Friday News: the history of Harlequin, Hedy Lamarr-inventor, new voices in Fantasy, and Paleo cookbook pulled by Australian publisher
I vehemently disagree that all women want to be “arrogantly bullied,” but she’s getting at something crucial, which is that a fantasy isn’t necessarily something you want. I don’t want anything to do with any billionaire. Rather, a fantasy is something you want to watch. Women are pressured so early and often to pick from a limited set of possible roles; sometimes it’s a pleasure to flirt with a life you’ll never have and wouldn’t want.
There’s a persistent tendency to assume that romance fans read only on a single level. Either we’re housewives fluttering against the confinement of the patriarchy like moths at a kitchen window, or we’re deluded foot soldiers in the backlash to the feminist movement, or we’re dowds somehow simultaneously repressed and sex-crazed. What so many critics miss is that it’s perfectly possible to roll your eyes at yet another hero with jet, an island and an overinflated sense of his own authority; arch your brow at the fucked-up gender politics of a particular scene; cheer when the heroine reads the hero the riot act; and swoon at the emotional climax.
I find feminist readings of romance, Harlequins included, very persuasive. But I’m sure you could find plenty of women who insist they like their favorite authors or lines because men are men and women are women and by God they know the difference. These books are surprisingly capable of bearing the weight of multiple meanings. “I think people read for different reasons, that’s the truth,” Morgan added.
Plus: They’re fucking fun. –Jezebel
Antheil and his wife decamped for Hollywood, where he attempted to write for the screen. When Antheil met Hedy, now bona fide movie star, in the summer of 1940 at a dinner held by costume designer Adrian, they began talking about their interests in the war and their backgrounds in munitions (Antheil had been a young inspector in a Pennsylvania munitions plant during World War I.) Hedy had been horrified by the German torpedoing of two ships carrying British children to Canada to avoid the Blitz, and she had begun to think about a way to control a torpedo remotely, without detection.
Hedy had the idea for a radio that hopped frequencies and Antheil had the idea of achieving this with a coded ribbon, similar to a player piano strip. A year of phone calls, drawings on envelopes, and fiddling with models on Hedy’s living room floor produced a patent for a radio system that was virtually jam-proof, constantly skipping signals. –Brain Pickings
But I also chose those settings because I’ve always loved stories that examine the dynamics within small communities with their own rules and conventions — Jane Austen’s two inches of ivory, Enid Blyton’s school stories, L. M. Montgomery’s Canadian villages, Star Trek’s starships. Schools and universities are a great canvas for fiction, because they’re a bubble that feels like the entire world when you’re in it. Everything can be very high-stakes and intense, while still being small-scale and human.
Samatar: High-stakes and intense, yet small-scale and human–a great description of fantasy at its best.
Zen, your mention of Jane Austen and Enid Blyton reminds me of one of your blog posts–the one about “postcolonial fluff for booknerds.” This is a genre you made up, and it’s about having fun, but it’s also deeply serious–it’s confronting imperialism with merry, romping stories, which seems like a necessary project. Can you say more about it? I think the concept really harmonizes with Stephanie’s effort to rewrite the story of the Wandering Jew. Stephanie, you’ve mentioned being fascinated by the legend, but also hating the fact that it’s rooted in bigotry, and trying to produce a new version from within the context of Jewish tradition. How do you both reflect on your literary revisions? Can you save a trope? –Electric Lit
Pan Macmillan put the book on hold after health agencies warned the book’s recipe for DIY baby formula, made from a bone broth, could be deadly for babies.
The Dietitians Association of Australia said the formula was vastly different to breast milk, and could cause “permanent damage” or kill infants due to its high salt and Vitamin A content. –Herald Sun