Scientists confirmed recently that writers are more likely to struggle with mental illness (sometimes, as recently noted, due to syphilis). Since we’re so used to our alcoholic literary greats, and a smattering of suicidal ones (Plath, Woolf, Thompson, Wallace–and many more), this comes as no great surprise. On a happier note, a new study using fMRIs and MFA students has found that writers show different brain patterns than “normal people” just writing: in fact they resemble “expert” thinking patterns of all professionals doing what they’re best at–musicians, athletes, competitive Scrabble players. I don’t know if I’m happier to learn the fMRIs found no gaping black holes, or that MFAs do in fact teach you something.
Don’t Cry author Mary Gaitskill reviews Gillian Flynn’s wildly successful thriller, Gone Girl, for the pages of Bookforum. What she finds is that the book isn’t really frightening because of its plot per se, but rather because its two main characters “do not resemble actual people so much as grotesquely smiling masks driven by forces of extreme artifice, and it’s exactly that extreme artificial quality that’s frightening to the point of sickening.” For what it’s worth, Edan Lepucki, Michael Bourne, Ed Park, Janet Potter, and Jennifer duBois each named Flynn’s book in their most recent Year in Reading pieces.
New this week are Ron Rash’s The Cove, Brian Evenson’s Immobility, and Volume Two of Susan Sontag’s Journals (all books highlighted in our January preview). Out in paperback this week is David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King, from which we recently ran a previously unpublished excerpt.
We are only a few days away from our annual 2010 Year in Reading series! Over the past couple of months, we’ve asked dozens of readers, writers, and thinkers to tell us about the best book they read all year. On December 1st, we’ll begin posting pieces from some of the biggest names in literature and publishing. Look for more announcements on the site and twitter over the next few weeks. While you wait, check out last year’s Year in Reading series to get in the spirit!
A while back, we noted that Tumblr had begun hiring editors and reporters to cover and curate the site’s social stories and original content. Recently, that (vaguely Soviet sounding) Department of Editorial launched the first iteration of its work: Storyboard. Details on participation can be read here.
Shirley Clarke, older sister of Elaine Dundy (who wrote Millions favorite The Dud Avocado), was an Academy Award-winning filmmaker. If you’re curious about her work, you’ll be happy to learn that Milestone Films will soon begin their Shirley Clarke Project by releasing her restored documentaries, and on Friday, May 4th, they’ll be releasing her first film, The Connection. You can check out a trailer here. (via)