The 80th birthday of Philip Roth inspires a festschrift of sorts over at New York Magazine, with Sam Lipsyte, Kathryn Schulz, James Franco (natch), and others weighing in on Roth’s Best Book and other vexed questions. (For the record, it’s Sabbath’s Theater.)
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?”
“To age is to understand that the powers of total recovery are gone, are no longer anticipated (except by those who, having lost their marbles, no longer know what to anticipate).” The epistolary legacy of writers such as Samuel Beckett, Saul Bellow, and Elizabeth Bishop offers invaluable insight into the process of growing older, writes Robert Fay for The Atlantic. See also our own Lydia Kiesling on the narrative possibilities of leaked emails.
We are all by now familiar with J.K. Rowling‘s elaborate, hand-drawn outlines for the Harry Potter series, but what if all plots could be simplified further? Down to, let’s say, graphs? And not even an infinite number of graphs, but just six? The Paris Review considers the work of Matthew Jockers, a literature professor who studies “the relationship between sentiment and plot shape in fiction.”