TALKING TO SARA MARCUS ABOUT RIOT GRRRL

Sara Marcus’s Girls to the Front, an engaging chronicle of the early-’90s punk feminist movement known as Riot Grrrl, is being published today by Harper Perennial. Writing in Bookforum’s music issue, musician and author Johanna Fateman called the book an “ambitious and convincing book that makes narrative sense out of events that had so far been recorded only in mythic, unverified, and fragmentary form.” We recently sat down with Marcus, who is a freelancer at our sister publication Artforum, to discuss her writing process, feminism’s fate in mainstream culture, gender bias in book criticism, and the feminist future.

Q: I imagine that early on in writing Girls to the Front you were confronted with the challenging realization that Riot Grrrl resists definition. How did you deal with this?

A: I figured out pretty quickly that the only way to tell the “story of Riot Grrrl” would be to tell stories of individual people and stories of context, and that through a kind of triangulation, this would yield a sense of Riot Grrrl as a whole while hopefully steering clear of any reductionism. But it’s not true that there’s no common thread, and I parse this in the book: The girls were really careful to say there’s no there there, but there were specificities to the experiences, and to the networks, that are important.

Jason Schwartzman

This week's New Yorker is available in a new iPad version, with a nifty animated cover by David Hockney. In a note to readers, the New Yorker editors write nostalgically about the magazine’s early days, noting the scarcity of pencils, and marveling that founder Harold Ross "could not have imagined a day when the magazine would be available as quickly to a reader in Manchester or Madrid as to one in Manhattan." They assure readers that "print remains, by miles, our most popular form," before telling us how they really feel. "We’re at once delighted and a little bewildered about this latest digital development and our place in it: delighted because of the quality of what the tablet provides and the speed with which the magazine can be distributed, but bewildered, too, because we’d be liars if we said we knew precisely where technology will lead." Readers need not be bewildered, however, as the New Yorker has enlisted tousled actor Jason Schwartzman to explain how to use the new app.

Music writer Nitsuh Abebe is leaving the indie-rock review website Pitchfork to become New York magazine's pop music critic. While you wait to read Abebe's work at his new gig, check out some of his greatest hits from Pitchfork: Reviews of The CureYoko OneDaniel JohnstonStereolab, an essay on "The Decade in Indie," the "Why We Fight" column, as well as his tumblr page, a grammar, which contains this memorable post on female fandom, among other gems.

At Slate, Emily Bazelon offers new details on the suicide of the Virginia Quarterly Review's managing editor Kevin Morrissey this summer, including emails to staff from editor Ted Genoways, who has been accused of workplace bullying. Bazelon writes: “A closer look at what happened at VQR, informed by conversations with Genoways and most of his colleagues and by examining internal e-mails sent in the run-up to Morrissey's death, suggests that while the VQR staff was unhappy with their boss, bullying may not be the right label for his behavior. The accusation that Genoways is to blame for Morrissey's suicide is even more questionable.”

Tonight, the Word in Brooklyn is hosting Indie Press Night.

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