"The Jo March Effect: Should Classic Heroines Bow to Convention?"

I stumbled across this thought provoking brief essay on Signature that highlights the plight, if that is a justifiable term, of literary heroins who ended up in a conventional life. The author Lisa Rosman ponders on the examples and probable causes of authors, specially female, who often extinguishing by adulthood the the kindle of hope they ignite in their heroin's youth.

A couple of beautifully written passages are shared below.

But it’s interesting, even disturbing that such ambitious lady authors couldn’t, with the exception of Lovelace, grant their literary stand-ins the sort of success they themselves achieved. "Doing so would have meant so much for the young girls dreaming of following in their footsteps."
 "Say what you will, but if Katniss Everdeen excelled at writing rather than archery, you can bet your bottom dollar that she’d “write the book that made the great war,” as Lincoln once said of Harriet Beecher Stowe."

When small talk is a big deal

I recently had the pleasure of reading Karan Mahajan's brief and brilliant article in The New Yorker on the American custom of easy small talk and how it can be confusing to downright challenging for an outsider to adopt. I am squarely in Karan's camp. I never really asked my barista how their day is going.  (And why 'my' barista anyway? why must a possessive pronoun precede everything that is implicitly mine anyway - I don't just like coffee - I like 'my' coffee, I don't just like to ride a bicycle - I like to ride 'my' bicycle.) I have never thought getting to know the person on the other side of a brief, one-off financial transaction is an obligation or even a harmless ritual worth entertaining. If anything, like Karan, I've found it needlessly patronizing and disingenuous.  

I loved the unusually short (in a good way, specially for the New Yorker) article and here are some gems from it - but go read the whole thing immediately!

American life is based on a reassurance that we like one another but won’t violate one another’s privacies

In the East, I’ve heard it said, there’s intimacy without friendship; in the West, there’s friendship without intimacy

On a day that I don’t spend money in America, I feel oddly depressed

Everything is subject to analysis until it becomes second nature to you

and finally, a quote from The Inscrutable Americans - wow - a refreshing blast from the past - a lovely little novel, a bit ahead of its time, that flirted with greatness before descending into the usual obsession with sex.