Monday, April 15, 2013

In Appreciation of Book-Related Periodicals

Although I mainly write in this blog about books, and especially novels, I have also written here about some of my favorite periodicals, and about specific stories and articles in those magazines and newspapers. Today I want to emphasize how much I rely on those publications – such as The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, The New York Review of Books, The Women’s Review of Books, The Atlantic, Ms., The Nation, Threepenny Review, New York, Vanity Fair, The Progressive, and more – for book reviews, for new short stories, and for articles about authors and other literary topics. Some very recent examples of such articles – the kind that I light up when I see the titles of – are as follows. First, The New York Times (3/22/13) had a very interesting story on the upcoming publication of “The Selected Letters of Willa Cather,” which will include 566 letters from various archives; this is a major event for Willa Cather scholars and readers. I have written here about my love for Cather’s novels, most especially “My Antonia,” which I have also taught several times. Second, the most recent The New York Review of Books (4/25/13) includes a review essay on two new books about Margaret Fuller. Of course I knew of Fuller’s life and work, but this essay reminded me of what a tremendous pioneer she was for women, especially literary women. She was a passionate advocate for women’s rights, including in her groundbreaking book, “Women in the Nineteenth Century”; “the leading female figure in…transcendentalism”; editor of the first avant-garde intellectual magazine in America, The Dial; and the first regular foreign correspondent, male or female, for an American newspaper. Third and fourth, This week’s New Yorker (4/15/13) includes a fascinating profile of the “writer’s writer” James Salter, speculating on why Salter is not more famous, and a detailed article about the life and important revolutionary feminist work of Shulamith Firestone, who died last year in heartbreaking circumstances (see my post of 8/30/12). Each one of these articles taught me something new and has provided me with a window into the work and lives of writers that are important to the world of literature and beyond, and to me personally.

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