A pair of debuts are making waves this week. Amy Waldman’s The Submission ponders an alternate present in which a Muslim man is the anonymous winner of the search for a design to build the 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero. Ernest Kline’s Player One is a “genre-busting,” pop culture-infused take on the virtual reality future that awaits us.
“Once certain hurdles are cleared (a bit of talent, years of work), being a writer is like flying a kite in a storm in a field full of people flying kites in a storm.” Garth Greenwell on writing his first novel, the importance of failure, and giving oneself privacy to make mistakes. Pair with Meredith Turits’s Millions piece, featuring six writers looking back on their first novels.
Poetry readership among U.S. adults is the highest it’s been in 15 years—with young adult readership (among 18-24 year olds) nearly doubling—according to the National Endowment for the Arts’ 2017 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA). (For what it’s worth: The Millions has always loved poetry).
“When it comes to living in a democracy, Nato Thompson argues, nothing affects us more directly and more powerfully than culture. Culture suffuses the world we live in, from TV to music to advertising to sports. And all these things, Thompson writes in his new book, Culture as Weapon, ‘influence our emotions, our actions, and our very understanding of ourselves as citizens.'”
“Like walkie-talkies that require a button be pressed to speak and released to hear, does reading require that either the voice of the author or the voice of the reader’s consciousness be silenced at any given moment? Such an analogy suggests that reading is an act of hospitality toward another’s mind, in which we silence our voice in courtesy to the voice of another’s consciousness, a voice that alternates with our own in conversation.” John Biguenet on silent reading.
David Carr takes a look at The Atavist, whose team of multimedia gurus has won the attention (and seed funding) of Google founder Eric Schmidt. Of course, the outfit’s also been receiving generous attention for their quality work, too. (I mentioned them a few months ago.) More recently, however, certain scientific circles have fawned over the subject of their story The Electric Mind, which tracks one paralyzed woman and the scientists who developed the BrainGate technology which eventually got her moving… robotically.