In the current issue of Tin House Robin Romm has a very compelling essay on the value of mean-spirited judgement in our novels, especially as empathy becomes reified into fiction’s greatest gift and virtue, or even treated as a therapeutic offering.
“Every journal is a confessional. If it’s in the first person, it cannot help but be. Unless the author of it lies to himself—and that makes it even more of a confessional. For some reason, travel brings out confessions one would never make at home. I am trying to draw the rake of my journal over the landscape. Perhaps I will uncover something.” Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s new collection of travel journals, Writing Across the Landscape, is out now. Travel on back to The Millions for Kate McCahill’s essay on traveling with books.
Booker-snubbed, but still widely anticipated, Philip Hensher’s King of Badgers is out today. As are Ali Smith’s There But for The, Erin Morgenstern’s uber-hyped debut The Night Circus, and The Taste of Salt by Martha Southgate, who wrote here about writers’ work getting better as they get older.
Husband and wife writing duo Matthew Seal and Julie Bruton-Seal will launch their new book, Make Your Own Aphrodisiacs, just in time for Valentine’s Day. The couple, who live in Britain, (and who are by no means spring chickens), are encouraging people to look at natural ways of boosting their libido and to remove some of the myths and taboos surrounding aphrodisiacs.
Recommended Reading: Oliver Burkeman on a new group of optimistic thinkers.
Ever thought that writing a novel was like a video game you just couldn’t win? In the new video game The Novelist, players count pages not bodies as they try to help the protagonist balance writing with his family life. “There’s no winning or losing,” designer Kent Hudson said. “[M]y hope is that as you’re presented with the same fundamental question … over the course of the game, that you start to learn about your own values.”