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.
Newsweek names “The Most Dangerous Man in Publishing.”Adam Kirsch interviewed about his new bio of Benjamin Disraeli.”Daily Routines: How writers, artists, and other interesting people organize their days.” (via Jacket Copy)David Horvitz discovers several pages of his writing in this year’s Dave Eggers-edited Best American Nonrequired Reading. He was not told that his work (pulled from his website) would be appearing in the book. Now he is peeved and has made several demands. (No permalinks, so check out the long Dec. 9 entry.) (Thanks Buzz)The LA Times unveils its Favorite Books 2008.Google’s year-end “Zeitgeist” of 2008 search activity. Breaking Dawn the unsurprising top search.Recently discovered aggregators of quality content: The Browser and Give Me Something to Read.This week’s Wikipedia treat: a gem of alternative punctuation: the “irony mark.” In the history section of that entry, take note of the “doubt point, certitude point, acclamation point, authority point, indignation point, and love point.”Scott gets to the bottom of the striking new cover designs on Dalkey Archive Press’ books.NPR features an excerpt from Firmin, a Millions favorite (and former LBC pick) that is soon to be published in a new edition by Delta, a Random House imprint.The Association of American Publishers teams with several celebs to create BooksAreGreatGifts.com and accompanying YouTube vid. “Books make great gifts because they are an amazing way to kill time while your web site is buffering.” – Jon Stewart. (thanks Laurie)
In an interview with Jonathan Lethem, the NBCC’s Jane Ciabaratti offers, inter alia, a sympathetic reading of Chronic City; both have more affection than Kakutani did for what Lethem calls “the claptrap contraption plot I invented.” Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal, in a flash of inspiration, assigns the book to the estimable Alexander Theroux – the only non-Latin writer who can credibly use the word “prosopographical” in a review. (But, attn editor: “not a jot” twice? in subsequent paragraphs?) A marathon bi-borough reading of the entire novel continues tonight at McNally Jackson.
When John Steinbeck wasn’t busy writing 600-page novels, he might have been a Cold War CIA spy. In 1952, Steinbeck approached the CIA and suggested he could do some spying on an upcoming European trip. “The pace and method of my junket together with my intention of talking with great numbers of people of all classes may offer peculiar advantages,” he wrote to an agent.
Over at Ploughshares, Daniel Peña traces a parallel between Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts and Gloria Anzaldúa’s hybrid text Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. As he puts it, “To separate Anzaldúa from the larger canon (and subsequently from those books she influenced) is to ignore her contribution to American literature. It’s to say she doesn’t belong in that kind of highbrow conversation, which she so obviously does—even Nelson acknowledges that she does.”
Have you heard the one about the Holocaust historian who loves Donald Trump? No, really. Eric Metaxas, most well-known for his biography of the theologian/anti-Nazi dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer, has claimed that Trump’s rhetoric is all just “schtick,” and that the man himself is “culturally Jewish.”