Does reading a novel for a few hours make you feel smarter? You’re not alone: a new study suggests that reading novels heightens activity in the left temporal cortex, also known as the part of the brain associated with receptivity to language. The best part? The changes last for five days.
A couple weeks ago, Matt Ashby and Brendan Carroll argued in a Salon piece that David Foster Wallace, who wrote an essay about the television and irony back in the early ‘90s, presciently diagnosed the danger of snark in our own age. Now Peter Finocchiaro, a senior editor at Salon, argues instead that we need irony more than we ever have. You could also read A-J Aronstein’s notes from the DFW Symposium.
As Alden Jones puts it, a “sex-death-art trifecta” is the core of The Small Backs of Children, the new book by Lidia Yuknavitch. At The Rumpus, he talks with the author about the novel, which centers on a war photographer who takes an iconic photo in Eastern Europe. You could also read the author’s Millions essay from last week.
New this week: Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie; The Visiting Privilege by Joy Williams; The Lost Landscape by Joyce Carol Oates; This is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison; Cries for Help, Various by Padgett Powell; and Above the Waterfall by Ron Rash. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
Recommended Reading: Bret Anthony Johnston on (not) writing what you know. His essay is an excerpt of Writer’s Notebook II, published by the folks at Tin House. (Related: we published Harper’s editor Christopher Beha’s essay in the book last year.)