Lord of the Flies is perhaps the best example of a book that forces readers to confront how wild we are. But there’s a whole corpus of books that accomplish the same thing. In The New Statesman, Erica Wagner writes about Melissa Harrison’s At Hawthorn Time and Sarah Hall’s The Wolf Border.
“But was I actually reading? I regarded myself as a reader, but were these really books?” In LitHub, James Tate Hill pens an essay about reading while visually impaired and the questions it raises in a print book obsessed world. Pair with: our own Bill Morris on hearing an actor narrate his novel’s audiobook.
For most people, Mario Puzo’s The Godfather is the beginning and end of mafia books, the sole notable entry in a sparse and little-known genre. That’s why it’s helpful that Roberto Dainotto, in The Guardian, published this list, which includes The Godfather, Eric Hobsbawm’s Primitive Rebels, and Alexander Stille’s Excellent Cadavers, among other picks.
“One is less likely to overlook or be unfairly harsh to a translator if one has been a translator, and one is less likely to fault an original writer for weaknesses in translated prose or poetry if one has a sense of the pitfalls into which a translator can stumble—a sense I am still developing after years of translating poetry and prose.” Over at Asymptote Journal, Sue Burke and Maia Evrona look at reviews of books in translation.
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.