Little Women: A Literary Pilgrimage

The Toast’s previous literary pilgrimages can be found here.

As soon as I say the word “Concord” to the woman selling rail tickets, I’m terrified that she knows everything about me.

After all, if you don’t have a car of your own, you have to actually tell someone you want to go to Concord before you can get there. With a population of only 17,000, it’s not a destination for anyone to visit casually. You either live there, or you’re going on a pilgrimage.

I was, on that day in 2010, wearing the Kate Beaton shirt that features the three Brontë sisters. I had a notebook. There was only one place I could be headed.

Orchard House is about a mile and a half away from the rail station. You take the Fitchburg/South Acton line, get off, and walk.

I’m nervous that everyone I pass on the road knows everything about me.

You have to pass Emerson’s house before you get to the Alcott home, and I felt like he was watching me from the transcendental beyond and feeling a bit snubbed. Most people I saw on the road were headed towards Orchard House. Gillian Armstrong has yet to make a film about Ralph Waldo Emerson that stars Winona Ryder and Christian Bale.

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The Judgement of Paris

The Judgement of Paris, as I assume you are aware, is one of the most popular and also the best themes in classical European painting, because it’s based on a legend where three supremely powerful goddesses asked a worthless male mortal to rank them in order of attractiveness in order to win a sculpture of a fruit. Which says so much in such a short amount of time about ancient Greek sexual politics, I think; Yes definitely the Queen of Heaven wants to know if some Trojan shepherd thinks she’s still hot.

(An aside: the correct thing to do when three murder-eyed, placid-lipped, notoriously temperamental immortals show up on your doorstep in the nude and ask you to rank them in order of beauty is to BEG OFF. “You’re all so lovely! I couldn’t possibly decide! Who am I, a mere mortal, to declare all three of you anything less than perfect? You’ll notice I sacrificed three flawless bulls to all of you this morning, please do not decimate my flocks or level my city, goodbye, worship you tomorrow.” NOT: “Sure, okay. Turn around, let me get the full picture.”)

Anyhow, it’s a great story, and pretty much every dude born between the years 1100 and 1850 with an ounce of sprezzatura and a brush tried his hand at painting it at least once.

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Your Fandom Autobiography


It is the summer before seventh grade and that show is on every weekday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. You know that show. The one with the sensitive alien dude who was born in an egg and the girl with the rainbow hair who you wish you could be even though her best friend is invisible and she’s kind of crazy, but it’s a cute kind of crazy, and her friend turns out to be real in the end so it doesn’t matter anyway. That show. It’s in repeats right now but might come back next fall. There are only twenty-six episodes of that show so in two weeks and change you can see them all though sometimes your mom makes you go to the chiropractor for your sinus headaches so you have to tape it. The same tape, one episode over another, until the image looks like strips of soggy newsprint left out in the rain too long.


You do an AOL keyword search, which is what you do back then. You go on usenet, which is what you do back then. You join a letter-writing campaign, which is what you do back then. You harangue the show’s producer about the general downward spiral in the myth arc in season two, which is what you do back then.

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Modern Classics Without The Modernism

“Well, here we are, at the lighthouse.” It had been a wonderful day, walking to the lighthouse.
- “To The Lighthouse,” Virginia Woolf

“Don’t feel bad,” his father said, clapping a hand on his shoulder. “Things fall apart sometimes. We’ll just buy a new one.” They did, and then everything was fine.

- “Things Fall Apart,” Chinua Achebe

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A Brief History of Women at the Tour de France

Jen See’s previous (sportif) work for The Toast can be found here.

July means long days at the beach and ice cream in the shade. It also means bike racing. For three weeks each July, the Tour de France hurtles through the countryside in a blur of kaleidoscopic color. There are sunflowers and rainstorms and massive mountain passes. The riders’ deeply etched muscles shift and twist under leathered skin. Their legs tell stories of long kilometers on the bike and of exactly what happens when the human body slides across pavement at 70 km/hr. To follow the Tour is to read an adventure novel packed with glorious exploits, colorful characters, and heartwrenching defeats.

For most of its history, women have been relegated to the sidelines at the Tour de France. In a break with tradition, there will be one day of racing for women at this year’s Tour. La Course, which takes place on the race’s final day, will showcase the top women riders in the world. Still, the most visible role for women at the Tour de France remains the podium hostesses. Each day, the podium girls hand out flowers and kisses to the race winners. The ritual reflects ideas about a woman’s place that, like a Twinkie at the corner store, have managed to survive unaltered to the present day. 

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Every Canadian Novel Ever

Previously in this series: Every Irish Novel Ever. This post was brought to you by @askmullan.

1. Will the Cod Return, Or Must We Move to Toronto?

2. Only the Jews Know Montreal

3. The Next Three Chapters Are Set in the 1830s Bush For No Reason But Then We’ll Be Back to This 1970s University Women’s Studies Department

4. She Briefly Considers Moving to the States For Her Career But Then Realizes She Must Stay With Her People

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The One-Year Anniversary Of Dad Magazine

Today the Toast celebrates the first year of the world’s only magazine for dads and by dads.

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Link Roundup!

Look, I’m a asshole who is happy to pay $9 for a Paleo convenience meal, sure. CREED ARMS, as Mallory would say. But I don’t want to pay $9 for a Paleo convenience meal called NOBLE SAVAGE. Where did they focus-group that? A single Crossfit box? SOME OF US are knee-jerk whiny progressives who would still enjoy a nice grass-fed beef bolognese with zucchini noodles they didn’t have to cook themselves.




Yes, thank you, earbuds are disgusting and painful and fit no one:

The modern earphone comes in two main types—both of which are deeply flawed. The prevailing earbud design (the kind often included with the purchase of, say, an Android device) involves silicone bulbs that jam deep into your ear canals, creating a seal. Some people have no problem with these small invaders. But many others among us—myself included—find them intrusive. Painful, even.


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