John Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar isn’t the only vintage science fiction novel making waves this week. Andrew Joron takes a look at “German fantasist” Paul Scheerbart’s Lesabéndio – a 1913 novel that was recently reissued by the folks at Wakefield Press.
Sara Majka’s debut collection Cities I’ve Never Lived In is forthcoming from Graywolf Press. At Longreads, check out one of her short stories from the collection on working in soup kitchens across the country. Pair with our celebration of Short Story Week for recommendations, reviews, and more.
Fanfiction has been gaining mainstream popularity and cultural heft – just take our own Elizabeth Minkel‘s Year in Reading post as evidence. For those of us with less experience in the fic community, Vulture has assembled a comprehensive “Guide to the Fanfiction Explosion,” complete with infographics on Harry Styles fic, an explanation of why Annie Proulx isn’t thrilled about Brokeback Mountain spinoffs, and, of course, a syllabus for further reading.
The e-book subscription service Oyster has recently launched The Oyster Review, and we have reason to be excited: the first issue names our own Emily St. James Mandel‘s Last Night in Montreal “The Book of the Week” and features a look at the novel written by former Millions intern Rachel Hurn.
“Life is worth less than a line of Baudelaire’s poetry.” These two lyric essays by Chen Li over at Asymptote Journal are economical and well-worth the read. Though Chen Li is from Taiwan, he writes in Chinese; this syllabus of Chinese writing and the “New China” from Casey Walker at The Millions pairs quite nicely.
Scientists confirmed recently that writers are more likely to struggle with mental illness (sometimes, as recently noted, due to syphilis). Since we’re so used to our alcoholic literary greats, and a smattering of suicidal ones (Plath, Woolf, Thompson, Wallace–and many more), this comes as no great surprise. On a happier note, a new study using fMRIs and MFA students has found that writers show different brain patterns than “normal people” just writing: in fact they resemble “expert” thinking patterns of all professionals doing what they’re best at–musicians, athletes, competitive Scrabble players. I don’t know if I’m happier to learn the fMRIs found no gaping black holes, or that MFAs do in fact teach you something.
The Millions is excited to be a founding member of a new ad venture called The Staff Recommends, John Warner and Andrew Womack, both of whom are associated with The Morning News and its wonderful Tournament of Books are behind the effort. The Staff Recommends is unique in that it only features books that “pass muster” with Warner, the venture’s editor and ombudsman. The first selection can be seen at the end of our “Recent Articles” section on The Millions front page and also in the sidebar on article pages. Enjoy!
Do our brains determine how we write? Joyce Dyer explores the possibility that genre is influenced by how our brains are wired but wonders if that limits us. “The page may be forcing compromises that the brain, in such close relationship with the mind, must rightly refuse,” she writes.