paper trail

Hilary Mantel on Princess Diana; Rebecca Solnit on the expectations of women

Rebecca Solnit. Photo: Jim Herrington

Hilary Mantel explains why, two decades after her death, people are still talking about Princess Diana “as if she had just left the room.” “Royal people exist in a place beyond fact-correction, in a mystical realm with rules that, as individuals, they may not see,” she writes. “They exist apart from utility, and by virtue of our unexamined and irrational needs. You can’t write or speak about the princess without explicating and embellishing her myth. She no longer exists as herself, only as what we made of her.”

Rebecca Solnit talks to The Guardian about Trump, modern families, and her latest essay collection, The Mother of All Questions. In a separate essay for the paper, Solnit imagines how her life might have turned out differently had she been born male. “Perhaps as a girl, I was liberated by expectations that I’d be some variation on a failure,” she writes. “I could rebel by succeeding, while a lot of white middle-class men of my era seemed to rebel by failing, because the expectations had been set so very high for them.”

Facebook has hired former New York Times public editor Liz Spayd to consult on the company’s efforts to be more transparent to users.

At Wired, Nick Stockton reports on a new type of FOMO: the fear of missing breaking news. “Since the election, every iota of news has somehow come to seem more urgent, with each newsbreak, tweet, press conference, and cable news countdown clock hurtling toward … impeachment? War? The end of net neutrality? Climate chaos?” he writes. “And while information overload is nothing new, the stakes of all this new information feel exponentially higher—feel being the operative word here—and processing it has therefore become that much more burdensome.”

St. Martin’s Press executive editors Elizabeth Beier and Michael Flamini discuss Macmillan’s decision to leave the Flatiron building. While Beier mourns the loss of prestige and history that comes with the move—”Walk into a gin joint anywhere in the world, mention that Macmillan’s offices are in the Flatiron Building, and eyes light up”—Flamini is already over his “Flatironic existence.” “True, the Flatiron is a historical landmark,” he says, “but so is Grant’s Tomb.”