Zoë Heller is the author of Everything You Know, Notes on a Scandal, and The Believers. (August 2016)

IN THE REVIEW

Hillary & Women

Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works

by Jay Newton-Small

My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency

by Doug Henwood
In addition to emphasizing what her presidency would do for women, Clinton and her surrogates have been working hard to invoke what it might mean for women in a grander, symbolic sense. As a woman president, she tells us, she wouldn’t just work for radical change, she would be radical change.

The Queen on Broadway

Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in The Audience

The Audience

a play by Peter Morgan, directed by Stephen Daldry, at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, New York City, March 8–June 28, 2015
It is pretty rich that Peter Morgan should ask us to swoon and sympathize with a Queen who invokes the divine right of kings in an argument about why she needs a yacht. And it’s richer still that he should attempt, in the same play, to persuade us that the Queen is a woman of deeply liberal convictions.

Rape on the Campus

Rutgers students and faculty marching in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault in the ‘Help Carry the Weight’ campaign, New Brunswick, New Jersey, October 2014. This march and others around the country were inspired by Emma Sulkowicz, a senior at Columbia who alleges she was raped by a fellow student and has been carrying a mattress on campus every day to protest the university’s handling of her case.
Few would disagree that the systems for preventing and prosecuting sexual assault on US campuses are in need of change. But the efficacy and fairness of recent reforms that focus on making college grievance procedures more favorable to complainants and on codifying strict new definitions of sexual consent remain highly questionable.

The Hard Work of Marriage

Rosamund Pike in David Fincher’s Gone Girl, based on the novel by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

a film directed by David Fincher
It is one of the uncontested wisdoms of our era that “marriage is hard work.” The belief that conjugal happiness can be earned only by rigorous and sustained emotional labor is so deeply entrenched in the common culture that when Amy Dunne, the female protagonist of David Fincher’s new movie, Gone Girl, boasts cheerfully of finding marriage “easy,” it is as if she had entered Dracula’s castle scoffing at the existence of vampires: the audience knows at once that her hubris must be punished.

Cool, Yet Warm

Janet Malcolm, New York City, 1981

Forty-One False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers

by Janet Malcolm
Mess has always inspired fervent emotions in Janet Malcolm. It agitates her. It depresses her. She considers it her enemy. The job of a writer, she likes to remind us, is to vanquish mess—to wade onto the seething porch of actuality, pick out a few elements with which to make a story, and consign the rest to the garbage dump. Images of clutter and panic-inducing domestic chaos crop up frequently in her work, not just as metaphors for the failure or absence of art, but as advertisements for her own narrative discipline. But if literal messes appall Malcolm, they also fascinate and attract her.

The Salman Rushdie Case

Salman Rushdie, Brick Lane, London, 1988

Joseph Anton: A Memoir

by Salman Rushdie
A man living under threat of death for nine years is not to be blamed for occasionally characterizing his plight in grandiloquent terms. But one would hope that when recollecting his emotions in freedom and safety, he might bring some ironic detachment to bear on his own bombast. Hindsight, alas, has had no sobering effect on Rushdie’s magisterial amour propre. An unembarrassed sense of what he is owed as an embattled, literary immortal-in-waiting pervades his book.