According to a recent survey, Danes are the happiest people in the world. This came as a surprise, writes Mathilde Walter Clark, to most of her fellow Scandinavians, who know very well the unhappier elements of their daily lives. The problem, she suggests, is that words like “happiness,” “ambition” and “contentment” have subtly different meanings in different languages — in other words, happiness in Denmark isn’t the same thing as happiness in America. You could also read our own Emily St. John Mandel’s review of the Danish writer Jonas T. Bengtsson’s A Fairy Tale.
Live in New York? Like Flavorpill? Then you should probably mosey on down to their event on Thursday, where they’ll be listening to the songwriter Holly Miranda and talking with Lindsay Hunter about her new book, Don’t Kiss Me. (If you’ll recall, our own Nick Moran wrote about Lindsay’s work here and here.)
“The fact that Harry Potter midnight release parties were the event to go to as a teen was completely unprecedented in geek culture. You can draw a dotted line to the mainstreaming of geek culture through Harry Potter.” Twenty years after the publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Huffington Post asks authors, editors, and publishers how Rowling’s juggernaut changed reading and the world of Young Adult fiction. Then see this counterpoint from our own pages last year: There Is No Such Thing as the Young Adult Novel.
Did you major in social sciences or the humanities as an undergraduate? If so, it might’ve been because someone in your family had a mood disorder or a problem with substance abuse. A new survey published by Princeton University posits that “a family history of psychiatric conditions, such as autism and depression, could influence the subjects a person finds engaging.”
Smithsonian takes a look at Byliner and The Atavist and what the success and innovation of these two companies can tell us about the hopeful state of longform narrative journalism. Fast Company’s Co.Design ran an image heavy interview with The Atavist’s developer, Jefferson Rabb. I’d add Long Reads to the list too.
A new issue of The Quarterly Conversation has arrived, featuring an essay on Wizard of the Crow by QC creator Scott and a review of William T. Vollmann’s Poor People from Dave Munger. Lots of other good reviews in there too.Also via Scott, Political Theory Daily Review, a dense and daily collection of linksIn a Newsweek sidebar accompanying an excerpt of his book The American Religion, Harold Bloom names his “five most important books.” The most recent one to appear on the list? A tie, more or less, between Don Quixote and the complete works of Shakespeare. Bloom was also asked to admit to an important book he hadn’t read. His answer: “I cannot think of a major work I have not ingested.” That’s a lot of pages to store in one’s belly. (via Stephen)Good week for Mark Sarvas, first he announces that he’s sold his novel and now he’s off on his honeymoon. Filling in at TEV is Joshua Ferris, author of the much praised Then We Came to the End.And finally, a Baltimore Sun review had me intrigued by a new squirm-inducing non-fiction book by a former crime scene investigator for the Baltimore County police. Dana Kollmann’s book Never Suck a Dead Man’s Hand: Curious Adventures of a CSI gives a real-life look at a profession recently glamorized by TV show “CSI” and its many offshoots. Krall, however, describes a job both more boring and more odious than the one described on TV, but she does so with “dark humor,” which I’d imagine the job requires. The book’s title, for example, “comes from a story that involves a dead man, his hand and her attempts to get fingerprints on a freezing cold day.” Yikes.
“I wanted to offer my students an alternative to the purely confessional mode. I wanted them to write about themselves without falling into a paralyzingly portentous tone. I wanted more humor in their work, more complexity, more detail, more balance—more good writing. I wanted fewer italicized passages, less use of the breathless present tense. I wanted no more tears in the workshop, no more embarrassing scenes.” Emily Fox Gordon writes about trauma narratives in the classroom, the trouble with writing as therapy, and the key differences between confessing and confiding in an essay for The American Scholar.