Friday News: Changing the perception of vets, great essay on reading, book translations across Europe, and literary rejections website
Coming Home to Damaging Stereotypes – Chris Marvin is tired of the “broken hero” stereotype of military veterans. Considering how common this stereotype is in Romance (both m/f and m/m), even if the hero isn’t always a vet, Marvin’s frustration with the way vets are often pitied and stigmatized is extremely relevant to the Romance community. His organization, Got Your 6, is focused on improving the accuracy and thoughtfulness of media portrayals of veterans, shifting the image away from the “damaged” loner to more nuanced, realistic portrayals.
Last week, his organization received a major boost from Michelle Obama and the actor Bradley Cooper. Both of them joined Mr. Marvin to announce plans to give a seal of approval called “6 Certified” to movies whose makers consult with veterans in production and then portray them in a fair and accurate light, as judged by a panel of producers and veterans.
“We believe the way veterans are portrayed on the screen is the way they will be thought of in the living room and the way they will be treated in the community,” Mr. Marvin said at the gathering of hundreds of producers, writers and veterans in Washington. “We need to make sure everyone sees them as assets and encourages them to continue to serve in the community.” –New York Times
Percentage of translated books among published books in Europe – A pretty interesting discussion of books in translation across Europe, including a user-created map and a great link to the Frankfurt Book Fair’s informative list of global book markets. Although the focus is on Europe, one striking point in the comments is the poor record the US has in translating works of fiction from other languages, which, of course, reinforces the Anglo-centric orientation of the US literary market –reddit
The History of “Loving” to Read – You may already have seen this really nice tribute to the emotional relationships readers develop with books, which is notable because it begins with Joshua Rothman’s recollection of an English class on Austen he took in college from a professor who identified herself as a “Janeite.” Anyway, it’s an absolutely lovely example of a male writer talking about reading, including the reading of Romance, in a respectful, insightful, non-douchey way. My only quibble is his comment on literary scholars not being able to express their love of books to their students, for fear of compromising the intellectual study of literature. Some of the best, most intellectually challenging and inspiring English profs I had were those who demonstrated an almost palpable passion for books and reading.
At the time, I found this off-putting. But—as Austen could tell you—first impressions are often simplistic. Soon enough, I learned that all sorts of people are obsessed with Austen. (The philosopher Gilbert Ryle, asked if he read novels, replied, “Yes—all six, every year.”) I also discovered that almost every truly famous writer has his or her own cult of personality. Austen’s cult has been rivalled by the cults of Dickens, Tolstoy, Eliot, Joyce, Hemingway, Lawrence, and Fitzgerald, among others. Today, readers worship Karl Ove Knausgaard or Elena Ferrante. Janeites may be the Trekkies of the literary world, but their passion is really just a more intensified version of ordinary bookishness.
If anything, the fervor of the Janeites puts into relief a fact almost too obvious to notice: the world of books is a romantic world. Romance structures literary life, and to be a reader is, often, to follow its choreography, from susceptibility and discovery (“I just saw it there in the bookstore!”) to infatuation, intimacy, identification, and obsession. We connect with books in an intellectual way, but the most valuable relationships we have with them are emotional; to say that you merely admire or respect a book is, on some level, to insult it. Feelings are so fundamental to literary life that it can be hard to imagine a way of relating to literature that doesn’t involve loving it. Without all those emotions, what would reading be? –The New Yorker
Literary Rejections – This appears to be a new site, and it seems to be geared toward authors looking to publish or feeling discouraged in the midst of the submission process. There are some links to literary agencies, interviews with agents and authors, and advice for how to handle rejection. But as a reader, my favorite page is the one with some of the actual rejections on it, because you can see the breadth of books rejected. Apparently Beatrix Potter actually had to self-publish The Tale of Peter Rabbit because of the number of rejections the book got. And then there are gems like this:
“I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.” Shunned by all the major publishers, the author goes to France and lands a deal with Olympia Press. The first 5000 copies quickly sell out. But the author Vladimir Nabokov now sees his novel, Lolita, published by all those that initially turned it down, with combined sales of 50 million. –Literary Rejections