Lit Thursday: Sexual Hall Passes & More


**What editor in chief Jess Grose is reading:**

If the series *Big Little Lies* has left you thirsting for domestic dramas of the upper middle classes, Sarah Dunn’s (1) will quench. It’s about a married couple, Lucy and Owen, who are mostly happy. They live in a beautiful Hudson Valley town, eat expensive cheese, and have a young son who has a lot of difficulties. Somewhat impulsively, they decide to give each other a six-month “hall pass” to see other people – and drama (unsurprisingly) ensues. While it’s occasionally contrived, it’s also warm, funny, sad and all those other messy human emotions, and I couldn’t put it down.

**What deputy editor Laia Garcia is reading:**

I’ve been putting myself on a strict reading regimen in the past few months, in an effort to make my brain more open to writing easily without all the drama that always comes with (you know, like training for a marathon!). I am currently reading a couple different books, which is a first for me, but is weirdly working out quite lovely. Right before bedtime, I’ve started reading Jane Bowles’s (2). The story of how Christina Goering and Mrs. Copperfield, who, in the words of Belle, “wants much more than this provincial life,” escape to Panama because, *why not?,* is weird and charming, and Christina is so just… odd, that I was sucked into their world as soon as I turned the first page.I haven’t yet gotten to the meat of the book, but I love Jane’s way with words so much that I would read this book even if it were about the love affair between Donald Trump and Melania (which it most certainly isn’t!). Originally published in 1943, this book feels light-years ahead of its time.

**What assistant editor Molly Elizalde is reading** :

There’s an obvious guilt that comes with reading someone else’s diary, but the feeling of reading your own is almost worse—the cringe-worthy thoughts and desires, an overwhelming feeling that you once had about something or someone now almost totally faded, the shame you feel about the way you acted that one time. But Heidi Julavits’s diary-cum-memoir (3)is a study in awareness, like an affirmative email from a best friend that stands in solidarity, saying, “Ugh, I’m lost, too!”

I originally read the book at a time when my career had been overturned. I was laid off from my magazine job and found myself on the opposite end of the media spectrum at a new digital brand. I was working twelve-hour days and any time that wasn’t spent dreading deadlines was spent thinking how anything I was doing—my lack of a personal life, my job writing stories I mostly didn’t believe in—fit into the larger context of my life.

There’s a piece of advice my mother gave me that I was trying to, and still try to live by: one day at a time. (It’s so generic, but the truly best motto if you ever find yourself in panic mode.) Something about Julavits’s book allowed me to do that: the way she explains how she used to measure the day’s luck in whether or not she tore the foil lid on her yogurt cup in the morning, or how she knew immediately after she married her first husband that it wasn’t right. In a passage that begins with thoughts on a book by the artist Sophie Calle, she meanders to memories of an old boyfriend (or actually a “not-boyfriend” who she slept with when her real boyfriend moved away). She adds up little reminiscences and thoughts, weaving together a non-linear life. She gets through each day — the tough periods and precious times — and tells the story of a full life.

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