At The New York Times, Parul Sehgal examines time through the writing being produced during the pandemic, as well as the books she reads (and re-reads). “To describe the passage of time has always been one of the favorite challenges of the writer or philosopher,” Sehgal writes. “‘Where is it, this present?’ William James wondered. ‘It has melted in our grasp, fled ere we could touch it, gone in the instant of becoming.’ In Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor, the heroine declares: ‘We can never know Time. Our senses are simply not meant to perceive it.’ The mysteries of time are bound up in the great unknowns of the body and universe, from consciousness to black holes.”
“Historians, I believe, are dedicated to fighting against the tide of our social amnesia. The reason they continue to write books about the Holocaust, or Appomatox, or the earthquake in Haiti, is to try to help us remember the suffering and the extent of the damage. Some try to humanize, and others turn to abstraction.” Stewart L. Sinclair writes on burying the remnants of disaster, over at Guernica. Pair with his Millions essay on technology and Apple’s operating systems.
NPR’s Maureen Corrigan applauds Barbara Kingsolver‘s Lacuna for “single-handedly keeping consumer zest alive for the literary novel,” as “the only literary novel caught in the cross hairs” of the price wars waged by Wal-mart, Amazon, and Target against booksellers (the others being genre novels). As for the book itself: “I wish I could say she also deserves kudos for writing a spectacular work of fiction…”
Andrew Hazlett discovers that following the keyword “humanities” on Twitter is not the best way to keep tabs on the discipline.
“To Yanagihara, the commitment to journalism is a vital expression of the practical side of her nature: she likes the adrenaline of short deadlines and the satisfaction of making a new product each week.” The Guardian profiles Hanya Yanagihara about her life, fiction, and day job as the editor of T magazine, the New York Times style supplement. From our archives: The Millions’ interview with the acclaimed novelist.