The Wednesday Five

In this week’s Wednesday Five: Elena Ferrante on the conclusion of her Neapolitan novels, the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign aims to stop campus sexual assault, a two-week experiment in giving up refined sugar yields positive results, Steffi Graf as women’s tennis unconquerable force, and a splendid list of fall 2015 movies for grown-ups.


Elena Ferrante on the Conclusion of Her Neapolitan Novels


When Eleanor Foa Dienstag reviewed The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante in July, the fourth and final novel in the series, The Story of the Lost Child, was not yet published. Dienstag wrote, “I cannot wait to see how it all turns out, although it’s fairly clear, from the opening sections of My Brilliant Friend (the first of the series), that it will probably be far from a happy ending.”

This month, the final chapter in this Italian saga was released. Elissa Schappell tells us in a brilliant two-part interview with Ferrante for Vanity Fair, that fans are “in a white-hot lather” about the series’ conclusion. Here’s an excerpt:

The fact that Lena is telling the story, and that narrative subverts stereotypical notions of female friendship—friendship is forever, steady and uncomplicated—feels radical. What made you want to mine this material in this way?

Lena is a complex character, obscure to herself. She takes on the task of keeping Lila in the net of the story even against her friend’s will. These actions seem to be motivated by love, but are they really? It has always fascinated me how a story comes to us through the filter of a protagonist whose consciousness is limited, inadequate, shaped by the facts that she herself is recounting, though she doesn’t feel that way at all. My books are like that: the narrator must continually deal with situations, people, and events she doesn’t control, and which do not allow themselves to be told. I like stories in which the effort to reduce experience to story progressively undermines the confidence of she who is writing, her conviction that the means of expression at her disposal are adequate, and the conventions that at the start made her feel safe.

Read the full interview at Vanity Fair.



The ‘It’s On Us’ Campaign — Stop Campus Sexual Assault

Last week, Dr. Cecilia Ford wrote about the dire consequences for women in “Sexual Assault, Intimidation, and the Fear of Being Rude.” If there is a silver lining in the recent headlines about sexual assaults it is that they have gotten this issue at the top of our public discourse (again).

In response, The White House has heightened its “It’s On Us” campaign with a new PSA, launched just in time for back-to-school season, to prevent sexual assault on college campuses. Share and share widely.



The Results of Giving Up Refined Sugar

132244825_dbf0e21d9f_zPhoto by Uwe Harmann via Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Sugar is the new social experiment. In a recent post, we talked about the Australian filmmaker Damon Gameau’s “naturalistic” experiment, documented in That Sugar Film, to eat 40 teaspoons of sugar a day, which is the equivalent of what most people have in their diet: “After 60 days on his “healthy” sugar diet, his weight ballooned, his waist was significantly bigger, and most important, his health deteriorated: he showed signs of fatty liver, pre-diabetes and metabolic disorder.”

In a counter approach to the sugar “diet,” Michael Grothaus conducted an experiment where he gave up refined sugar for two weeks. The positive results, as he wrote about in Fast Company, included improved sleep, unexpected weight loss, sharper memory, clearer focus, among others.

Read about this sugar experiment in full detail at Fast Company.



The Shadow of Steffi Graf: Women’s Tennis Had Another Unconquerable Force

 She was 16 the first time she beat Chris Evert and Navratilova, 17 when she won her first major, and 18 when she became no. 1. She turned 19 the summer of the year that would define her dominance of the sport.

Such is the beginning story of Steffi Graf. That story, of the trajectory of her career, of her life post-tennis, and of the privacy she guards so deeply now,  is beautifully written by Louisa Thomas for Grantland. Here’s an excerpt:

She gives the occasional interview, insisting on her happiness as a mother, as a wife, but for the most part she avoids the press. She didn’t disappear entirely. She posts pictures of hamsters and Little League fields on social media. She makes money, has endorsements, plays the occasional exhibition. . .  She follows tennis, she told Isaacson, “from a real distance.” When the WTA celebrated its 40th anniversary, she did not attend. . . Graf has done little to protect, let alone promote, her legacy. But it isn’t quite humility that she projects. It’s something more painful and shy.



Fall 2015 Movies for Grown-Ups

Yesterday, our Alexandra MacAaron gave us the top shows she’s looking forward to in the Fall that all feature an empowering female character. To follow that up, our friends at Next Avenue have curated a list of “Fall 2015 Movies for Grown-Ups.” Chris Hewitt writes that “With year-end awards — and adult moviegoers — up for grabs, autumn is when studios roll out the kind of thoughtful fare that might not be able to grab a 13-year-old’s attention.” Check out the worthy list here.



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  • B. Elliott September 2, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Go to Grantland site to read one of the best pieces I have ever read about tennis!