Jessica Love writes for The American Scholar about some recent psychological studies on the art and perspective of storytelling. Of particular interest is the way “the first person does seem to encourage us to identify with the narrator, especially when that narrator is a lot like us.” Not that identifying with narrators is the primary purpose of reading, as the New Yorker reminds us in a piece against “relatability,” but it’s something to consider the next time you pick up a novel and find a character who seems to be just like you.
Last week marked the release of The Heart is Strange, a new collection of John Berryman poems released to coincide with the centenary of the poet’s birth. At The Paris Review Daily, Dan Piepenbring digs through the magazine’s interview archives to find Berryman’s account of meeting W.B. Yeats. Pair with: Stephen Akey on Berryman’s classic The Dream Songs.
Over at Aeon, Alana Massey writes about memory and how the internet archives personal data. In her own words, “Because the archiving technology captures only snapshots of a site at a given time, results might not be an exact replica of the site as it was. As I learned from the fragments of our site, things such as embedded media might be missing and scripts are unlikely to work. After all, a toy boat is hardly its former self after a lifetime at the bottom of the sea. No matter how intact an archive, it can never fully reconstruct the texture and completeness of the original memory.”
A new anthology out from Da Capo Press, Bound to Last: 30 Writers on Their Most Cherished Book, includes an essay by David Foster Wallace’s widow, Karen Green, on how books helped her cope with his death: “I’ll try not to use the word survive. I think I’ve determined, by trial and error, that certain underlined, highlighted, and dog-eared books, in conjunction with pharmaceuticals, are beneficial after a trauma. What was it the realtor called it? ‘The Incident.’ Books can be helpful after an Incident.” (Thanks, Diavanna)
A new MOOC from the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program is scheduled to begin on June 28. “How Writers Write Poetry” is free and open to the public, and it will feature craft talks from poets such as Robert Hass and Kwame Dawes. A fiction-writing course is also scheduled for September. (Related: Read how several Iowa MFA students describe a typical day in the program.)
“When it started almost 15 years ago, [Google Books] … seemed impossibly ambitious,” writes Scott Rosenberg. “An upstart tech company that had just tamed and organized the vast informational jungle of the web would now extend the reach of its search box into the offline world.” But these days, Google’s moonshot has turned into a “mundane reality.” How?