Following a recent essay on the value of ambivalence, our own Mark O’Connell explores the nature of confidence in this week’s New York Times Magazine. Perhaps not surprisingly, he writes that this year’s Web Summit convinced him that tech moguls are congenitally more confident than writers.
Why should a college student major in English? It’s a question with hundreds of answers, but one of the most common is that reading, more so than other activities, makes you a better person. It sharpens your mind and hones your sense of morality. But what if this comforting idea — as close as you can get to a conviction held by all writers — has little to no basis in reality?
When Octavia Butler died in 2006, she left behind unseen short stories. Butler’s agent has discovered two unpublished stories in the author’s papers. “A Necessary Being” features a lonely alien leader, and “Childminder” is about mentoring telepaths. The two stories will be published this summer in the collection Unexpected Stories.