paper trail

The New Yorker's best books of the year; Lore Segal's “complicated love letter” to her editors

Kristen Arnett. Photo: Maria Jones

The New Yorker's Katy Waldman lists her best books of 2019. Favorites include Kristen Arnett's Mostly Dead Things, Carmen Maria Machado's In the Dream House, and Bernardine Evaristo's Girl, Woman, Other.

Two members of a Nobel Prize in Literature reform committee resigned yesterday, The Guardian reports. According to the paper, one of the departing members left because “the work to change the culture in the Swedish Academy was taking too long.”

The Maris Review talks to Lane Moore about trauma, experience, and her new memoir, How to Be Alone: If You Want To, and Even If You Don’t. “With the very first pass I felt this pressure to prove how much I had been through. I felt like if I told people how I had been alone pretty much my entire life that I had to prove that. Also, as a woman, often with your experience you can’t just say that this is true. You have to really show it,” she said. “I reached a point in my own journey of writing it where I realized, you don’t have to list every single date and time like you’re in front of a judge.”

At Literary Hub, Lore Segal pens “a complicated love letter” to her editors past and present. “I have been moved by your caring as much as I care about my clarity, my taste, and my facts. You say that the final decision must be the writer’s, but I teach my students the wisdom of agreeing with the editor whenever possible so as to lay away reserves of good will against the day when we must have our way,” she writes. “Fortune, we know, turns on a dime, and yesterday’s soulmate has become the adversary with whom I wrestle through the sleepless night.” has chosen existential as its 2019 word of the year.

The New York Times Book Review rounds up six takeaways from Free, Melania, CNN reporter Kate Bennett’s unauthorized biography of the first lady.

Annalee Newitz tries to imagine a new future of the internet. “What will replace social media the way the internet replaced television, transforming our entire culture?” she asks. After talking to “experts in media history, tech designers, science fiction writers and activists,” including “an entity that is not a person at all,” Newitz concludes that “slow, human-curated media would be a better reflection of how in-person communication works in a functioning democratic society.”

Continuing the trend of doubling literary awards, the judges of this year’s Bad Sex Award have chosen two winners: Didier Decoin and John Harvey. “Faced with two unpalatable contenders, we found ourselves unable to choose between them,” the judges said in a statement that The Guardian notes is “a clear callback” to the 2019 Booker Prize announcement. “We believe the British public will recognise our plight.”