At the Guardian, biographer Fiona Sampson, author of Two Way Mirror, reflects on the life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, whose forced isolation due to respiratory illness led her to find an escape through writing — a respite we can find relatable during this pandemic. “She escaped via paper rather than a screen, of course; but her grasp of self-invention through a kind of ‘second life’ reminded me of all the friendships we were suddenly reconfiguring on Zoom,” Sampson writes. “I also realised how closely her practice prefigured today’s digital communicators: not just the teenagers and geeks, bloggers and TikTok stars, but citizen journalists, activists and those policed by authoritarian regimes too.”
Bill Clinton, at 65, has become the Blurber-in-Chief, an activist health convert who has enthusiastically endorsed three diet books: Eddie Shapes Up by Ed Koch, Think and Grow Thin by weight-loss coach Charles D’Angelo, and The Blood Sugar Solution: The UltraHealthy Program for Losing Weight, Preventing Disease, and Feeling Great Now, a new book by Dr. Mark Hyman. No more “Fat Elvis” jokes for Bill.
At N+1, Marco Roth autopsies “the neuronovel” – think Motherless Brooklyn (Tourette’s), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (autism), Lowboy (paranoid schizophrenia), The Echo Maker (Capgras syndrome), and Atmospheric Disturbances (Capgras again?) – and finds “sign[s] of the novel’s diminishing purview.”
Twitter lets writers think in public, and it’s changing the way we write, Thomas Beller argues in The New Yorker. “Does articulating a thought in public freeze it in place somehow, making it not part of a thought process but rather a tiny little finished sculpture? Is tweeting the same as publishing?”
I’ve written before about the excellently titled series Novelists in Restaurants Eating Food. It lets some of our foremost literary minds reflect on places like Fallon and Byrne and Buffalo Wild Wings. Now, Millions contributor Laura van den Berg writes about Cafe Azteca in Lawrence, MA, where they make shrimp fajitas that inspire mouth-watering daydreams. Sample quote: “Love of food can be love’s most sincere form—especially when avocados are involved.”