“It’s a critical dilemma in my reading and writing but also a real-life dilemma in a family like mine, with Alzheimer’s in our genes: How do you locate the personhood in someone who is, for neurobiological reasons, no longer the person you knew? Is there a way to be true to medical fact and still find something that is transcendently human?” Stefan Merrill Block writes about the literature of Alzheimer’s and Matthew Thomas‘s We Are Not Ourselves, which Lisa Peet reviewed for The Millions.
Writing for NPR’s Book News round-up, Annalisa Quinn steers readers toward a recently released FBI file alleging that Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes was in fact a “communist writer” with a “long history of subversive connections.” In her update, Quinn shares some counter-arguments from Fuentes’s colleague and biographer, Julio Ortega.
New this week: Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood; The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters; My Life as a Foreign Country by Brian Turner; Wallflowers by Eliza Robertson; On Bittersweet Place by Ronna Wineberg; Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce; In the Red by Elena Mauli Shapiro; and Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
We like big books and we cannot lie. But are books just continuing to get longer and longer? A new survey of bestsellers has concluded that the average book is now 25% bigger than its counterpart fifteen years ago. The Guardian investigates. Mark O’Connell at The Millions has his own theory about long books.
Curious to know what the new Most Irritating Word is? Not many people agree on the number one offender, but for a while a top choice was “literally,” which evolved so much over the past few decades that the Oxford English Dictionary revised its official definition. At Slate, Katy Waldman proposed that we give the title to “amazeballs.” Now, in The New Republic, Judith Shulevitz makes the case for “disruptive,” the scourge of the tech world.
"It may be vanity on my part ... but I have a fairly high opinion of the two pieces that I sent in." A 68-year-old aspiring writer has accused the Iowa Writers' Workshop of age discrimination, reports The Los Angeles Times. In his complaint, Dan Thomson cites "statistics from the program that reveal that, in the last five years, just over 100 would-be graduate students over the age of 50 applied to the program, but none made the cut." Doesn't he know you don't need an MFA, anyway?