Even though James McBride (new National Book Award winner for The Good Lord Bird) is an accomplished jazz musician, he doesn’t listen to any music while writing. “Because I’m a musician, listening to music is…it’s a bit like work for me,” he told The Daily Beast for the “How I Write” series.
Pamela Paul’s recent New York Times piece on the “permanent reunion” Facebook has trapped us in and an 18-year-old’s op-ed in the New York Post about why the shallow connections of Facebook led him to quit, have me feeling queasy about checking my timeline. So, I’m re-reading Edan Lepucki’s essay about taking a social media detox instead. (Cue the cognitive dissonance of clicking the “like” button next to this entry.)
In the latest issue of The Boston Review, Elaine Scarry reviews Steven Pinker’s
The Better Angels of Our Nature. Pinker argues that literature, by bolstering man’s empathy, has lead to huge reductions in worldwide violence, a thesis that sounds dangerously close to the absurd pop-science of Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal.
The long-awaited follow-up to Yann Martel’s Booker-winner Life of Pi is out: Beatrice and Virgil. Also new, Elegy for April, a thriller by John Banville alter ego Benjamin Black; David Lipsky’s already much discussed interview with David Foster Wallace, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself; and, apparently hitting shelves ahead of its official release date, a book of philosophy by Marilynne Robinson, Absence of Mind.
This week in book-related infographics: an “Obsessively Detailed Map of American Literature’s Most Epic Road Trips.”
In an interesting turn of events, Amazon has opened its first brick-and-mortar store in Seattle: Amazon Books. Marketing information from the company’s website will help decide how to stock its shelves. Our own Michael Bourne announces that Amazon has purchased the English language.