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.
Recommended (Revolutionary) Reading: On why Kate Millett's Sexual Politics remains so relevant to today's most heated literary arguments, despite its being nearly fifty years old at this point.
Need more than just a hashtag to get ready for the new season of True Detective? Tom Nolan is here to help. At Salon, Scott Timberg interviews the biographer of Ross Macdonald, a crime fiction writer whose mysteries tackled the underbelly of California. You might want to read the new collection of Ross’s novels, or else our list of crime novels where women are the detectives.
Modern day celebrities aren't the only victims of Photoshop. Paula Byrne, a Jane Austen biographer, believes that Austen has been "airbrushed" on her £10 Bank of England note. The portrait makes her look like "a pretty doll with big doe eyes" and diminishes her reputation as an author, Byrne argues.
Meanwhile, in the commonwealth of Virginia, HB 516 is currently sailing through state legislature. What began as one mother's outraged response to her 17-year-old son's AP English assignment–reading Beloved by Toni Morrison–has morphed into a bill which would require school districts to do three things: flag any "sexually explicit" assigned material, allow parents to review all assigned readings to assess perceived levels of sexual explicitness, and finally, require teachers to provide alternate readings/avenues of study for any students whose parents deem particular content too inappropriate.