Need your monthly dose of Hilary Mantel? The two-time Booker Prize winner has a new story in the London Review of Books (which you can read at their website). The story is a nice complement to our interview with the author from last year.
In the Atlantic‘s annual fiction supplement, Joyce Carol Oates writes about the loss of her husband of 48 years and the split identity of the well-known writer: “My job at the university is to impersonate ‘Joyce Carol Oates’ […] this quasi-public self […] is scarcely visible to me, as a mirror-reflection, seen up close, is scarcely visible to the viewer.”
At 3 Quarks Daily, Akeel Bilgrami’s essay on the pleasures of literature: “To understand what is special about literature is not to delegate the emotions to literature while retaining thought for philosophy and science. The idea is to find in the distinctly expressive function of literature, a refusal of that tired dualism.” (via Book Bench)
A startling conclusion from this data visualization of where in words each letter of the alphabet tends to fall: “the most common word may be ‘the, but the most representative word is ‘toe.’ ” (Also available: detailed methodology and algorithms for the data geeks; an explanation of data-viz as a narrative form for everyone else.)
New this week: Bright, Precious Days by Jay McInerney; Carousel Court by Joe McGinniss, Jr.; How I Became a North Korean by Krys Lee; Moonstone by Sjón; and Still Here by Lara Vapnyar. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview.
What inspired Samuel Clemens to change his name to Mark Twain? Was it a Mississippi riverboat captain? Did he earn it by “drinking at a one-bit saloon in Virginia City, Nevada?” Or, as rare book dealer Kevin Mac Donnell now alleges in the new issue of Mark Twain Journal, did the author find his pseudonym in a popular humor journal?
Lorrie Moore once said in an interview that what’s good for writing is bad for life. In this vein, we might assume that coffee, which is bad for your health but good for your writing, neatly supports her conjecture. But what if it turns out that coffee is a detriment to creativity? Maria Konnikova investigates research that suggests this might be the case.