Out this week: The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich; Madame Zero by Sarah Hall; Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips; Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed; and Careers for Women by Joanna Scott. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Jessica Love writes for The American Scholar about some recent psychological studies on the art and perspective of storytelling. Of particular interest is the way “the first person does seem to encourage us to identify with the narrator, especially when that narrator is a lot like us.” Not that identifying with narrators is the primary purpose of reading, as the New Yorker reminds us in a piece against “relatability,” but it’s something to consider the next time you pick up a novel and find a character who seems to be just like you.
“Sometimes I fear that Midwestern authors are seen from a similar vantage point: that many of us are ‘fly-over writers’ to whom readers wave (or just ignore completely) as they make their way to Saul Bellow and Stuart Dybek and Marilynne Robinson. I fear that these bigger names, along with a few others (Charles Baxter, Lorrie Moore), are seen as exceptions to the general rule that little of cultural worth grows in this flat, middle stretch of the country.” On the plight of the literary Midwesterner.
“‘Oh,’ she said, ‘a lot of dogs don’t like black people but they’re fine with everyone else.’ … Was this just a workplace microaggression, or are these dogs actually racist? I found myself grappling with the idea that not only do actual humans hate me for being black; dogs could also hate me for reasons that are out of my control.” Kelly Mays McDonald on how we have weaponized dogs in The Awl.
“To be awake was a thing many had dreamed of, while continuing to sleep for years, like the famous princess in her coffin of glass. Once I opened a Chinese fortune cookie that said, Some will attain their heart’s desire, alas.” Revisiting this fantastic Anne Carson poem, “The Day Antonioni Came to the Asylum (Rhapsody),” over at The Paris Review. Carson’s newest, Float, is due out in a couple of months.