our brains on great literature, with the emphasis on great

Monday, March 19, 2012

Truth be told, I'm still struggling in these parts, and hence the sluggishness of my blog presence.  I do hope to regain my perky self (Was I ever perky? Is it even appropriate at my age to be perky?).  But between now and then, I would like to share two news items (both from the New York Times) that friends have sent my way.  My taste, my interests must be verging on the transparent.

Story number one:  Draft.  This is the new Times Opinionator feature that promises "essays by grammarians, historians, linguists, journalists, novelists and others on the art of writing—from the comma to the tweet to the novel—and why a well-crafted sentence matters more than ever in the digital age."  Jhumpa Lahiri's gorgeous piece "My Life's Sentences" recalled, for the ever-lovely Melissa Sarno, a piece I had written here, about my obsession with the construct.  (Thank you, Melissa, for making me famous today.)

Story number two:  Your Brain on Fiction.  This Annie Murphy Paul essay on reading and the effects it has on our brains reinforces what those of us who have defended lies and lie telling (well, we have defended novels) have been saying all along:  "Reading great literature...enlarges and improves us as human beings."

I personally think the "great" matters in that Annie Murphy Paul essay.  Which takes me straight back to my obsession with crafting fine sentences.  Not easy sentences.  Not obvious ones.  Not the ones you've seen plenty of times before.  But the ones that make us think.

Thank you, Melissa, Mandy, Paul, and Bonnie for making sure I see the good stuff.  Thank you, Melissa, for pairing me with Jhumpa herself.


Amy said...

That picture is amazing.

Serena said...

Thanks so much for sharing...I'm going to check out the NYTimes article.

I love the photo as well.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

It isn't that you are transparent as much as knowing your "obsession with crafting fine sentences" that made me think of you when I read the NYT article.

Melissa Sarno said...

I associate you with Jhumpa Lahiri for many reasons. Mostly because you both craft beautiful sentences and know how to move plot forward. In my opinion, that combination is a rare and wonderful thing.

Mandy King said...

I, too, loved Melissa's comparison of you and Jhumpa. Both of you write books that are meant to be savoured. :)

Lilian Nattel said...

I love that brain on fiction piece and meant to blog about it but have been too busy this week preparing talks to properly do it. I'm so glad you brought it up.

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