In the latest issue of The Boston Review, Elaine Scarry reviews Steven Pinker’s
The Better Angels of Our Nature. Pinker argues that literature, by bolstering man’s empathy, has lead to huge reductions in worldwide violence, a thesis that sounds dangerously close to the absurd pop-science of Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal.
The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, the forthcoming debut effort by sometime Millions contributor Elif Batuman, gets an intriguing write-up in Publishers Weekly.
“Could I write a novel about fugues in the form of a fugue?” Margot Singer wonders in The Paris Review, remembering the process of writing her first novel and considering other authors – Joyce, Nabokov, Woolf – who have tried to compose words musically. See also: our own Jacob Lambert on whether to write with background music on.