- The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America—arguably the closest thing our nation has to a band of superheroes—has announced the nominees for this year’s Nebula Awards. Nicola Griffith, interviewed on the Daily last month, is up for best novel; and Samuel Delany, interviewed in the Art of Fiction No. 210, has won what’s surely the most finely named lifetime-achievement award in the land, the Damon Knight Grand Master Award. Congratulations to both!
- Today in common ground for humankind: every language contains the utterance “huh.” Let’s say it together.
- “I don’t think I have the right kind of books for homeless people.”
- Cosmopolitan’s sex tips have probably never been anything to write home about, but this one is especially bad. It involves a glazed doughnut, and its origins are in a 1995 “sexual recipe book” called The Foreplay Gourmet.
- Introducing “normcore,” fashion’s latest, most unremarkable trend: “The kind of dad-brand non-style you might have once associated with Jerry Seinfeld.”
- An update to Tuesday’s note on the Voynich manuscript: a medievalist named Stephen Bax claims to have discovered a way of decoding it.
- In a match made in fun, fearless, female heaven, Harlequin and Cosmo are producing a line of e-books.
- Feel like writing your own erotica?
- The intersection of Fifth and Flower Streets in downtown Los Angeles is now Ray Bradbury Square.
- An interactive art installation encourages participants to fill empty books.
- We can add nothing to this description: “A letter from Franz Kafka in which the sick writer describes his ‘naked fear’ of mice invading his bedroom and complains about his cat soiling his slippers could be saved from disappearing into a private collection in a last-minute rescue attempt by German fans.”
I was one of the last to get in on the sexual revolution, letting the other virgins sprint out of the starting gate ahead of me. Though sex wasn’t formally a competitive sport, in the sixties it could feel like a relay race with men and herpes being passed along by Team America. Cosmo girls were encouraged to be players—to experiment, seduce, and manipulate … in no particular order. For seventy-five cents, we got monthly tips on being alluring and adventurous. Our coach was Helen Gurley Brown.
In those early days of Cosmopolitan, we ripped into each new issue to find out “How You Can Become a More Likeable, Secure, and Less Jittery Person … and Change Your Life.” You might think that, having read that, you would never need another self-help article, but Helen Gurley Brown had endless ways of tapping into our self-doubts while simultaneously giving us license to lust. Virtue was no longer a virtue. The shame connected to sex that our mothers had tattooed on our DNA was suddenly spun on its head by a woman who never had a daughter. And maybe that’s why she made so free with recipes to heat up the bedroom, renovating what was done in bed the way Better Homes and Gardens had our bedrooms. We could now have orgasms along with mismatched bedside tables.
Even if we didn’t manage to snag one of the Bachelors of the Month, we might consider other options after reading, say, “The Undiscovered Joys of Having a Chinese Lover,” “Should You be Faithful to Somebody Else’s Husband,” “Buddy-Flirting—the Bold, New Way of Having Him Notice and Like You,” “Foot Fetishes: The Trade Secrets of the Sexiest Ladies in History,” and “When He Wants You to Make the Orgy.” Married women, often overlooked, could learn “How to Get Our Husbands to Love Us Like a Mistress.”