BURN PILE: Advice for Book Lovers, Rebecca Solnit, and Congestion of the Brain

We ordinarily come up with some sort of theme for the Burn Pile—a feature in which we offer up a smattering of the week’s lit-related offerings—but our picks for this week are perhaps best described as “grab bag.” Consider the following, no less tasty for their randomness:

  • Have you seen the New York Times’ “Match Book”? It is—wait for it—“an advice column for book lovers.” People write in asking for recommendations based on previous likes/dislikes/obsessions, and writer-cum–book critic Nicole Lamy responds via columns with titles like “Busy Dad Seeks New Updike” or “Books for Globetrotting Girls” (both published this week). Is it just me, or is this both heartwarming and profoundly comforting?    
  • The New Yorker’s “Page Turner” reviews Rebecca Solnit’s new book of feminist essays, The Mother of All Questions. The genesis of the collection was Solnit’s infuriating encounter with a male interviewer in which he insisted she explain her decision to not have children. The encounter is, as Page Turner notes, “a self-conscious corollary” to the incident from Solnit’s earlier feminist work, “Men Explain Things to Me”—an essay that gave rise to the term “mansplaining.”
  • John Scalzi, a Los Angeles Times critic and Hugo award-winning novelist, offers readers a ten-point plan for getting creative work done during a Trump presidency.  Necessary and dare we say inspirational.
  • And because more than half our staff is gleefully morbid (oh how they delighted in explaining corpse farms to me at our recent content meeting), I’ll leave you with Lit Hub’s piece on “The Notorious Legends and Dubious Stories of Ten Literary Deaths.” Click-baity? Sure. But you know you want to hear the attending doctor’s thoughts on Edgar Allen Poe’s suspected “congestion of the brain.” Drank himself to death? Maybe… maybe not. We won’t even get into that turtle that supposedly struck Aeschylus in the head.