Tracing the biological origins of aesthetics, Harvard Professor E.O. Wilson argues for a tighter bond between the humanities and the sciences and identifies the metaphor as the wedge that will keep them forever divided.
“Save everything, she said. Everything. When your archive gets bought, they pay by the cubic foot.” Sarah Manguso in The New York Times about drafts in an era of digital writing. And while we're on the subject , here's what Ben Fountain, Emily St. John Mandel, Emma Straub and a passel of other writers have to say about writing that elusive first draft.
“I have learned to consume them in secret, in my own home, reading them the way you would eat a bag of M&M’s that you keep stashed behind the kale chips.” Jake Tobin Garrett for Electric Literature about the allure of self-help books. See also:“Unleashing the Essence of Self-Help Books in Three Simple Steps.”
It’s a common trope in writing courses that young artists need a dose of childlike creativity. Self-help books for people with writer’s block are filled with callbacks to childhood interests. But is it possible, as Tasha Golden argues at the Ploughshares blog, that idealizing children isn't the answer to our problems?
Amazon has given its entire front page over to a "letter" from CEO Jeff Bezos touting Dan Brown's forthcoming gnostic thriller The Lost Symbol. It's a mix of hyperbole and "thrilling" intrigue. My favorite excerpts: "This is one of the most anticipated publishing events of all time." "The book remains so deeply under wraps that we've agreed to keep our stockpile under 24-hour guard in its own chain-link enclosure, with two locks requiring two separate people for entry." Bezos goes on to promise that Amazon will deliver Kindle owners the book "wirelessly while [they] sleep."
New this week: Flings by Justin Taylor; We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas; The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar; Sweetness #9 by Stephan Eirik Clark; The Undertaking by Audrey Magee; Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher; and a new translation of a French children’s book by Lydia Davis. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
I’ve written before about the excellently titled series Novelists in Restaurants Eating Food. It lets some of our foremost literary minds reflect on places like Fallon and Byrne and Buffalo Wild Wings. Now, Millions contributor Laura van den Berg writes about Cafe Azteca in Lawrence, MA, where they make shrimp fajitas that inspire mouth-watering daydreams. Sample quote: “Love of food can be love’s most sincere form—especially when avocados are involved.”