Using pen names has been a common practice for, well, a very long time. George Eliot is a nom de plume, as are George Orwell and George Sand. Though not a George, journalist Sarah Hall chose to publish her fiction under a different name. She writes for The Guardian about this decision, the history of the pen name, and the reasons authors continue to use them.
In a Simpsons episode from the late nineties, Lisa Simpson, concerned that her mental skills may be deteriorating, manages to finagle her way onto a local TV news broadcast, where she urges the residents of Springfield to read two books: To Kill a Mockingbird and Harriet the Spy. At first glance, the two novels might not seem to have that much in common, but as Anna Holmes argues in a blog post for The New Yorker, the books share “ideas about the complexity, sophistication, and occasional wickedness of young girls’ imaginations.” (You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Malcolm Gladwell and To Kill a Mockingbird.)
“And so the book we have available to us is not the one she intended for us to see — and to those who knew her only as the private spouse of a public figure, Michelle McNamara emerges from these pages as much of a mystery as the Golden State Killer does, gone in the dark.” In Vulture, a profile of the late true crime writer Michelle McNamara whose book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, was published last week. From our archives: an essay on why one writer reads true crime novels.
Ever since the advent of modern neuroscience, the language of the brain scientist has entered our common vocabulary. Words and phrases like “synapse,” “chemical imbalance” and “hardwired” point to its relevance in contemporary culture. At Page-Turner, a look at how cognitive language and our notion of attention affects the way we think about fiction and music, with particular reference to On Beauty by Zadie Smith and Orfeo by Richard Powers.