All posts tagged: short fiction

The Spiky, Unsentimental Visions of Diana Athill

The Spiky, Unsentimental Visions of Diana Athill

[ad_1] One of American fiction’s core preoccupations, these days, seems to be the question of what causes unhappiness. Many of our major writers are earnest anatomists of discontent and its social, psychological, and existential causes. This kind of fiction can be very powerful. Reading about loneliness when you’re lonely can provide both diagnosis and solace; encountering a character trapped by student debt or patriarchal expectation can inspire a sense of camaraderie in a reader facing similar frustrations. But more often than not, contemporary novelists handle their subject matter with immersive seriousness and sincerity—and sincerity, after a while, gets tiring. Misery may love company, but sometimes a miserable person wants cheering up too. If you’re looking to make a little light of sadness, as I have been, the work of Diana Athill might be the perfect place to turn. The legendary writer and editor is one of a loose cadre of 20th-century English and Irish women authors gaining resurgent attention for their brilliantly drawn characters and sharply witty prose; others in this camp include Penelope Fitzgerald, …

The Women Writers Who Destroyed Their Own Work

The Women Writers Who Destroyed Their Own Work

[ad_1] How the French writers Marguerite Duras and Barbara Molinard first met is unclear, but their friendship was one of such mutual admiration that it now seems a fated union. Different though their lives were, the two women shared an important characteristic: In their fiction, they both offered intimate depictions of the misogyny they suffered. This was unusual, even shocking, for women writers at the time. By the mid-1960s, Duras was a prolific writer and an acclaimed filmmaker within the French intellectual class. No one knew Molinard. In her 40s, she began to write short fiction and did so with an unusual fervor, sometimes working for weeks without pause. To this day, little is known about Molinard precisely because she did not wish to be known. She went to great pains to ensure this, destroying nearly every page she wrote. “Everything Barbara Molinard has written has been torn to shreds,” Duras announced in the preface to Panics, Molinard’s collection of grotesque and bleakly antic stories, first published in France in 1969 and released last year …