“’These issues are constantly being brought to the surface in Roman literature, if you have eyes to see them,’ Beard said. ‘And, of course, having eyes to see them—that’s what the trick is.’” Rebecca Mead writes for the New Yorker about Mary Beard, the Cambridge classicist famous for her BBC programs on Roman life and for her handling of online harassment. For more from Beard, check out her interview with the Los Angeles Review of Books about the importance of the classics, and for more about online negativity, head to Salon‘s article on “Why female writers get trolled the most.”
A writer in her own right, Sybille Lacan reflects on her experience as the daughter of famous psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. She writes, “Father, for our birthdays, would give us superb gifts (I believe it took me far too long to understand it was not he who had picked them out).”
This is cool: in celebration of last week’s Banned Books Week, Chapel Hill Public Library held a competition for local artists to create new work based on books that have been banned or challenged. Trading cards were printed from the winning selections, which you can see along with a gallery of all the entries.
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.
Once a decade, Granta publishes a special “Best of Young American Novelists” issue featuring work from American fiction writers under the age of forty. The latest list includes Millions staffer and City on Fire author Garth Risk Hallberg, as well as Lauren Groff, Yaa Gyasi, Ottessa Moshfegh, and Claire Vaye Watkins, to name just a few. The issue will hit shelves on May 4th.