If you’ve ever wondered how all those celebrity chefs can churn out so many cookbooks year after year, you should check out Julia Moskin’s confessions from a former “food ghost.”
In the new Granta, Adam Johnson writes about the mind-bending experience of traveling to North Korea, an experience which informed his Pulitzer-winning novel The Orphan Master’s Son. Perhaps the saddest anecdote — and there are a lot of sad anecdotes — is the one about the North Korean tour guide who couldn’t believe the author didn’t want to buy knockoff goods.
Scientists confirmed recently that writers are more likely to struggle with mental illness (sometimes, as recently noted, due to syphilis). Since we’re so used to our alcoholic literary greats, and a smattering of suicidal ones (Plath, Woolf, Thompson, Wallace–and many more), this comes as no great surprise. On a happier note, a new study using fMRIs and MFA students has found that writers show different brain patterns than “normal people” just writing: in fact they resemble “expert” thinking patterns of all professionals doing what they’re best at–musicians, athletes, competitive Scrabble players. I don’t know if I’m happier to learn the fMRIs found no gaping black holes, or that MFAs do in fact teach you something.
As part of their 80th anniversary celebration, the Academy of American Poets recently revamped their website. The updated website now boasts such features as “geographically relevant information (such as local poetry events),” “interviews with renowned poets,” and “free lesson plans tailored for K-12 teachers.” Go take a look for yourself. I recommend starting with Sally Van Doren’s poem, “Thief.”