Essays Archives - Page 50 of 91 - The Millions

April 9, 2012

A Room of Everyone’s Own: The Writer as Public Fixture 19

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The portmanteau “coffice” refers to a coffee shop employed as one’s office. Every time I stop into a café in New York City, I think, “There they are, the cofficeurs.” And what I have always been tempted to say to them is: Go home.

April 2, 2012

Fifty Shades of Fan Fiction 23

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For every story that puts Harry, Ron, and Hermione in some kind of BDSM threesome, there are a thousand stories in which they manage to save the world without having any sex at all. So why does fan fiction’s stigma persist?

April 2, 2012

The Berenstain Bears and the Tyranny of Timeliness 10

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The news hook is an ugly necessity. In my five years as a political speechwriter, I wrote and placed dozens of op-ed pieces for my bosses — and each time, a little bow of deference to the news cycle, no matter how halfhearted — helped answer the mandatory question: not “why this?” but “why this, now?”

March 28, 2012

The ___’s Daughter 87

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To be clear, I think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with calling one’s book The ___’s Daughter. I think those titles have a marvelous rhythm to them. And yet one can’t help but wonder why there seem to be so many of them.

March 22, 2012

Hip to Be Square: Confessions of an Out-of-the-Loop Parent 9

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Here are a few things I don’t usually tell people: I thought The Police really were law enforcement and I understood the song “Rock Lobster” to be “Rock Monster” for years. How can a girl growing up in hip Ann Arbor in the 1970s and ’80s be so hopeless?

March 21, 2012

Tumblr as a Commonplace Book 17

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This ability to easily aggregate others’ content has allowed Tumblr to earn the distinction of being one of today’s hippest (and most valuable) Internet properties. That said, we should recall that Tumblr is not the first technology to engage in this practice. Consider the early-modern European analogue to Tumblr: the commonplace book.

March 19, 2012

Finding Inspiration: A Homework Assignment 11

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A novel-in-progress must have its aesthetic seductions (the shifting perspective, maybe, or the challenge of covering fifty years in ten pages, or the delight of a brilliant but unlikeable narrator), as well as some je ne sais quoi magic. You must remain inspired. How else to justify the slog?

March 19, 2012

The Moral Value of Surprise: Lessons from Literature for a Fracturing Country 3

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So what does it mean for the country that our cultural common denominator is shrinking? And why, in the midst of these trends is there general agreement on an issue as potentially flammable as contraception?

March 15, 2012

Clean Bill of Health: The Novel’s Myriad Roads to Recovery 12

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I’m neither a doctor nor an esteemed literary critic, but it seems that either the literary culture has made a miraculous recovery, or it wasn’t that sick in the first place. Which is to say that when those famous writers were so certain the patient was ailing, perhaps they were looking at the wrong patient.

March 9, 2012

The Slacker in Modern Fiction: The Flâneur Goes to the Mall 7

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What makes for a successful slacker novel? What propels a book when nothing seems to be propelling the protagonist? And how will the tradition of the flâneur be repurposed in the modern era — because isn’t the slacker ideally positioned for the role?