Recommended Reading: Year in Reading alumna Elissa Schappell interviews Elena Ferrante about feminism, friendship, and her latest Neapolitan novel. Pair with Cora Currier’s essay on reading Italy through Ferrante’s books.
At The Morning News, Ben Shattuck explores the similarities between paintings and fiction writing. He explains that pictures convey emotion the way stories convey plot, through composition. Pair with this Millions essay on learning about a book from paintings.
Gordon Lish is famous for being Raymond Carver’s very involved editor, but his work has never been thoroughly considered before. David Winters, Greg Gerke, and Jason Lucarelli have set out to change that with a roundtable discussion of Lish’s legacy. “What can we learn from Lish? Well, we can take away a set of techniques, to be sure; ‘rules,’ if rules are useful to us. But we can also salvage something that looks almost lost in our time: a sense of the real, lived stakes of writing, its risks and its rewards.”
In his inaugural column for The New York Times Magazine, former New York Magazine critic Sam Anderson expands upon the idea he shared with us in his “Year in Marginalia,” his riff on our big Year in Reading series. And, as a sidebar to Anderson’s column, the Magazine has published a brief excerpt of John Brandon’s compelling essay from The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books (perhaps you’ve heard that title mentioned around here lately?)
Working with composer Michel van der Aa, David Mitchell has written an “occult opera” entitled “Sunken Garden.” Meanwhile, the former head of buying at Waterstone’s has shared the Cloud Atlas author’s list of his favorite Japanese books. (h/t Sarah Emily Duff)
In the Prospect, an essay on anesthesia, 3D printing, teleportation, LSD, and other thought experiments on self-awareness. Also, this line: “If the spectrum of selfhood begins with the roundworm, surely it ends with Proust.”
Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell and his wife KA Yoshida (who have an autistic son of their own) translated the latest work from Naoki Higashida, who uses an alphabet grid to communicate. The resulting memoir from the thirteen year old boy, The Reason I Jump, is scheduled for an August release. Hari Kunzru has a sneak preview of the book’s cover.
As you probably read last week, Elon Musk (founder and CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX) is sure that we’re living in a computer-generated simulation. Over at The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman takes a hard look and tries to determine the actual odds of humans inhabiting a simulated world.