Monday News: year-end book lists, world-building, the case against Casey Affleck, and sanitized bad sex
The most ambitious, irritating, hopeful and overrated books of 2016 — and the best one, too – With all the “best of” booklists you see at the end of the year, I appreciated the range of Carlos Lozada’s list, from most hopeful to saddest to laziest to “most overrated book I read this year” (Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right). I think books focused on politics take up too much space on the list, but that’s sort of been the year in general. My favorite category might be “most irritating”:
Most irritating:“Why We Write About Ourselves: Twenty Memoirists on Why They Expose Themselves (and Others) in the Name of Literature”(Plume) by Meredith Maran (editor)
I love memoirs, but after reading this book, I can’t say I’m terribly fond of memoir writers. A collection of reflections from some 20 practitioners of the genre, this book wallows in the trade-offs involved in telling all. Is memoir therapeutic? Should you care about hurting those closest to you? And is it okay to mix in some fictional elements to fill in the holes and enhance the drama? There are helpful insights here for the aspiring oversharer, but for this reader, there is something extra navel-gazing about baring your soul about how good you are at baring your soul. [Read the review] – Washington Post
What is ‘World-Building’? And how do you spell it? – If you’ve never read the “words we’re watching” posts from Merriam-Webster, you’re missing out, because not only do they look at specific words, but also at the way the English language evolves and the dictionary’s process of classifying and chronicling. This post on world-building seems to have been inspired by a tweet from Daniel José Older and soundly rejects his spelling of the word as “worldbuilding.”
It would be an interesting new word, if not for the fact that world-building is not a particularly new addition to the English language. Although it has taken on a new sense in the past few decades, the word has been employed for over 200 years. Our earliest evidence of it comes from 1805, when it appears to have been primarily used in describing the attempts of scientists to explain geologic formations. . . . By the late 19th century, world-building had escaped from the confines of scientific jargon and was being used to describe the imaginative realm of novelists and poets. (Merriam-Webster)
Why the Casey Affleck Sexual-Harassment Allegations Just Won’t Stick – I’ve been following this story for a while now, and am glad to see that it’s getting more play. With the publicity that college rape allegations against Nate Parker received, it’s frustrating but perhaps not surprising that allegations of sexual harassment against Casey Affleck have barely broken the surface of media coverage around his latest film and likely Oscar nomination. Affleck has “protection and privilege” in Hollywood, not only from his brother, Ben, and from Matt Damon, but also because he’s white. Affleck settled two 2010 lawsuits filed against him, so the allegations were never tried, but even still, there’s been remarkably little attention paid to the allegations made in the complaints.
Audiences have not had to grapple with Affleck’s alleged faults, because the media has largely ignored the lawsuits since they were settled. Luckiest for Affleck, he is the brother of a major movie star and the childhood friend of another. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have championed and protected Casey throughout his career, sending a message to the media that they are a united front. Lainey Lui of Lainey Gossip noted earlier this month that Ben and Matt have been particularly present throughout Casey’s Oscar campaign, showing up smiling to premieres and posing for photos as a trio. Matt, who himself produced Manchester by the Sea, sang Casey’s praises to both the Times and Variety. This brotherly posing makes prestige outlets hesitant to ask the younger Affleck tough questions, for fear of losing access to all three stars. His cruise to the Oscars continues undeterred because of his privileged position in Hollywood. – New York Magazine
It’s the (Sanitized) Winner of the 2016 Bad Sex Award! – I actually think it’s better this way.
The Literary Review has announced the winner of its annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award: the Italian writer Erri De Luca, for a passage in his novel The Day Before Happiness, published in the U.S. by Other Press in 2011. It’s worth reading in full—something you can do, of course, over at The Literary Review—but if you’re stuck at work like we are, perhaps you’ll appreciate this sanitized version we’ve created. Bonus: It also works as Madlibs, if you’re into that sort of thing. – Booklist