“Literature can use secrecy as a device to ensnare readers, to pull the wool over their eyes or to reveal to them things that the characters can’t see. Whether large – businessman by day, serial killer by night; or small – where a character silently yearns for an ex-lover.” Eli Goldstone compiles a list for The Guardian of 10 novels whose characters are concealing big secrets, including a few lesser-knowns like Shirley Jackson‘s We Have Always Lived in the Castle and New Finnish Grammar by Diego Marani.
“They found, unsurprisingly, that blocked writers were unhappy. Symptoms of depression and anxiety, including increased self-criticism and reduced excitement and pride at work, were elevated in the blocked group; symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, such as repetition, self-doubt, procrastination, and perfectionism, also appeared, as did feelings of helplessness and ‘aversion to solitude’—a major problem, since writing usually requires time alone.” On the causes of writer’s block.
Last week, I pointed readers to a recording of Benedict Cumberbatch on BBC Radio, reading Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Over at Slate, Rebecca Schuman explains why Cumberbatch is the story’s ideal reader, unpacking his “withering, perfectly enunciated deadpan.”
Ever seen Henry Kissinger make eyes at a geisha? Richard Nixon ham it up at the Grand Ole Opry? Or Betty Ford (a one-time Martha Graham dancer) take a turn on the Cabinet Room table? Legendary photographer David Hume Kennerly has. His retrospective at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica just came down, but many of the best images are still up at the Frank Pictures Gallery website. Kennerly also took the somewhat notorious picture of O.J. Simpson and family with President Ford (the one O.J. was arrested for trying to steal), and for which his retrospective–“If Only O.J. Had Called Me”–was named.
New this week is David Bezmozgis’s The Free World, the new Geoff Dyer collection of criticism Otherwise Known as the Human Condition (reviewed here today), “Professor X’s” higher ed expose In the Basement of the Ivory Tower, Funeral for a Dog, a German novel in translation by young author Thomas Pletzinger, which John Wray has blurbed as “ballsy,” and Chinaberry, a posthumously published novel by the Appalachian author James Still.