“Thoreau did kill, cook and eat a woodchuck that was eating his beans. But he decided that was a lousy way to treat a woodchuck and he never did it again.” In celebration of his bicentennial, NPR sets straight five myths about Henry David Thoreau‘s diet, including the pernicious canard that he stole pies from neighbor’s windowsills. See also “My Summer with Henry,” on reading Thoreau’s Cape Cod on Cape Cod.
Samantha Chang, the director of Iowa’s Writing Workshop, weighed in on the Girls storyline in which Lena Dunham’s character gets accepted into the school’s MFA program. “It’s very possible that she could have gotten in,” Chang says of Hannah Horvath, Dunham’s character. Meanwhile, University of Iowa officials have apparently denied the HBO show’s request to film on-campus for its next season.
Gary Indiana posits that “no current literary label appealingly describes the kind of narratives [Renata Adler’s] Speedboat and Pitch Dark are.” This might be true. However in the name of moving forward with discussion, perhaps we can all go with Matthew Spektor’s summation of Adler’s debut novel: “if it’s ‘like’ anything at all, a steeplechase of [dazzling] hurdles could be it.”
At the Philadelphia Inquirer, neurologists look at cases where serious brain injury has actually brought about higher levels of creativity in artists, particularly where linguistic ability is harmed. “Language is the bully of the brain,” [one neurologist] says. “It takes up its own space and if something else gets crowded out, too bad.” (via Book Bench)
Could this be the start of a trend? HarperCollins paid the singer Billy Joel $3 million for a memoir back in 2008. Joel wrote The Book of Joel, the publisher edited it, and a June publication date was set. Last week, however, Joel abruptly backed out of the deal and apparently will return the portion of the advance he’s been paid. His reason? He told the Associated Press he “was not all that interested in talking about the past.”