Nowadays, Lord of the Flies is a byword for savagery, a book that illustrates more potently than any other just how low it’s possible for humanity to sink. In The Guardian, Robert McCrum ties the book’s conception to the second World War, arguing that its view of the world was “unimaginable” without Nazi Europe.
Some say 2012 was “the year of the e-single,” and Laura Hazard Owen is here to explain why. While on the topic, you might want to check out Epic Fail, which was our debut into the world of e-singles. Author Mark O’Connell recently sat down with Hazlitt to discuss the book – as well as Guy Fieri.
Scientists confirmed recently that writers are more likely to struggle with mental illness (sometimes, as recently noted, due to syphilis). Since we’re so used to our alcoholic literary greats, and a smattering of suicidal ones (Plath, Woolf, Thompson, Wallace–and many more), this comes as no great surprise. On a happier note, a new study using fMRIs and MFA students has found that writers show different brain patterns than “normal people” just writing: in fact they resemble “expert” thinking patterns of all professionals doing what they’re best at–musicians, athletes, competitive Scrabble players. I don’t know if I’m happier to learn the fMRIs found no gaping black holes, or that MFAs do in fact teach you something.
Our own Garth Risk Hallberg’s City on Fire is almost here. While we wait, read Boris Kachka’s profile of Hallberg for Vulture, about the expectation surrounding his highly anticipated 944-page debut novel and the experience of writing a book that is “unpublishably long.” We’ll be publishing our own illuminating interview with Hallberg on Monday.
Lots of publications — The Millions included — have tackled the differences between reading e-books and physical books. It’s hard to know just what these differences mean for the future of literature. In the Chicago Tribune, John Warner proposes a novel argument (registration required) for why physical books will live on.
“The worst insult people hurl at adoptees is that they are ‘ungrateful’ and should ‘go back’ (to their ‘own’ countries, to their old families). That is the moment when adoption becomes a gift—because that is the moment when it becomes clear that adoption belongs to people like the adoptive parent and not people like the adoptee. We shouldn’t want our birth families, our birth cultures. We should be thankful for being taken from the mothers who bore us. This idea of gratitude can ruin thankfulness. Why should we be grateful?” Matthew Salesses writes about gratitude and luck as an adoptee, over at The Toast. You could also check out Salesses’s Millions essay on novel writing, inciting incidents, adoption, and beginnings.