For The New Yorker Alex Ross describes the role Nebraska’s prairies played in Willa Cather’s writing, his encounters with Cather people, and how he became one himself. “From this roughshod Europe of the mind, Cather also emerged with a complex understanding of American identity. Her symphonic landscapes are inflected with myriad accents, cultures, personal narratives—all stored away in a prodigious memory. “
Out this week: The Last Kid Left by Rosecrans Baldwin; The Answers by Catherine Lacey; Dear Cyborgs by Eugene Lim; Perennials by Mandy Berman; Everybody’s Son by Thrity Umrigar; and The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
In Salon, Laura Miller discusses two new studies showing a correlation between the number of books in a child’s household and the level of education that child’s likely to attain: “Children with as few as 25 books in the family household completed on average two more years of schooling than children raised in homes without any books.”
Everybody lies, or so the saying goes. But how long have we known this was true? At Slate, Katy Waldman reviews a new history of lying, delving into the knotty philosophy behind efforts to excuse deceit. You could also read our own Edan Lepucki and Janet Potter on deceit as it pertains to Gone Girl.
“Does handwriting matter?” That’s the question some researchers are working to answer and that Maria Konnikova tackles in a piece for The New York Times. The article ends by suggesting that “with handwriting, the very act of putting it down forces you to focus on what’s important… maybe it helps you think better,” which is doubtlessly encouraging to every writer who works on their drafts in longhand.
How do you write an accurate memoir without perpetuating stereotypes? Jesmyn Ward struggled with this when writing about absent black fathers and husbands in her book Men We Reaped. “I also had to figure out how much of the truth do I tell, how do I make the truth as balanced as I possibly can? How do I make these people as complicated and as human and as unique and as multifaceted as I possibly can? For me, that was the way I attempted to counteract some of that criticism,” she told The Rumpus.