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.
Would you eat the marshmallow or would you resist temptation? That is the question. Our own Michael Bourne gets to the meat of why the mallow experiment fascinates us at The New York Times Magazine. “The tale of the marshmallows, as presented in Goleman’s book, read like some science-age Calvinist parable. Was I one of the elect, I wondered, a child blessed with the moral fortitude to resist temptation? Or was I doomed from age 4 to a life of impulse-driven gluttony?”
We fully expect all Christmas-observant Millions readers to have gifted (and received) at least one book this week. The Toast expects the same of their readers, and have provided a very handy key to choosing and/or deciphering passive-agressive literary presents.
If at some point in your life you lose a beloved pet, and if, while mourning, you decide to write an obituary, know this — whatever you write will not be as good as E.B. White’s tribute to his dog. (You can read more pieces like it in the perfectly-titled E.B. White on Dogs.)