Last Week's Links

Literary Links

The Dreariness of Book Club Discussions

Novelist and critic Naomi Kanakia, who belongs to two book clubs, uses the context of her book group discussions to examine why we read fiction. The point of novels, she writes, “is that something happened. Something was at stake in this story. Characters made decisions. Those decisions had consequences. And it’s in that specificity . . . that the real value of the story lies.”

She concludes, “I think we read books to become better people, and we can’t become better people unless we admit that we are flawed and human and insensitive and that we vitally need the perspective that this book is capable of providing.”

Categories: Book Groups, Fiction, Literary Criticism, Story, Reading

Your Wordle Results Are Annoying, but Not for the Reasons You Think

Three rows of colored squares on black background. Top row: white square, 2 green squares, gold square, white square. Middle row: 4 white squares, green square. Bottom row: 5 green squares

Anna E. Cook explains how inaccessible Wordle scores are “for someone who uses a screen reader, braille keyboard, or other assistive technology.” She explains how to post Wordle scores so that they become more accessible.

Category: Reading

How Much Control Do Humans Have Over Their Lives, Really?

In this excerpt from the book Freely Determined: What the New Psychology of the Self Teaches Us about How to Live, Kennon M. Sheldon argues that intrinsic motivation is a more significant factor than the stimulus-response model of human behavior.

Category: Life Stories in Literature, Literature & Psychology

What Do Women (Publishers) Want?

“Almost all of the women-owned publishing companies exist because their founders wanted to do things that large, corporate, white-male-dominated companies weren’t interested in trying,” writes Bethanne Patrick for Publishers Weekly.

Categories: Publishing, Writing

Hitting the Road: How to Find the Courage to Try New Writing Paths

“Award-winning author Marina Budhos shares how she had to have the courage to try a new writing path to get to the story she wanted to tell, instead of pushing for the story she originally thought she wanted to tell.”

Category: Writing

There is an unseen smuggling operation between fiction and reality

From early childhood, we are taught that imaginings—“that witches fly on broomsticks and that dragons spit fire”—are fantasies that “must not spill over and contaminate our beliefs concerning reality.” This article, however, proposes a different perspective:

we believe there’s a need for a better metaphorical framework – one that acknowledges the potentially manipulative power of fiction. We suggest that fiction and reality interact through some sort of trade exchange with all its dark sides and complexities. Some transactions occur in the light of day, while others happen under the table – we unconsciously import beliefs, desires and biases into fiction, and we unconsciously export ideas, worldviews and perspectives from fiction back into the real world.

Categories: Fiction, Literature & Psychology, Reading, Writing

Agatha Christie Suspected Everyone

“In the quaint, well-to-do worlds of her novels, anyone could be guilty. Murderers kill to beat the social order at its own game.”

Scott Bradfield discusses the new biography of Agatha Christie, Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman, by Lucy Worsley. Bradfield writes, “She [Christie] found escape through writing stories as much as her readers did through reading them—and she tended to produce her best work when her world was most worth escaping.”

Bradfield supplements Worsley’s biography with other sources about Christie and her works to explain why readers have long loved Christie’s mysteries despite their repetitive plots and characters, and the unimaginative worlds they present. 

Categories: Author News, Literary Criticism, Literary History

11 Personality Masks We Wear

This psychology article provides background for the Life Stories in Literature approach to understanding literature.

Categories: Life Stories in Literature, Literature & Psychology

How to Go Home: On Resisting a Very English Hero’s Journey

thanks to old Joseph Campbell, we all know the arc of the hero’s journey, that road in three parts: departure, initiation, return. A year ago, I thought I’d completed the circuit; with my feet back on home turf, I thought I’d have something to say about its last leg, the return. Ha.

Ellie Robins discusses her return home, to England, after 11 years of living abroad: “What I should have known then and have since learned the hard way (the only way I seem to learn anything) is that the return is the most challenging part of the journey, and also the most important. . . . It’s about bringing everything you’ve learned in the world back over the threshold, and using it to live differently.”

Categories: Life Stories in Literature, Literary Criticism, Literary History, Story

On the Morality of Immorality

From writer Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, whose latest thriller is Friends Like These:

thrillers fling straight and piercing arrows into the heart of morality itself. How? By displaying catastrophic consequences for “bad” behavior. This is what I call the morality of immorality. Bad behavior shapes the heart of many popular thrillers. A character makes a crucial mistake or commits a crime and the result is a shocking, over-the-top, often violent or deadly outcome. It’s the “scare ‘em straight” teaching method.

Categories: Literature & Culture, Literature & Psychology, Reading, Writing

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

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