Articles by Janet Potter

April 24, 2013

What Should I Read on Vacation?: A Question I Never Took Lightly Again 1

This theory of vacation books, which I subscribe to so heartily, all began with a vacation I took, to London, which was one of the worst decisions I ever made, and the book I took along, Banvard’s Folly, which was one of the best.

March 28, 2013

Men Handling Things: On Stuart Nadler’s Wise Men 0

I can’t say whether I was enjoying the book itself or just the true American, grand tradition of it all. Surely I’m reading a great book, I thought, a rich man with a diamond watch is staring at the ocean while his son looks on and doubts it all!

February 28, 2013

What We Talk about When We Talk about Crying: John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars 10

When we talk about The Fault in Our Stars, we go straight to the unspeakable sadness, out of all the emotions evoked, because we want to convey the incredible emotional resonance of the book. What we’re trying to say is: this book mattered deeply to me, I think it could matter deeply to you too.

February 27, 2013

Love in the Bottom Rung: Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband and He Hanged Himself 0

The characters have nothing to hope for but love, the one resource that can’t be rationed. The most depressing love affairs — emotionless, unrequited, exploitative — shine with promise in these settings.

December 9, 2012

A Year in Reading: Janet Potter 9

The 2012 Janet Potter Awards for Literary Achievement…

November 7, 2012

Election Night in Chicago 0

I was lucky enough to attend President Obama’s Election Night rally in Chicago, and wrote a diary of the evening for The Awl. “Let’s Stay Together” played, Vivica A. Fox walked by.

November 6, 2012

Addicted to Weird: An Interview with Jon Ronson 2

Everybody in the book feels in some way as if they’re lost at sea, and are grasping for something to get them through. And the thing that they often grasp for is something that’s kind of irrational, makes no sense, is ridiculous. And it becomes almost a celebration of irrationality as a human character trait to be cherished.

October 25, 2012

Elegy for a Grey Cat: On Grief, Books, and His Dark Materials 15

For grief there’s A Year of Magical Thinking, for breakups there’s A Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing, but what could I read when I lost my cat? Cats usually show up in books as witches or set dressing for spinsters. Then I thought of Philip Pullman.

August 28, 2012

This Book Is Funny: Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette 1

If you ask a bookseller about a novel and they say, “It’s really funny,” you needn’t read that book. It’s bookseller-speak for “this book has little else going for it,” the literary equivalent of a good personality.

July 30, 2012

Immersive Vicarious Dining: Cooking from A Feast of Ice and Fire 4

I suppose it’s a gift of modern life that I was able to cook, host, and eat the night’s feast. It’s more likely that when book six comes out I’ll spend a good deal of time yelling at the characters to thank their chefs.