The Atlantic reviews the first full-length biography of Joan Didion, The Last Love Song by Tracy Daugherty, to be released August 25th. The biography “looks at the author’s legacy of cool.” Related: Franklin Strong’s essay on “The Manliness of Joan Didion” in The Millions.
In 1913, Ambrose Bierce, at the age of seventy-one, rode a horse from California to Mexico, where he planned to cover the ongoing Revolutionary War. At some point, he disappeared and died, though accounts vary as to what exactly killed him. At The Paris Review Daily, Forrest Gander recounts the many deaths of the Devil’s Dictionary author, which include a public burning, death by disease and executions at the hands of Mexican soldiers.
Out this week: The Burning Girl by Claire Messud; The Hidden Light of Northern Fires by Daren Wang; My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent; To Die in Spring by Ralf Rothmann; and All the Dirty Parts by Daniel Handler. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
“Stories are born unconsciously, but I think the writer determines whether the turn a book has taken is true or false through feeling, which is conscious. I shape my stories in this or that way because the story answers something that is emotionally rather than literally true for me.” At Full-Stop, Siri Hustvedt talks fiction with Tyler Malone.
Why do we strain ourselves to apply scientific methods to the humanities, when the results of such studies always miss the point, asks Maria Konnikova. For those looking to do some field research on the fruits of the growing digital humanities movement before condemning them, the latest issue of the Journal of Digital Humanities is packed with interesting (and chart-filled) reads.