Monday News: “Jane the Virgin” Romance novel, lovely tribute to Kit Reed, Brenda Berkman, and 3D jelly cakes
Now You Can Read the Book From ‘Jane the Virgin’ – If you’re a fan of CW’s “Jane the Virgin” (which, in combination with “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” constitutes some of the most female stereotype-busting comedic television), you may already be aware that Simon & Schuster imprint, Adams Media, has published the “book” that Jane was writing in the series. A Romance novel, Snow Falling, was written by Romance author Caridad Piñeiro (who also blurbs the book), and is a historical set in 1902 Miami. While it mirrors the events on the series, it also had to make a few significant changes to a) fit within the time period, and b) resolve into a novel-form HEA. Here’s what the publisher has to say about the endeavor:
“We’re huge fans of the show,” said Karen Cooper, Vice President and Publisher at Adams Media, in a statement, citing the show’s use of magical realism as one of the elements that were carried over to the book. “It just felt right that we should riff off that conceit and give Jane’s fans the happily ever after they have been waiting for.” – New York Times
Alexander Chee on the life, work and loss of his mentor, Kit Reed – This is just such a lovely tribute to Kit Reed (who also wrote horror as Kit Craig), from Alexander Chee, who judged the fiction National Book Awards this year, and who learned much about writing and other things when he was at Wesleyan, where Reed taught from 1960 until her death. I know there is a tendency to dismiss MFA programs, but then there are teachers like Reed, whose influence on her students and their work cannot be underestimated (note that Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman’s daughter is pictured in the essay as one of Reed’s final students). Reed was a cross-genre writer, an early tech adopter, and a fan of comic books, as well as a demanding and engaged writing mentor and guide. Even if you are not familiar with either Chee or Reed, I think you will find the tribute moving.
I am ashamed to say I didn’t know much about her when I signed up for her class. She was not the first author I’d ever met but she was the first to have a full shelf of books with her name on them. Her career was always larger than I imagined, in part because there was so much teaching and writing, and she did more than anyone I knew. When I met her, she’d been teaching at Wesleyan for 27 years. She had debuted with the novel “Mother Isn’t Dead, She’s Only Sleeping” in 1961, a year after moving to campus with her husband Joe, who had accepted his job there the year previous. She was hired to teach writing almost immediately, first as a visiting assistant professor, then an adjunct professor, eventually a resident writer in 2008. She wrote and published literary fiction, horror, science fiction, mystery novels, true crime—all before it was cool to cross genres—and was what she called trans-genred, a term Gary Wolfe memorialized for her in his introduction to her collected stories, “The Story Until Now.” Of her work, I will always remember her for “Thief of Lives” (the short stories collected in 1992), “The Baby Merchant” (2006), “Enclave” (2009), and “Thinner Than Thou” (2004). – LA Times
How Pioneering Firefighter Brenda Berkman Won Women’s Right to Heroism – This little piece caught my eye for a couple of reasons, one of which is the status of male firefighters in Romance. Brenda Berkman is the first female NYC firefighter, having begun her career as an attorney, in part because gender expectations kept her from pursuing a career in fire fighting. She had to fight two major court battles to get and then keep the right to serve NYC as a firefighter (and she even worked off duty for days during 9/11). She ultimately served for more than 25 years, retiring in 2006. You can listen to an interview with Berkman here.
In 1977, when women were first allowed to take the NYC firefighter test, Berkman was still in law school, but she sat the exam, anyway, passing the written portion without difficulty. However, the physical requirements clearly disfavored women, and even though Berkman fought – and won – in court to have those requirements be made more equitable, it wasn’t initially enough:
But that right was assaulted less than a year later, when Berkman was fired for alleged lack of physical ability — even though her performance was consistently in the top tier of every task the fire department had given women. When she returned to her firehouse on the Lower East Side to collect her belongings, the male firefighters wouldn’t speak to her. As she exited in silence, they began clapping. Far more heartbreaking for Berkman than the demonstrative humiliation, however, was the fact that she was no longer allowed to wear the uniform for which she had fought so hard. – Brain Pickings
The Beautiful Cakes Injected Full of Flowers – These are unbelievable. Can anyone make these cakes? I had no idea people were making *cakes* like this. Lordy, there are cakes! – Atlas Obscura