommendations from this thing, and you should too!

How fantasy movies portray the experience of oppression in near-totally white terms (by the fabulous Zeba Blay).

Vann R. Newkirk II is flames emoji as usual on calling out racism and the value of civility.

The Eritrean soccer league keeps defecting en masse when it goes to games overseas. The author of this article, Alexis Okeowo, allegedly has a book about resisting extremism in Africa, and I am going to read it twice because this article on Eritrean soccer is incredible.

2016 was the year America finally saw the (black) South: A super-great article by Jesmyn Ward. Oh! I forgot to tell you! Last night I dreamed I met Jesmyn Ward, and I wanted to tell her that I admired her work, but all I had read of hers was THIS ONE ARTICLE, and I felt terribly embarrassed that I hadn’t read any of her books yet. I was like “But — I mean, but, I have The Fire This Time at my apartment right now!” and Jesmyn Ward, in my dream, couldn’t have been more polite about it.

The rise of the romance novel (including the genuinely fucking awful The Flame and the Flower, dear God I want those hours of my life back). This article notably includes a picture of romance novelist Rosemary Rogers in a sari because of course.

Authors from around the world discuss colonialism and literature.

It’s been a while since we had a bonkers story in this round-up! Let’s have one: Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants, is embroiled in a deeply weird financial scheme regarding Hatchimals (a prime Christmas gift for children).

Zadie Smith talks about the experimental (or otherwise) nature of multiculturalism and her hopes for the future.

Post-Election Links Round-Up

Manuel Gonzales

NK Jemisin

Nicole Chung

Mira Jacob

Masha Gessen

Vann R. Newkirk II

Rebecca Traister

Rembert Browne

Nikole Hannah-Jones

Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham

A whole bunch of writers of many genres

Stay safe, guys.

No Election Talk Here: A Links Round-Up

Happy Friday, team! This time next week, I’d like to say the worst election season that ever electioned will all be over, but I can’t say it with any degree of confidence. This time next week WHO KNOWS but hopefully it’ll be okay and we can start the long and arduous process of getting our mental health back to normal. Have some links, in the meantime.

A very cool look at how the designer for The Science behind Game of Thrones created the book’s cover (and her very own Iron Throne).

Remember that whole VOYA mess? Of course you do. Well, School Library Journal is showing VOYA how it’s done in that regard.

In a shocking turn of events that leads me to believe that one scene in Shakespeare in Love where Rupert Everett gives Joseph Fiennes notes on his dumb play is TOTALLY REAL FROM REAL LIFE, the New Oxford Shakespeare gives Christopher Marlowe co-writing credit on all the Henry IVs.

Nimona is now an audiobook. Question: How. Answer: This.

Another week, another incident of comics bros being assholes.

I don’t endorse this ranking of Halloween candies from worst to best, because it’s blatantly wrong to have Milky Way ranked above Snickers, but I’m glad we’re having these important conversations. The description of the experience of eating a Butterfingers is absolutely accurate. Great work, internet!

Kai Ashante Wilson writes about the use of dialect in SFF and it’s brilliant.

And here’s some quick shots of things that I hope make you feel better in general: That guy’s still doing that dumb dance all around the world. Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton Mixtape is available for preorder. Leslie Odom Jr. sang this song. Ariel had legal recourse against Ursula. Chris Evans and Jenny Slate are in a movie with an adorable munchkin.

Go vote on Tuesday. Take care of yourselves in the meantime. Stay sexy, don’t get murdered.

2016 Is an Illusion: A Links Round-Up

I’m over at Lady Business recommending nonfiction!

This is not tremendously on brand for me, but I just need y’all to know that there are people whose job title is “smokejumper” and before they became smokejumpers, their job title was “hot shot.” For real. This is real life. Here is how excited I was to share this news with Whiskey Jenny.\

Once again, I want to really emphasize that we have done nothing to deserve Alexandra Petri. Here’s her recap of the second and third presidential debates.

2016 is not real. Here’s the evidence. The thing about Mike Hookem is pretty compelling.

How the Nobel Prize winners are nominated, vetted, and chosen.

To the extent of my knowledge (ie based on the movies on this list I have seen), I fully endorse Sonia Saraiya and Jasmine Guillory’s list of the 33 Best RomComs of all time.

A comics author went on an absolute tear about Romani parents crippling their children on purpose, at this year’s Comic-Con. It was an astounding shitshow of ignorance and racism. Andrew Wheeler has a thorough summary of what happened and some thoughts on the way forward for Marvel.

Mentally ill women are missing from our genre fiction.

If you can stand reading more about white nationalism, this is the story of how a prominent white nationalist and member of a hate group that has committed nearly 100 murders in the five years renounced his toxic politics.

Claudia Rankine, queen of my heart, is using her MacArthur Genius Grant to study whiteness (and race in general).

Public Books has released a frankly pretty astonishing syllabus on rape culture in response to All That Shit in the past two weeks. I’m bookmarking this so I can read every single thing they’re recommending. Anyone care to join me?

No Luke Cage Thinkpieces: A Links Round-Up

Look, I know. I know. You want to read the hot takes on Luke Cage. I understand that’s where you’re at. I am RIGHT THERE WITH YOU. But I have only watched four episodes of the series, and thus I haven’t read that much criticism of it yet.1 You will have to wait for the next one for that sweet Luke Cage talk. Here’s what you can have:

A complete history of Addy Walker, who I honestly still can’t deal with the fact that they retired her books and her doll. Hmph.

Why clothes for women don’t have any goddamn pockets.

The VOYA thing began during my last links round-up period, yet somehow continued through to the period of this links round-up. I don’t understand it either. Here’s all the receipts. VOYA’s latest and best apology, although it says a lot of good things, does not come with unblocking the YA authors they’ve blocked, or like contacting Tristina Wright or the author specifically to say what happens next, or like twelve million other things. So uh, take it with a pillar of salt.

