Ever since the advent of modern neuroscience, the language of the brain scientist has entered our common vocabulary. Words and phrases like “synapse,” “chemical imbalance” and “hardwired” point to its relevance in contemporary culture. At Page-Turner, a look at how cognitive language and our notion of attention affects the way we think about fiction and music, with particular reference to On Beauty by Zadie Smith and Orfeo by Richard Powers.
Recommended reading: one essay on George Orwell‘s stomping grounds on the Scottish island where he wrote 1984 in the throes of a tubercular fever, and another on the tiny Indian town of Motihari where he was born.
Out this week: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi; Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam; They May Not Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine; Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley; and End of Watch by Stephen King. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
“When it comes to the personal essay, we want so much and there is something cannibalistic about our desire. We want essayists to splay themselves bare. We want to see how much they are willing to bleed for us. This desire introduces an interesting tension for essay writers. How much should they bleed, and how much blood should they save for themselves?” Roxane Gay reviews Meghan Daum‘s The Unspeakable and reflects on the personal essay for The New York Times Book Review. Pair with our own Hannah Gersen‘s Millions review of the same book.