Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘women and literature’

Shop Talk |

"She is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing, too."

You have probably heard by now that V. S. Naipaul issued a broad-handed diss to women writers, claiming no female writer could be his equal: He felt that women writers were “quite different”. He said: “I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me.” The author, who was born in Trinidad, said this was because of women’s “sentimentality, the narrow view of the world”. “And inevitably for a woman, she is not a complete master of a house, so that […]


Reviews |

My Name is Mary Sutter, by Robin Oliveira

Robin Oliveira’s debut novel, My Name is Mary Sutter, tells the story of a woman hell-bent on becoming a surgeon at a time when no woman in this county had been admitted to medical school—during the Civil War. The novel’s richly described world both helps us imagine the setting and leads reviewer Helen Mallon to this question: How can research best represent a world in historical fiction?


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Okay, so IS the New York Times sexist?

After all the Franzen-Freedom hoopla, Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult imply yes. NPR’s Linda Holmes has some great reflections on the dustup, while Slate tries to break it down by the numbers: Of the 545 books reviewed between June 29, 2008 and Aug. 27, 2010: —338 were written by men (62 percent of the total) —207 were written by women (38 percent of the total) Of the 101 books that received two reviews in that period: —72 were written by men (71 percent) —29 were written by women (29 percent) What does this tell us? These overall numbers pretty well […]


Shop Talk |

The Problem with "Chick Lit"

Over at the Huffington Post, novelist Diane Meier takes issue with the label “chick lit”: Let me suggest that Chick Lit is what we used to call the “Beach Book.” And that it is its own genre, like mysteries or sci-fi; interesting to a specific audience primarily because of the nature and form of the genre itself. Some good stuff, some bad, no doubt, as in all genre writing, you come across an Ed McBain every now and then. But crossover is not the point, if the targeted reader simply wants a light little fantasy with some kissing scenes and […]


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P&W's Inside Indie Bookstores: Women & Children First

In the newest installment of Poets & Writers magazine’s Inside Indie Bookstores series, FWR Associate Editor Jeremiah Chamberlin profiles Chicago’s fabulous Women & Children First bookstore, featuring an interview with the bookstore’s co-owner Linda Bubon. The online version (along with a slideshow of images from the store) is available at no cost on P&W‘s website…but if you want a print copy, Poets & Writers‘ special offer to Fiction Writers Review readers (only $12 for a year-long subscription) is still up for grabs; if you order through this page before May 15, you’ll get the current issue featuring Women & Children […]


Interviews |

Those Magic Carbons: A Conversation with Eileen Pollack

Brian Short talks to fiction guru Eileen Pollack about the juggling act of writing fiction, teaching writing, and directing the Creative Writing MFA program at the University of Michigan. Her advice to writers: Be bold.

“The first thing I love, when I read, is the language. I can’t read anything where I don’t like the voice. What else do I like? I like plot, I like setting, I like humor, I like boldness. I think part of it has to do with being female. No one ever told Philip Roth to be more timid or nice, to have nicer characters or less sex, to not be as broad. And when a woman tests boundaries, it’s seen as unbecoming. We’re supposed to write these quiet, domestic stories or novels. I’ve just never been one to do that.”


Shop Talk |

recommended reading: Jami Attenberg interviews cartoonists

At Largehearted Boy, check out Jami Attenberg‘s first in a series of interviews with female cartoonists; this one is with Sarah Glidden. You can preview chapters from Glidden’s book-in-progress on the artist’s website, and if you haven’t yet read Jami Attenberg’s Instant Love (one of my favorite collections of linked stories) or her debut novel, The Kept Man, I recommend a trip to the nearest bookstore. Jami also had a great piece, “An Apartment Affair,” in the New York Times last month.


Shop Talk |

r-e-s-p-e-c-t for novels by American women

“Can a woman write the Great American Novel?” With this question in mind, Salon’s Laura Miller reviews Elaine Showalter’s new book, A Jury of Her Peers: American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx: …The bestseller lists, though less intellectually exalted, tend to break down more evenly along gender lines; between J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer alone, the distaff side is more than holding its own in terms of revenue. But when it comes to respect, are women writers getting short shrift? The question is horribly fraught, and has been since the 1970s. Ten years ago, in a much-argued-about […]


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can you read like a girl?

On Preeta’s recommendation, here’s a great article from a mother who wishes she could still “read like a girl.” Do others (boys, too…this shouldn’t be so gendered) feel this way, that you can no longer really lose yourself in a book? I’d agree that it’s harder now, and that it depends on what you’re reading and the number of distractions in your life and whether or not you are officially enrolled in an MFA program at the time…but me, I can still read like a girl. What I can’t do, what I often long to do, is to write like […]



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