“Does handwriting matter?” That’s the question some researchers are working to answer and that Maria Konnikova tackles in a piece for The New York Times. The article ends by suggesting that “with handwriting, the very act of putting it down forces you to focus on what’s important… maybe it helps you think better,” which is doubtlessly encouraging to every writer who works on their drafts in longhand.
In his new book, Pill City, journalist Kevin Deutsch set out to tell the real story of how, following the 2015 Baltimore riots, Charm City’s streets became flush with heroin and pills. But now local writers are raising serious questions about the veracity of Deutsch’s account. Among others, The Wire creator David Simon has called the book “a wholesale fabrication.” Last week, Newsday announced they were “reviewing Deutsch’s work over the four years he worked here,” and the New York Times, where Deutsch has contributed, followed suit.
Most readers nurse particular fantasies of stepping into their favorite books. Whether they dream of enrolling at Hogwarts, or signing up for MI6 with James Bond, they usually have a stable of settings that function as a means of escape. So imagine how strange and conflicting it was to be Jonathan Gottschall, the English professor who got a chance to enter Fight Club.
New this week: Academy Street by Mary Costello; The Children’s Crusade by Ann Packer; After the Tall Timber by Renata Adler; Recipes for a Beautiful Life by Rebecca Barry; A Slant of Light by Jeffrey Lent; The Water Museum by Luis Alberto Urrea; All Involved by Ryan Gattis; Odysseus Abroad by Amit Chaudhuri; The Language of Paradise by Barbara Klein Moss; and Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes and I Refuse, two books by Per Petterson. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
“Maurice Sendak drew his partner Eugene after he died, as he had drawn his family members when they were dying. The moment is one he was compelled to capture, pin down, understand, see. Where many— maybe most—people look away, he wanted to render. He was very wrapped up in the goodbye, the flight, the loss; it was almost Victorian, to be so deeply entranced with the moment of death, the instinct to preserve or document it. It’s also the artist’s impulse: to turn something terrible into art, to take something you are terrified of and heartbroken by and make it into something else. For the time it takes to draw what is in front of you, you are not helpless or a bystander or bereft: You are doing your job.” On Maurice Sendak and the art of death.
“It’s not easy to choose only five books, so I made up my mind and decided to mention the five I can’t help reading again, once in a while, because they are still here for me today.” Here’s a list of five necessary French books that you should be reading, including works by Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Marguerite Duras.