It’s not novel for celebrities to dip their toes into humanitarian waters. Actor Danny Kaye was named the first UNICEF ambassador-at-large in 1954, a full two decades before Angelina Jolie was even born. The trope of the well-meaning but clueless celebrity do-gooder is so entrenched that it’s become easy
Any funeral is poignant. But that’s particularly the case for those who die anonymously, unclaimed by friends or family. In the Netherlands, city poets have responded to the tragedy of “lonely funerals” by researching each deceased person and writing a tailored poem. The poems are short, stark, and moving
Some of the most effective short stories are by songwriters. The constraints and conventions of a five-minute pop song can structure a narrative in ways that, even before you get to the music, are incredibly moving.
The march toward human obsolescence is relentless, yet the job of the writer is considered relatively safe from the threat of automation. For empathy and creativity are two qualities that it would be difficult to bundle within artificial intelligence. And empathy and creativity are perhaps the two primary calling
Seminal children’s books are littered with girls who are defiantly un-girly. Just a few of the many examples are Harriet the Spy, who wears a toolbelt stuffed with spy supplies and Pippi Longstocking, the rowdy orphan with the strength of Popeye.
It’s unsurprising that parenting is fertile ground for novelists. There are plenty of stories, both in fiction and in real life, of parental sacrifice for the sake of children. More surprising are the accounts of parents using their children for the sake of their work.
If anyone tries to tell you that John Cleland’s Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure is a highbrow literary classic, don’t believe them. This 18th-century novel, one of the first major English-language pornographic novels, is pure smut.