“Genius” is a loaded term. Its application usually says more about the person making the judgment than it does about the genius in question. In The Guardian, Sophie Hannah argues that the term isn’t used enough to describe one writer in particular: Agatha Christie. You could also read Daniel Friedman on the terrible secret of all crime fiction.
Jessica Love writes for The American Scholar about some recent psychological studies on the art and perspective of storytelling. Of particular interest is the way “the first person does seem to encourage us to identify with the narrator, especially when that narrator is a lot like us.” Not that identifying with narrators is the primary purpose of reading, as the New Yorker reminds us in a piece against “relatability,” but it’s something to consider the next time you pick up a novel and find a character who seems to be just like you.
“When Michael reads in one of the society columns that are hilariously reprinted here, misspellings and all, that Astrid’s jewels aren’t blingy enough, he flies into a fury of inadequacy. This leads him to try to buy one of Singapore’s rarest architectural masterpieces and turn its ground floor into a museum for his car collection, which includes a car from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; fortunately, his offer is turned down.” On Kevin Kwan’s China Rich Girlfriend.