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.
I’ve loved old sci-fi B-movies forever, and a staggering number of my childhood memories involve Ray Harryhausen. For this reason, I’m really geeking out over The New Yorker’s entire science fiction issue, but in particular this piece by Colson Whitehead deserves your time.
Garth recently posited that Dave Eggers would be a great, if counter-intuitive, replacement for Philip Gourevitch at the Paris Review. Instead, the Paris Review has announced today the equally admirable appointment of FSG editor Lorin Stein to head up the venerable literary magazine. The announcement.
Geoff Dyer is fond of taking potshots at literary academics. He devotes considerable time in one of his novels to a professor whose speech at a conference goes off the rails. Which is why it’s odd that, in mid-July, the author showed up at a conference devoted to — what else? — his own work. (It’s apropos to point out here that our own Mark O’Connell wrote a great essay for Slate about Dyer.)
Planning on writing a prison scene? Worried your characters might sound a bit unrealistic? Then see if you can get your hands on the Bonne Terre dictionary. Written by inmates at a prison in Louisiana, the dictionary includes such idiosyncratic terms as “boat,” meaning a plastic bed, and “pumpkin,” meaning a new inmate.
Growing up, I was always taught that chickens lay eggs and people lie down. Since then, I’ve always been irritated by that verb’s misuse. But maybe it’s time to settle down and relax. Maybe, as Kathryn D. Blanchard argues, it’s time to stop “clinging to values that no longer serve their purposes.”