“If you didn’t feel you were discovering something as you wrote your memoir, don’t publish it. Instead hit the delete key, and then go congratulate yourself for having lived a perfectly good, undistinguished life. There’s no shame in that.” Neil Genzlinger at the New York Times lays some ground rules for those compelled to write memoirs.
Doors of Perception author Aldous Huxley requested a dose of LSD as he succumbed to laryngeal cancer in 1963. Three weeks later, Huxley’s widow, Laura Archera, wrote a letter describing the experience (“the most beautiful death”) to her brother-in-law. Today the prescription of psychedelic drugs to terminally ill patients is less uncommon than you might expect.
If your default mood hovers between melancholy and despair, you may be cheered (or at least made a bit less glum) by this argument that striving for happiness is bad for us in the long run. Mari Ruti makes the case that a “happy, balanced life” depends in large part on a kind of emotional numbness.
“We have a customer who eats Bibles. She’s very nice, but she will walk up to a section, rip out a page, and eat it. She much prefers Catholic versions—she won’t touch King James Bibles.” This interview with the owner of Brattle Book Shop in Boston illustrates the peculiar idiosyncrasies of daily bookstore life. For all you romantics out there, here is a love letter to the brick-and-mortar bookstore.
Rita J. King investigates the ways storytelling is being influenced by Twitter. Indeed, she writes that “every five days, a billion tiny stories are generated by people around the world … [and] the tweets are being archived by the Library of Congress as part of the organization’s mission to tell the story of America.”
New this week: Amnesia by Peter Carey; Outline by Rachel Cusk; The First Bad Man by Miranda July; Binary Star by Sarah Gerard; Bonita Avenue by Peter Buwalda; The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins; Refund by Karen Bender; In Some Other World, Maybe by Shari Goldhagen; Harraga by Boualem Sansal; and West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 First-Half Book Preview.
Although children's earliest memories often don't stay with them, as this new article on Aeon describes, babies form emotional connections and intellectual attitudes that last the rest of their lives. So read to your newborn, according to Jason Boog (Born Reading), even if she doesn't yet know the words.