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Well Put, #1

"And we shall lump Grace Paley together with Judith Krantz!" "Agreed!"

Welcome to the first installment of Well Put: stuff I’ve read online that’s worth sharing. This will be a monthly feature, so let me know what you think!

First, Meg Wolitzer takes on the ghettoization of female authors into that dark corner of the bookstore labeled “women’s fiction.” This is scathing, smart, and more than a little infuriating.

A writer’s own publisher can be part of a process of effective segregation and vague if unintentional put-down. Look at some of the jackets of novels by women. Laundry hanging on a line. A little girl in a field of wildflowers. A pair of shoes on a beach. An empty swing on the porch of an old yellow house.

Compare these with the typeface-only jacket of Chad Harbach’s novel, “The Art of Fielding,” or the jumbo lettering on “The Corrections.” Such covers, according to a book publicist I spoke to, tell the readers, “This book is an event.”

Onto happier news: In response to my last post about Lethem and Auster’s makeout session, reader Betsy commented: “Stick with the interviews with women authors.” Duh, I thought. Duh, ME. How are the women managing to find the time to write? And lo, just this week there appeared an article on Charlotte Rogan, first-time novelist:

…she is on the verge of literary success with a critically praised debut novel, “The Lifeboat,” a harrowing tale that Ms. Rogan began shaping more than a decade ago while she was living in Dallas raising her triplets, who are now in college. More than two years ago, Ms. Rogan pulled the manuscript out of a drawer, practically on a whim, and sent it to an agent, who put it in the hands of an editor at Little, Brown & Company. A few months after her 57th birthday, Ms. Rogan signed her first book contract.

Hooray! (Also, I checked, and the cover of her book does not feature shoes. We’re moving on up!)

Finally: Anne Lamott on finding the time to write–or, more accurately, taking back the time you currently spend on stuff that’s less important (like Twitter, or vacuuming):

I often remember the story from India of a beggar who sat outside a temple, begging for just enough every day to keep body and soul alive, until the temple elders convinced him to move across the street and sit under a tree. Years of begging and bare subsistence followed until he died. The temple elders decided to bury him beneath his cherished tree, where, after shoveling away a couple of feet of earth, they found a stash of gold coins that he had unknowingly sat on, all those hand-to-mouth years.

You already have the gold coins beneath you, of presence, creativity, intimacy, time for wonder, and nature, and life.

On that note: I’m off to enjoy Spring Break with my family. Happy Easter/Passover/whatever else, everyone!

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