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.”
The sound level of a typical quiet bedroom measures 30 decibels, but what if you still can’t concentrate on your reading? Well, maybe you should move to Minneapolis and use Steven Orfield’s “anechoic chamber,” which at -9 decibels is officially the quietest room in the world.
“A chemist colleague of mine runs a seminar in which art and science are brought together. And one such session was devoted to olfaction. And there was an olfactory physiologist from Columbia and a friend of his, a parfumier. Forgive my French accent. And the parfumier had made something unlike anything ever encountered on earth. And it had a very strong smell which aroused no associations and could not be compared to anything. One realized this was absolute novelty.” The Rumpus interviews Oliver Sacks about his new book, Hallucinations.
Jonah Lehrer has resigned from his staff position at the New Yorker, after Tablet Magazine revealed he had fabricated quotes–from Bob Dylan, no less!–in his bestseller Imagine: How Creativity Works, which since has been pulled from the market. Michael C. Moynihan, the journalist who discovered the deception, was interviewed by the Observer, saying he felt “horrible” watching vitriolic reactions pour in. Previously the book saw critique for its loose science in both The New Republic and The Millions.
The National Book Foundation announced this year’s “5 Under 35” authors. Three cheers for Jennifer duBois (A Partial History of Lost Causes), Stuart Nadler (The Book of Life), Haley Tanner (Vaclav & Lena), Justin Torres (We the Animals), and Claire Vaye Watkins (Battleborn, which we recently reviewed)!
Things you can learn from this interview with Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell: there is a genre called “Scandi-noir;” the time Mankell spent as a sailor acted as “a sort of university;” and the fact that Mankell has been married four times proves that he is an optimist.