Nabokov played (and frequently wrote about) chess; J.K. Rowling plays Minecraft, though it has yet to appear in any kind of Harry Potter spin-off. And why shouldn’t she? After all, “there’s a long tradition of other authors turning to a variety of such games – mostly as light relief from their vocation, but also sometimes finding writerly inspiration.”
In a New York Times op-ed piece on violence in children’s literature, Maria Tatar claims that “the savagery we offer children today is more unforgiving than it once was.” Is that really the case? Adam Gidwitz‘s A Tale Dark And Grimm (reviewed by the Times last November), which underscores the violence inherent in Grimm’s tales, can be read as a counterpoint.
Michael Lewis’s last book made our Hall of Fame. Now he’s back with a new book that widens his focus to the financial dramas around the world with Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World. Also out this week, Jose Saramago’s posthumously published Cain, Helen DeWitt’s long-awaited Lightning Rods, Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table (reviewed here), Anne Enright’s The Forgotten Waltz, Alice Hoffman’s The Dovekeepers, Jim Harrison’s The Great Leader, and Booker shortlisted The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. Also out: From the master of “molecular gastronomy,” The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria and, as noted in our recent piece “What Ever Happened to the New Atheism?” The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins.
In the 1880s, a group of rural Illinoisans formed a Christian sect that believed that a local woman, Dorinda Beekman, was the new Jesus Christ. When Mrs. Beekman died, a follower of hers claimed that her spirit lived inside him; as the new leader of the sect, he moved his followers into a barn and named it Heaven. At The Paris Review Daily, Dan Visel looks back on this odd chapter of history, as well as the novel it inspired. (Related: Eric Shonkwiler on the literature of the Midwest.)
It’s a common trope in writing courses that young artists need a dose of childlike creativity. Self-help books for people with writer’s block are filled with callbacks to childhood interests. But is it possible, as Tasha Golden argues at the Ploughshares blog, that idealizing children isn’t the answer to our problems?
Brooklyn Poets wants to build The Bridge, a social networking site aimed at connecting student poets with mentor poets. The idea is that students could find mentors for less money than a workshop or writing program might cost, and that mentors would be able to get paid without having to locate a hard-to-find teaching job. You can get a fuller idea of the plan on the organization’s IndieGoGo page.