Recommended Reading: a piece from the New York Review of Books blog on modern attention spans and what they mean for literature. Hint: it’s not looking too promising. Tim Parks closes with a prediction that “the novel of elegant, highly distinct prose, of conceptual delicacy and syntactical complexity, will tend to divide itself up into shorter and shorter sections, offering more frequent pauses where we can take time out. The larger popular novel, or the novel of extensive narrative architecture, will be ever more laden with repetitive formulas, and coercive, declamatory rhetoric to make it easier and easier, after breaks, to pick up, not a thread, but a sturdy cable.”
Although children’s earliest memories often don’t stay with them, as this new article on Aeon describes, babies form emotional connections and intellectual attitudes that last the rest of their lives. So read to your newborn, according to Jason Boog (Born Reading), even if she doesn’t yet know the words.
Now that the Library of Congress is shut down, it’s as good a time as any to remember why we have it in the first place. At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova looks through a collection of vintage catalog cards, two of which include early entries for A Room of One’s Own and Ulysses.
Jack Ryan really exists and even teaches at the U.S. Naval Academy. Vulture’s Dan Solomon met the real Jack Ryan and discussed what it’s like to have the same name as Tom Clancy’s hero. No, he has never used the connection as a pick-up line. Pair with: Our in memoriam of Clancy.
“I think that every novelist of the kind of novels that I write has in them maybe one really good book, but the trouble with so many novelists is that they keep on writing novels even when they run out of ideas.” Forrest Gump author Winston Groom on why it’s taken him 20 years to write his new novel. Pair with our recent three-way interview with writers Emily Barton, Alexander Chee, and Whitney Terrell, all of whom needed a decade for their most recent books.