“A chemist colleague of mine runs a seminar in which art and science are brought together. And one such session was devoted to olfaction. And there was an olfactory physiologist from Columbia and a friend of his, a parfumier. Forgive my French accent. And the parfumier had made something unlike anything ever encountered on earth. And it had a very strong smell which aroused no associations and could not be compared to anything. One realized this was absolute novelty.” The Rumpus interviews Oliver Sacks about his new book, Hallucinations.
“Jealousy baffles me. It’s so mysterious and it’s so pervasive. … And yet I’ve never read a study that can parse to me its loneliness, or its longevity, or its grim thrill. For that, we have to go to fiction because the novel is the lab that has studied jealousy in every possible configuration. In fact, I don’t know that it’s an exaggeration to say that if we didn’t have jealousy, we wouldn’t even have literature.” New York Times Book Review editor Parul Sehgal takes listeners to church in her TED Talk, “Ode to Envy.”
It doesn't get much better than James Wood on Joy Williams: "Nothing is stranger (and funnier) in Williams’s work than her details. Like her forms, they only resemble conventional realist details, an atmosphere perhaps encouraged by her flat, functional sentences (“They danced. Sam had quite a bit to drink”). The details are frequently surreal, magical, hallucinogenic, delivered in a cool, dispassionate, routine manner."
"The idea came to Mr. Mallory one night as he sat on his couch watching an old favorite, Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a lamp switch on in the apartment across the street." Published under a pseudonym, former executive editor Daniel Mallory's debut novel The Woman in the Window was acquired and published by his own imprint. Pair with: an essay about the emergence of "reimagined thrillers" that create characters out of setting.
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.