The sound level of a typical quiet bedroom measures 30 decibels, but what if you still can't concentrate on your reading? Well, maybe you should move to Minneapolis and use Steven Orfield's "anechoic chamber," which at -9 decibels is officially the quietest room in the world.
Most readers nurse particular fantasies of stepping into their favorite books. Whether they dream of enrolling at Hogwarts, or signing up for MI6 with James Bond, they usually have a stable of settings that function as a means of escape. So imagine how strange and conflicting it was to be Jonathan Gottschall, the English professor who got a chance to enter Fight Club.
“‘It is the novelist’s innate cowardice that makes him depute to imaginary personalities the sins that he is too cautious to commit for himself.’ The autobiography of the imagination then is an autobiography of our base desires, the things we haven’t done but have longed for. It is our fantasies, our secrets from which we curate by redaction how someone else sees us. It is an autobiography of instinct, desire.” Emilia Phillips on poetry as the autobiography of the imagination, over at Ploughshares.
In the late seventies, when Susan Sontag was recovering from cancer, she hired an assistant to help her catch up on correspondence. Her editor recommended Sigrid Nunez, who began working for Sontag and ended up moving in with her. Nunez now recalls the experience with a mixture of gratitude and pain. In Dissent, a look at the economy of creative assistants.
Amazon has just dropped the price on the Kindle yet again, but it comes with a big caveat. The Kindle can now be had for $114 if you select a version of the device that peppers you with special offers (Examples: $10 for $20 Amazon.com Gift Card; $6 for 6 Audible Books; etc). Before the purists out there go too crazy, it may be some consolation that these offers appear only on the home screen and screensaver; they don't interrupt reading.
Over at Aeon, Jenny Davidson explores what makes a great sentence. As she puts it, “A great sentence makes you want to chew it over slowly in your mouth the first time you read it. A great sentence compels you to rehearse it again in your mind’s ear, and then again later on.” Pair with our own Michael Bourne’s essay on sentence structure for creative writers.