Recommended Reading: Can desire thrive without freedom? On the works of Margaret Atwood and Michel Houellebecq in The Atlantic. Our essay on Atwood’s vision of the future and review of Ben Jeffery’s Anti-Matter: Michel Houellebecq and Depressive Realism pair nicely.
As if you weren’t in love with Augustus Waters already, the first official trailer from The Fault in Our Stars film is out, and Ansel Elgort is quite the charmer. The film releases on June 6th, but if you still haven’t read the book, here’s our own Janet Potter’s review.
“[L]overs of more experimental books showed the ability to see things from different perspectives but it was comedy fans who scored the highest for relating to others.” A new study suggests that people who read books are nicer, reports The Independent. In our recent interview with author John Vaillant he wholly agreed. “Empathy is what gives you the access,” he told us. “I see the writer (fiction or nonfiction) as a kind of permeable membrane through which the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of others can pass and manifest.”
In the latest issue of The New York Review of Books, Jean Strouse brings us inside John Singer Sargent’s inner circle. The exhibition, “Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends,” is on view at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art until October 4th. You could also read Edra Ziesk’s piece on what makes a friend.
“I realized that there was something wrong with an arrangement whereby a relatively affluent person such as I had become could afford to write about minimum wage jobs, squirrels as an urban food source or the penalties for sleeping in parks, while the people who were actually experiencing these sorts of things, or were in danger of experiencing them, could not.” Barbara Ehrenreich on writing about poverty.
The L.A. Times Book Prize finalists for 2013 have been announced. The five finalists in fiction are: Percival Everett’s Percival Everett by Virgil Russell, Claire Messud’s The Woman Upstairs (also see her Year in Reading post), Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, Susan Steinberg’s Spectacle, and Daniel Woodrell’s The Maid’s Version. The winner will be announced on April 11.