Ever spent the whole day reading The Hunger Games and then found yourself paranoid that a tribute was following you? Don’t worry; you aren’t crazy. Turns out that reading a really gripping novel can cause our brains to believe we are in the body of the protagonist, and this effect can last for days after reading according to a scientific study.
E. B. White is one of those writers you are liable to meet again and again in the course of a reading life, each time wearing a different expression. To children, he is the author of Charlotte’s Web; to college students, he is half of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. Later on, he helped define the voice of the early New Yorker. Now all those Whites have been brought together in the pages of In the Words of E. B. White: Quotations from America’s Most Companionable of Writers, an anthology of quotations edited by his granddaughter Martha White.
The CIA was known for unorthodox espionage techniques during the Cold War, but using Doctor Zhivago to undermine the U.S.S.R. is one of the strangest. The CIA helped print and distribute the banned book because it would make Soviets wonder “what is wrong with their government, when a fine literary work by the man acknowledged to be the greatest living Russian writer is not even available in his own country in his own language for his own people to read.”
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.
Catch it while you can: Charlie Rose‘s hour-long interview with Pedro Almodóvar and his muse, Penélope Cruz, touches on character, confidence, and control, and is currently available online. Almodóvar’s latest film, Broken Embraces, which I saw last summer in Madrid sans subtitles, was so visually stunning and well-acted that despite my meager translation the film enthralled. With a proper translation, it should be ravishing.