“The way Vermeer painted this wall is consistent with a photograph. It is not consistent with human vision.” In a fascinating new documentary by Penn and Teller, a digital-graphics artist spent five years building a lens, a room, and a harpsichord to figure out how.
“The past fascinates me obsessively, I suppose, because it’s such a strange phenomenon. The past was the present at some point, and it was just as boring as the present. What makes it so important? What gives it that luminous, exalted quality where it becomes the past?” John Banville addresses these and many other heady questions in his new novel, The Blue Guitar.
“Writing difference is a challenge, particularly in fiction. How do men write women and vice versa? How do writers of one race or ethnicity write about people of another race or ethnicity? More important, how do writers tackle difference without reducing their characters to caricatures or stereotypes?” Roxane Gay reviews Joyce Carol Oates‘s The Sacrifice and simultaneously explains how to write difference well. Hint: it “demands empathy, an ability to respect the humanity of those you mean to represent.”
“Andre Dubus’s literary superpower is to hit upon that one thing about a character that makes him him, or her her. And in so doing, with subtle, clever details—breadcrumbs on the trail to the nucleus of a character—he makes a reader want to keep going, because she knows exactly who these people are and has to know what happens to them.” On the Selected Stories of Andre Dubus.
As you might have heard, the tenth annual Morning News Tournament of Books will commence this Thursday, and to kick things off, the site held a pre-Tournament playoff round. In it, Lev Grossman and David Gutowski (aka Largehearted Boy) try to predict what Geraldine Brooks will choose as her novel of the year. (Our own Lydia Kiesling takes part on the 18th.)