Friday Five – Crit Edition

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What an exhausting week! Lots of running around — we’ve rearranged and reorganized almost the entire flat (my desk is next on my list). The frantic activity makes up for our week of sleeping/catching up, but man am I wiped. Someday, a balance will be found.

I read a couple of interesting pieces this week that all take apart assumptions about writing. It’s not quite lit crit — more a combination of writing + cultural criticism and sharp observation:

1) People always criticize Mary Sue characters. This Tumblr post looks at wish fulfillment and power fantasy characters and unpacks differences in how male and female characters are treated.

2) Laurie Penny looks at retellings of Sherlock Holmes through the lens of fan fiction. She specifically examines why some stories (like Elementary or the BBC Sherlock series) are considered valid retellings while fan fiction often gets mocked. Hint: it has to do with who’s writing the fiction — white men vs. “others.”

3) Justine Larbalestier takes apart the notion that characters have to be likeable. She says that the likeability criterion is most often applied to female and YA characters.

4) Last week social media blew up about columns by the Kellers, high-powered husband and wife writers who decided to use a particular cancer patient’s social media practices as the inspiration for their critical thought pieces. Many people have written excellent follow ups about where the Kellers went wrong, but I particularly liked Linda Holmes’ reflection on how the Kellers misunderstood social media itself and the difference between publishing and Publishing.

5) To balance out some of these heavier pieces of criticism, here are some lovely photos a Russian mother took of her sons with animals. They’re pretty magical.

Happy weekend!

© 2016 Anindita Basu Sempere. 
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