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Why This Grown-up Reads YA

October 24, 2014 | by

spectrum

When I was a senior in high school, I took a class on Freud in which we read Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice, published not so many years earlier in 1982. Gilligan traced the history of the way in which a female mode of thinking, especially about moral dilemmas, had been diminished and misunderstood by psychologists—not just by Freud, but by others like Lawrence Kohlberg, well-known for his theories of moral development. In answer to an ethical question—Should a man steal drugs for his sick wife?—Kohlberg had found girls to be less developmentally mature than boys, as the girls were unable to respond with a simple no. But Gilligan, a clinical psychologist and researcher, suggested an alternate way of looking at how girls reason, morally or otherwise, that had to do with a much more nuanced understanding about the network of the connections girls felt between themselves and others. As Gilligan describes it, girls saw “in the dilemma not a math problem with humans but a narrative of relationships that extends over time.”

The effect In a Different Voice had on me was shattering in the best way: I felt that someone had finally recognized and articulated my predicament as a teenage girl. An old, black-and-white way of thinking—the kind I was at that moment trying to shoehorn myself into at my boarding school, which had only recently become coed—was being put to question. The gender ratio at my school was kept to one-third girls, two-thirds boys, so the girls wouldn’t “overwhelm” the boys, or so I was told. Urinals stood sentinel in our bathrooms, as if waiting until the whole thing went back to the boys. We even wore boy’s clothes—preferably our fathers’ or boyfriends’. It was mens sana in corpore sano all the way, but it was the boys’ corpora everyone was trying to emulate. Read More »

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A Week in Culture: Sarah Burnes, Literary Agent, Part 2

November 4, 2010 | by

This is the second installment of Burnes’s culture diary. Click here to read part 1.

DAY FOUR

7:40 A.M. A little tired and wobbly this morning. Get up late …

8:20 A.M. … but this is OK. Littlest is in a great mood as we head out. We get the good bus that takes us just two blocks from school.

8:50 A.M. Perusing the paper when I finally get a seat on the subway. Lydia Peelle won a Whiting! She is so good. This is my favorite story.

10:40 A.M. Listen to a CD of a public-radio program, as its producer wants to do a big multimedia project, which sounds compelling. I think I may refer him to Kickstarter.

12:13 P.M. Off to lunch to meet my agents group, as Brian said—anyone who missed it this time needed a doctor’s note. Betsy isn’t there, though; I commend her blog to anyone interested in the writing life.

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A Week in Culture: Sarah Burnes, Literary Agent

November 3, 2010 | by

Author’s Note: So as to not turn this into a kind of Caucasian Chalk Circle—that is, play favorites, pit one client against another—I am not going to mention any of my own this week unless they win an award or Lorin tells me to.

DAY ONE

6:56 A.M. Alarm goes off, blaring NPR. Sebastian gets up to wake the kids. I turn off the radio and go back to sleep.

7:34 A.M. The Middlest comes up to make sure I am awake. I turn on the radio and listen to the Morning Edition story about the NFL enforcing their own rules.

8:35 A.M. For reasons both Byzantine and boring, I am driving to work today, dropping off the Littlest at kindergarten on the way. We pass by a Wonder Bread truck as we walk to the car.

“Candy!” he shouts.

“No,” I reply. “That’s a bread truck.”

“A candy bread truck?”

9:45 A.M. At the office, I close my door to finish my weekend reading. I’m reading on a Kindle, which is convenient, but I haven’t yet figured out how to transfer my notes and highlights onto a document, so it’s not nearly as useful as it might be. Or as a paper manuscript is. But of course this makes me like this guy.

11:07 A.M. An offer comes in via e-mail! It’s going to be a good week.

1:00 P.M. Lunch with my friend Diane, Executive Director of the New Press. I tell her I think she should publish a book on the legal roots of the foreclosure crisis, and she looks at me quizzically. I realize I’m not explaining myself well1 and tell her I’ll give it more thought. We gossip about the kids in the sunshine at La Esquina.

2:35 P.M. Early for an appointment, I duck into B&N (there was no nearby independent!) and browse. I buy Gail Collins’s When Everything Changed, having just gobbled up Rebecca Traister’s Big Girls Don’t Cry. I also buy the current issue of Vogue, which really I should just subscribe to.

4:48 P.M. I dive back into a proposal I am editing—on paper.

5:57 P.M. Pack up bag. Since it’s Monday, I have all my favorite magazines, including the NYRB.

6:20 P.M. Driving home, I listen to the end of All Things Considered and to Marketplace and shout at this guy who says that there should not be a moratorium on foreclosures. What if it were your paperwork that got lost, pal?

7:14 P.M. My beloved mother-in-law and the Eldest’s BFF are over for dinner. I make chicken and broccoli2 from dinneralovestory.com, and even the picky eater eats it.

8:24 P.M. The Littlest and I are reading Charlotte’s Web. They’re at the fair, and Charlotte has just created her magnum opus, her egg sac. My friend Sarah says that when she got married, CW was one of three books she required her husband-to-be to have read.

8:54 P.M. The Middlest reads me a chapter of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights while I flip through New York. After the kids have been convinced to go to bed, I realize the Eldest has stolen my New Yorker, so I read The New York Review of Books (Cathy Schine agrees with me on Jennifer Egan).

10:15 P.M. I read a couple of chapters of Sigrid Nunez’s Salvation City. I loved The Last of Her Kind, but this is a different—if equally accomplished—kind of book. The last one was saturated in envy, but this one seems to be about … love.

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Annotations

  1. But isn’t, like, MERS totally evil?
  2. Thanks, Andy and Jen!

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