Marginalia: Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare)

On Shakespeare's birth and death anniversary, some notes on one of his comedies, 'Much Ado About Nothing'. The entire play is a “skirmish of wit”, as Shakespeare himself called it, between a playboy bachelor, Benedick, and a sharp-tongued spinster, Beatrice (one of my all-time favorite Shakespearean women.) To read this as simply a love story would be to short-change its overall wit and insightfulness. It is also more than a light-hearted comedy because, through these two characters, Shakespeare makes many nuanced observations about men and women and how we (mis)understand and (mis)play with each other.

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5 short stories

Top Five Short Story Reads for February 2018

For those who may not know, Dame Edna O'Brien is an Irish novelist, memoirist, playwright, poet, and short story writer. This past week, she was given the PEN/Nabokov Lifetime Achievement Award "for breaking down social and sexual barriers for women in Ireland and beyond." I have always loved her short stories the most and have featured them in this series in the past. This month, let's celebrate and honor her with a roundup of some of these short stories (free to read online.) The themes she often returned to in these stories were of the challenges faced by Irish rural communities, mother-daughter conflicts, girls coming of age (with their "conscious innocence,” as John Mullan calls it), the other woman, and so on.

Booknotes: Favorite Writing How-to Books Part 5

In this month's installment, let's look at podcasts related to writing. I am a huge fan of literary podcasts (especially the ones from BBC Radio 3 and 4 and, of course, NPR) because I get to listen to conversations with favorite writers from the comfort of my home, at my convenience, and while I'm multi-tasking. The podcasts I am listing below, however, are ones I have stuck with for more than three years or so. I do not listen to every single episode but I do subscribe to their feeds. One thing I will say upfront about these is that they are not as diverse as I would like them to be. To be clear, I do not mean only in terms of racial or ethnic diversity, though that is also a gap, but diversity in terms of gender identity, class, caste, sexuality, disability, etc. I do hope this will improve over time.