James Joyce inspires a lot of English papers but not songs. Yet musician Casey Black based his song “Happiness” off of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. With lyrics like, “So I walk the Dublin streets like they were passageways through my soul,” we think Joyce would approve.
Dutch researchers are using moistened electrode caps to measure the brain waves, heart rate, galvanic skin response and facial expressions on an author and fifty of his readers. They hope to find patterns “that may help illuminate links between the way art is created and enjoyed, and possibly the nature of creativity itself.”
Listen to Pnin author Vladimir Nabokov read “An Evening of Russian Poetry” in the style—nay, as “an impersonation, in iambic pentameter, with fancy rhymes”—of that book’s titular professor.
Before his death of natural causes in 2008, Henry Gustave Molaison had the world’s most famous brain. At 27, Molaison permanently lost the ability to form new memories, which led to him spending the rest of his life in “thirty-second loops of awareness.” In the LRB, Mike Jay reviews a new book on Molaison, Permanent Present Tense.
The diary novel may be “an under-attended” genre, but Johannah King-Slutzky is trying to remedy that. In an essay for The Hairpin she traces the diary novel’s history from the Victorian era to Go Ask Alice while examining the genre’s balance of “melodrama and awkward moralizing” with the potential for subversion.
“How can you write a complete story without a conventional plot? We often hear that in short stories, the main character must change. But in some stories, including some by Grace Paley, the characters don’t change. Instead, her stories change the reader. You’re different by the time you reach the end.” We’ve told you about The Atlantic’s “By Heart” series plenty of times before. This week, it’s Alice Mattison, who touches on everything from character development to the strange stories of Grace Paley.
E-paper continues to get press. The New York Times talks up the technology’s potential for newspapers. See also: The digital future of the book.MetaxuCafe is covering the Pen World Voices Festival.Sara Gran, much praised for her book Dope and her blog has a new edition of her book, Come Closer, coming out.
What is deracination, and why is it key to understanding American fiction? In her novel Housekeeping, Pulitzer laureate Marilynne Robinson defines it as “the free appreciation of whatever comes under one’s eye,” inspired by the Western sentiment of “feeling no tie of particularity to any single past or history.” In the Boston Review, Jess Row states that deracination is “a long-lived and nearly universal trope in white American literature,” claiming it represents “an American ideal: not to strip from the roots, but to de-race oneself.”