Last weekend The Southern Festival of Books took over Nashville. The latest installment of #LitBeat takes you to Ta-Nehisi Coates’s panel there, on the importance of studying–but not romanticizing–history.
“Guilt and a feeling of never being satisfied with what you’ve done. And a sense that you are inadequate and a big phony. All useful for a writer. I’m always being edited by my inner nun.” An interview with the inimitable George Saunders, author of Tenth of December, on his approach to humor. Pair with: our own reviews of his stories.
Ta-Nehisi Coates wants to make America less stupid about the Civil War. He recommends five books we should all read to gain a better understanding of American history during this war and assures us that “I’ve tried to think very hard about readability, and to offer books you might actually complete.” So no excuses, start here
This week in book-related infographics, round 2: Lapham’s Quarterly takes a look at the day jobs of famous authors, among them T.S. Eliot, who was responsible for processing reports on German debt, and Charlotte Bronte, who had laundry fees deducted from her pay. Pair with our own Emily St. John Mandel‘s essay on “Working the Double Shift” and “all the strangely varied occupations that a person accumulates when the primary objective is not to establish a career, per se, but just to pay the rent while they’re working on a novel.”
Ever since the advent of modern neuroscience, the language of the brain scientist has entered our common vocabulary. Words and phrases like “synapse,” “chemical imbalance” and “hardwired” point to its relevance in contemporary culture. At Page-Turner, a look at how cognitive language and our notion of attention affects the way we think about fiction and music, with particular reference to On Beauty by Zadie Smith and Orfeo by Richard Powers.
Fans of Seinfeld and Arrested Development might be interested in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, a comedy about a band of hapless, self-interested pub owners in which slapstick hijinks obscure the fact that nothing much ever happens (for example: a wheelchair race/brawl in a mall between two characters pretending to be handicapped to get girls). The first episode of the fifth season premiers this Friday but you can watch past episodes free at FX.