paper trail

William T. Vollmann's female alter-ego; the art of rejection

William T. Vollmann

Bloomberg News is cutting arts coverage, and very unfortunately, that includes books: The company let go of books editor and National Book Critics Circle president Laurie Muchnick on Monday.

The New York Times talks with William T. Vollmann about The Book of Dolores, a creative account of Vollmann’s female alter-ego. Vollmann started cross-dressing seriously about five years ago, and he tells the Times that after a lifetime of dodging land mines and Afghan warlords, presenting himself as a woman introduced a series of new challenges: “A lot of friends who could always handle the prostitutes and the drugs felt that I had somehow degraded myself,” he said. “The idea of stepping down from the dominant male class really disgusts a lot of people, including women.”

Is a rejection letter always just a rejection letter? Columnist Edan Lepucki at the Millions queries the editors of a handful of literary magazines about the “tiers of rejection” at their respective publications, and what an encouraging note from an editor might mean for future pitches.

From Bibles in the bedside table to entire lending libraries—The New York Times chronicles the ascent of “literary-minded hotels.”

Cowboy poetry is thought to have originated sometime after the Civil War, and while most people are unaware of it, the genre is still alive and well today. “Everyone perceives cowboy culture as being this testosterone-driven thing,” says photographer Jay B Sauceda. “It's surprising to people when they find out there's this soft side of cowboys that involves heartache and girls and friends who died.” Slate features a slideshow of Sauceda’s images of cowboy poets.

Fifty Shades of Gray is not only only dirty, it’s downright unhygienic. Toxicologists at the Catholic University in Leuven in Belgium ran chemical tests on the top-ten most checked-out books at the local library in Antwerp and found that all of the books tested positive for traces of cocaine. The copy of Fifty Shades of Gray, however, one-upped the rest, also testing positive for traces of the herpes virus.