Jonathan Franzen spent the first half of his life thinking about literature, now he plans to devote the other half to birds. It looks like Freedom is becoming reality as he puts on his bird-watching binoculars again to discuss the “appalling” songbird hunting in the Mediterranean for National Geographic.
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.
“You don’t have to immediately quit your job to become a writer. You need only to start writing.” The New York Times transcribes an excerpt from the “Dear Sugars” podcast with Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond. For more writerly advice, see our own columnists Swarm & Spark on whether writing a novel will jeopardize your mental health.
Friday would have been Ray Bradbury’s 94th birthday, which is why Dan Piepenbring, at The Paris Review Daily, looked back on one of Bradbury’s classic stories and picked out some choice quotes from his Art of Fiction interview. Piepenbring also pointed out that the story gets a mention in, among other places, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. You could supplement this by reading Tanjil Rashid on the author’s Middle East connection.
“Since the middle of the 20th century, the academy has conditioned us to stay grounded within texts and steer clear of writers’ biographies for insights while biographers are often timid about the kind of playful speculation that we can undertake here in Slate. Readers, myself included, tend to wonder about the sources for characters the likes of Kurtz, Sherlock Holmes, and Jay Gatsby—larger-than-life, mysterious, existing on a kind of separate plane—and in doing so we are continuing the quests of the narrators who tried first (Marlow, Watson, and Carraway).” Matthew Pearl asks: was Robert Louis Stevenson the blueprint for Conrad‘s Kurtz?
Discovery of the Week: Fairy tales are older than previously thought. Researchers have traced stories back to prehistoric and bronze age times. For example, Beauty and the Beast and Rumplestiltskin “can be securely traced back to the emergence of the major western Indo-European subfamilies as distinct lineages between 2,500 and 6,000 years ago.” Kirsty Logan writes about the problem with fairy tales.