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.
To kick off 2010, we at The Millions are thrilled to announce that Emily St. John Mandel has joined us as a regular contributor. Emily lives in Brooklyn. Her first novel, Last Night In Montreal, was recently published by Unbridled Books; her second novel, The Singer’s Gun, will be published by the same press in May 2010. Her pieces for The Millions are collected here. Welcome Emily!
The New York Public Library’s research collection will be moving to an impressive concrete bunker beneath Bryant Park (instead of the much protested option—New Jersey). Our own Michael Bourne writes about how the subway car, once a rolling library, is transitioning to digital.
“I was interested enough in WikiLeaks, state transparency, and emergent opposition networks to do five years in prison over such things, but I wasn’t interested enough that I would have voluntarily plowed through 500 pages of badly plotted failed-marriage razzmatazz by an author who’s long past his expiration date simply in order to learn what the Great King of the Honkies thinks about all this.” Barrett Brown reviews Jonathan Franzen’s Purity from prison. Pair with our own Lydia Kiesling’s review of the book.
Rachel Rosenfelt, Editor in Chief of The New Inquiry, gets interviewed by Evan Kindley, Managing Editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books. In their conversation, Rosenfelt reveals that TNI‘s prevailing editorial principle is: “Is this boring? Is this safe? If the answer is yes, then it’s not for us.”
Looking up a book title on Google? The search results now include listings at your local library, reports The Digital Reader. See also our own Jacob Lambert’s entreaty, “An Open Letter to the Person Who Wiped Boogers on My Library Book.”
The devastating images of Syria shot by Franco Pagetti have been collected into a series entitled Veiled Aleppo. Over at The New Republic, Geoff Dyer writes about one of them. It’s an image, Dyer observes, that features “symbols … of the death throes not of a city but of film.”