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.
Granta has published translated writing from Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich. She writes: “In 1986 I had decided not to write about war again. For a long time after I finished my book War’s Unwomanly Face I couldn’t bear to see a child with a bleeding nose. I suppose each of us has a measure of protection against pain; mine had been exhausted. Two events changed my mind.” Find out more about Alexievich here.
Two journals started the week by showing off their fancy new faces. Gigantic launched a new web site for the magazine, featuring a chapter from Shya Scanlon‘s Forecast 42 and new fiction by J.A. Tyler. The Barnes & Noble Review debuted a toothsome redesign along with a sobering essay on book publishing by former Executive Editor-in-Chief of Random House, Daniel Menaker.
Out this week: The Color Master, a new short story collection by Aimee Bender; an English-language translation of The Infatuations by Javier Marias; and Brief Encounters with the Enemy, the new Saïd Sayrafiezadeh book that Scott Cheshire reviewed for us on Monday. Read more about these and other releases in our Great 2013 Second-Half Book Preview.