If you’ve heard about Ian McEwan’s Fetus Hamlet book but do not want to read it, can I recommend this epic live-tweet of it instead? Jeanne also reviewed it and she did NOT like it.

I already thought Lionel Shriver was a dick BEFORE learning that her latest book featured a black woman kept on a leash by a white family, but now I want to kick her in the shins forever. Pulitzer winner Viet Thanh Nguyen talks about how to navigate the “cultural appropriation” wars.

Girls in houses: Laura Miller on Shirley Jackson.

This review of a Hitler biography is incredible. Honestly. Read this. I don’t want to say it elevates the art of criticism, but like, maybe.

Vinson Cunningham argues that The Birth of a Nation isn’t worth your time. Y’all, the journey of public discourse around this film should be its own damn biopic, seriously.2

Ann Friedman on Kim Kardashian’s recent trauma, the outing of Elena Ferrante, and the place of women in the public eye.

Daniel Jose Older on how (and if and why) to write characters from backgrounds that are not yours.

Angelica Jade Bastién wrote for the New Republic about the price of being a vocal woman of color in the worlds of geek fandom.

Have a good weekend!

  1. Not for spoiler reasons, it’s just kind of boring to read tons and tons of words about a piece of media you haven’t consumed.
  2. Not seriously.

I Am an Aunt: A Links Round-Up

I’m an aunt, y’all! Wooooooooo! Truly it is the happiest of Fridays! Though I can’t transmit my joy directly into your brains, I will nevertheless do my best to give you some happiness in the form of excellent links. Enjoy!

In case you missed it, I wrote a fandom vocabulary primer for the Oxford Dictionaries blog.

The goddess Alexandra Petri (the woman who brought us Emo Kylo Ren) outlines the Great American Novel.

A history of Harry Potter fandom.

The Seattle Seahawks made a loud noise about the statement they were planning to make before their opening game, but what they said was a whole lot of nothing.

“Modern patriotism has become Kabuki citizenship”: Wesley Morris burns the house down, per usual, in this piece on Colin Kaepernick for the New York Times; as does Rembert Browne for NYMag. These Grantland alums, I’m telling you!

If you believe that a frown is a thing you do with your mouth, this article is going to mess you up.


I know it’s sad when a marriage ends, but also, my first instinct was to be excited for whatever Sam Donsky and Anne Helen Peterson were going to have to say about it, and they did not disappoint. I am just so fascinated by celebrity narrative-crafting.

Kiese Laymon on what the American flag means to him.

It’s time to retire the Rom-Com Bitch, says Bim Adewunmi, with an admirably thorough analysis that includes MY BELOVED While You Were Sleeping.

Bored White Girls: A Links Round-Up

Morgan Jenkins is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers on the intersection of politics and pop culture, and this article about whiteness in Emma Cline’s The Girls is fire.

Pixar has a list of storytelling rules of which one, I believe, is that you can use a coincidence to get a character into, but not out of, trouble. Here’s Alice Mattison on how to write coincidence well.

Sexual harassment in the SF world.

Did I tell you I’m fascinated with the stories of people who are in (or who leave) fundamentalist religions? So this Gothamist article about a meet-up in New York called “Formerly Fundamentalist” was right up my alley.

In case you missed me sobbing with happiness on Twitter, Ian McEwan (an author I have never liked, sorry Ian McEwan fans) wrote a book from the perspective of an in-womb fetus who is also Hamlet. I will never stop laughing about this.

An LA Times report on a PTA mom who ran afoul of a power couple at her school and became the target of their REVENGE!

I don’t agree with everything in this article about spoilers, but its distinction between the WHAT of the ending and the HOW and WHY of an ending is very close to my exact reasons for reading the end.

Look, the further travails of Jonathan Safran Foer, who left his wife for another woman without asking the other woman first, will never not be funny. Michelle Dean of The New Republic is not hugely into his new book Here I Am.

Fall Entertainment: A Links Round-Up

Okay, last week was all out of wack, so I didn’t round up as many links as usual. A bunch of y’all have asked where to give money and how to help with the recent flooding in my home state, so here’s a round-up of places where you can give. Big hugs to all the kind people who’ve gotten in touch to check on me and my family — you’re sweet, and we’re fine, just trying to find ways to help the areas that got hit hard.

When immigrants tell their own stories, they do a better job than when other people tell their stories. SHOCKING. Also, I am super pumped to read Behold the Dreamers. I haven’t read enough litrature by Cameroonian authors!

Vulture’s got their fall entertainment generator again! I love this thing. You can sort by FEELINGS and I LOVE FEELINGS.

Speaking of which, if you’re having feelings about Nate Parker, Birth of a Nation, and the rape charges against Parker from his college years, April Reign has a great piece at Essence on consent and remorse. Vulture has a roundtable on the question of Is It Still Okay to See Birth of a Nation? Ugh okay and I can’t stop adding things on to here but we live in an amazing age for cultural criticism, so also here’s Noah Berlatsky on separating the art from the artists and the wondrous Morgan Jenkins on the complexities of the case.

The guy who wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye is slightly, but not totally, sorry.

A book about which I felt politely(ish) horrified at first and now find really deeply annoying because the more famous and praised it becomes, the more it feels exploitative of actual survivors of rape, has been optioned for a TV series. Like maybe talk to some survivors of childhood sexual abuse before making this show, producers.

A primer on what’s going on with the Hugos, and what WorldCon is doing to fix them.

Ruth Ware on the reason she always writes unreliable narrators (it’s because they’re the most honest kind).1

Happy Friday to you all, and have an excellent weekend!

  1. I know. I know. She just blew your mind.