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Now on The Art of Commerce: Fershleiser talks industry sexism, her braintrust, self-fulfilling reading cycles & more

AL: It seems (to me at least), that there are two narratives about women writers and they are (somewhat) contradictory. The first is that debut women novelists have a harder time breaking into the industry than their male counterparts. The second is that the new crop of writers (especially literary fiction writers) are more female than male. Do you agree with either of these statements?

RF: I don't think I do? I certainly think there's an immense amount of sexism in the industry still. And maybe the nuance I'm losing in your wording is what "breaking in" means. I don't think women don't get book deals or don't sell, necessarily. I think that books by and about women don't get treated with the same seriousness as similar books by and about men. Or win awards as often, or get talked about in the same terms.

AL: That's an interesting point of nuance you bring up. In what other ways do you find sexism in the industry?

RF: The number of dudes who touched my leg at "professional" drinks, I guess. But look, this is a great fucking year! Lauren Groff! Hanya Yanigihara! Angela Flournoy!

Now on exclusive excerpts: I Have To Tell You by Victoria Hetherington

"And as the sun sets we gulp back our drinks, slop out more, and wipe our mouths and start sipping again, the three of us, and as I drink one more plastic glass of my tart sun-heated wine and I feel a tiny gasp of my life leave me as I light a cigarette, as we’re talking about office dynamics, as the day passes into gray evening all the while – I feel such joy. Such sick excitement.

Because I feel my life pulsing around with my heart and my swallowing, but it’s pulsing outward, it’s leaving me slowly, as my body oxidizes, as I – drunk and stern and briefly in the bathroom – quickly examine the wrinkles around my mouth and the dullness around my eyes, and come out again, settling in the warmer outdoors, the clean up-high air. It is passing and this is exciting, it is passing and through this passing I will pass on to something new, I will create new things, meet and bond with new people, and become a better person, fix myself, but this passing is required – until there’s nothing left to pass."

Now from the stacks: The Sleepworker by Cyrille Martinez

John is a poet. Only John almost never writes poems, because he is also unemployed. He lives with four friends, and they squat in a loft in New York New York, a fantastical city that resembles the Big Apple, but also any other city where artists live. They throw fabulous parties and practice group sodomy. That is, until John meets Andy.

Andy is an artist. Well, he is if you define art as something that people don't want but the artist wants to give them anyway. A gallery owner with Tourette syndrome "discovers" his work and Andy is on his way to being famous. John, on the other hand, is hard at work at being unemployed, drinking all night and sleeping all day—which leaves him very little time for writing poems. Andy, watching him sleep, has an intriguing idea for a piece of art that he thinks will allow John to get paid for what he does best.

Using the story of Andy Warhol and John Giorno and their film Sleep as a starting point, The Sleepworker reads like a Warhol film on fast-forward.

As always—spread the good words (below).
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