Also in the news: The dangers of reading overrated literature, and path that leads to more (and better) villainous women. It’s your Daily Blunt!
We probably aren’t the first to remind you that today is 4/20, the day appointed to celebrate cannabis consumption as well as weed culture. Instead of (or in addition to) watching some of the worst movies ever made – “Hansel and Gretel Get Baked” springs to mind – why not squeeze your brains a little by curling up somewhere and trying a book? CrimeReads offers this list of the seventeen best stoner mysteries, which range in difficulty from Lisa Brackman’s Go-Between to Pynchon’s Inherent Vice. The latter is likely to send you reeling back toward more effortless consumption, in which case they make some film suggestions of their own (every stoner knows that 4/20 is essentially Anna Faris Day).
Speaking of green, we can count Robin Hood among the things upon which there’s officially no societal consensus. Tor looks at how tales of this folk hero have evolved over time, and how the man himself changes depending on who’s telling this story. This could explain the prevalence of versions in which Robin’s a nobleman – because past a certain point, it was the gentry who were writing, printing, and reading stories about him. The article shows how these arguments ripple through contemporary versions, such as when Ridley Scott’s 2010 movie inspired questions about whether a real life Hood would join the Tea Party. “The root of this constant argument is simple,” they write. “People want the outlaw of Sherwood Forest to belong to them, to their own ideologies.”
Everyone knows there’s almost nothing worse than struggling to finish a terrible book. British-Libyan writer Hisham Matar suggests the problem is even bigger than we’d like to admit, asserting in an interview that books written in English are, in general, vastly overrated compared to the works being produced by other cultures, and the superiority felt by readers and writers of English ultimately comes at our own expense. “This impoverishes culture and nourishes narcissism,” he tells The Guardian. “Put very simply, it is boring and dangerous.” That being said, Matar credits Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises with tricking him into “thinking I should have a go” as an author.
If you love complex villains – particularly when they’re women – then you should definitely care about representation in literature. Elise Ringo revels in some of her favorite bad women, inspiring us to wish there were more of them – but the way things are currently, this simply isn’t possible: “If there just aren’t as many women, it stands to reason that there just won’t be as many women who are villains.” This also means requires writers to move beyond the limiting standards of “good” representation: ideally, there would be a broad enough range of characters overall that we don’t need every woman (or non-white person, or LGBTQ person) to be viewed in the most flattering light possible. (For inspiration, here’s a roundup from 2015 of some of the most fabulously complicated queer villains.)