In the late 1860s, James Crichton-Browne, director of the West Riding Lunatic Asylum, gave Charles Darwin a collection of photographic portraits depicting the “afflicted and insane.” What followed was a six-year relationship in which both men corresponded about “the physical manifestations of natural selection.”
“My daughter spent some of this summer performing a dance, which she learned at summer camp, to a certain song by Shakira, called “Waka Waka.” It was earnest, funny, beautiful dance; however, I am, it seems, unable to watch my daughter perform her Shakira dance, to a song I don’t very much care for, without sobbing. There is no explanation for this excessive reaction—the dance is homely and human and not at all out of this world—but that the reaction is about beauty, and joy, and potential, and not sorrow. And this, it seems, is one aspect of what crying celebrates: the sublime.” Here is Rick Moody, life coach, from The Literary Hub. Here’s a recent Millions interview with Moody.
Time to dust off the old John Irving Recurring Themes Matrix because his new book In One Person is out today. Also out are Home by America's last Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison and Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel's hotly anticipated sequel to Booker- and Rooster-winning Wolf Hall. Also out is I Am a Pole, Stephen Colbert's "children's book" that was inspired by an epic visit from Maurice Sendak. Out in paperback is Ann Patchett's State of Wonder.
“Will excessive drinking unleash your creative energy? Who can say?” Over at The Toast, intrepid cataloger Ren Arcamone has compiled a list of things you could be doing instead of writing your thesis. Go read it instead of writing your thesis. Continue the stay of essay execution and check out Mallory Ortberg’s hilarious (and helpful) guide to some common signs that you might be dying in a Victorian novel.
It’s been a year since Nobel laureate and Irish poet Seamus Heaney passed away. His publishers are releasing a final collection of his poetry in November. In The Irish Independent, a brief retrospective on Heaney’s legacy, which includes his wife’s unique way of expressing her gratitude to his friends. You could also read Trent Morris’s tribute to Heaney for The Millions.
“The label ‘Immigrant Fiction’ derives from the same problematic Pantheon in which ‘Women’s Literature,’ ‘Black Literature,’ and more, exist. Unlike the genre of, say, science fiction, which describes the content and style of the writing, categories like ‘immigrant’ or ‘Black’ fiction seem to be concerned more with the author’s identity and/or perceived audience.” On literary categories and immigrant fiction, over at Guernica.