Cortext-ual Contention

Fascinating post last week on Jonah Lehrer's blog, The Frontal Cortex, inspired by Marco Roth's n+1 essay, "The Rise of the Neuronovel." Lehrer takes issue with Roth's thesis that "neurological" novelists -- e. g., the Ian McEwan of Saturday and the Richard Powers of The Echo Maker -- have ceded their ground (and their idea of character) to science.


Roth's essay is smart, and so is Lehrer's counterargument, which invokes the brains of Emile Zola, George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein, and so is Roth's elaboration of his ideas in the comments to Lehrer's post. All in all, very good reading.



April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.