Over at Bloom, Dr. Francine Toder—a retired psychotherapist and author of The Vintage Years, who learned to play the cello in her 60s—writes about the neuroscience studies that support creative blooming in later life. Check out also this excerpt from The Vintage Years.
A startling conclusion from this data visualization of where in words each letter of the alphabet tends to fall: “the most common word may be ‘the, but the most representative word is ‘toe.’ ” (Also available: detailed methodology and algorithms for the data geeks; an explanation of data-viz as a narrative form for everyone else.)
On The Nervous Breakdown this week, J.E. Fishman considers the book review practices of The New York Times: “My view is very much eastern, very much old school, where a book review from the Times was the only sure sign that an author had arrived. But maybe it’s time to rethink that, and this rethinking has been long overdue.”
“On the day I moved in, without giving it any thought, we started to refer to one storage space—there are three, two low-ceilinged ones on either side of the pitch-roofed room and one closet—as ‘the bad area.’ We had barely walked in, we (at least I) had forgotten the ghost, and here we were—‘the bad area.’” Amie Barrodale writes at The Paris Review Daily about life in a haunted apartment.
In Bogotá, Colombia, a garbage collector by the name of Jose Gutierrez has been working tirelessly to rescue thrown-away children’s books for use in his homemade community library. If this doesn’t immediately call to mind Bohumil Hrabal’s classic Too Loud a Solitude, then it might be time for a re-read. Also, check out this Millions essay by John Yargo on Hrabal’s rambling fiction.
The deadline for DIAGRAM‘s essay contest is October 31, but mostly I just wanted an excuse to link to previous winner Cheyenne Nimes‘ “SECTION 404 OF THE CLEAN WATER ACT AND THE SANTA CRUZ RIVER SAND SHARK, SUBTITLED ‘THIS TROUBLESOME REGULATORY CONSTRAINT’.“
“An artist you love occupies a weird in-between place, where they’re somehow a little more than a father, but a little less than a neighbour. They can permanently re-organize your consciousness but they can’t sell you a Coke. You feel you know them more than anyone you actually know, which means that you don’t really know a damn thing. I feel I know Elliott Smith, but if I picture him in front of me, I find myself picturing a tiny figurine, or Mount Rushmore.” Sasha Chapin has written an intensely personal essay about Elliott Smith for Hazlitt. Here is The Millions’ own Torch Ballads & Jukebox Music column to satisfy any lingering musical urges.