More miscellany

Still recovering from my busy week, and now from spring forward, too. Mostly I spent the latter half of the week reading — I finally finished The Ambassadors, then read Jessica Stern’s Denial: A Memoir of Terror, then Cynthia Ozick’s Foreign Bodies. (I put up short reviews on my Goodreads page if you’re curious.) I’ve…

This week’s capers

I’m bogged down in dissertation-land this month, trying to finish a chapter before I start teaching in mid-July. Things I have been doing lately, in addition to writing my dissertation: Pondering the confluence of events that leads pets to get sick immediately before one’s partner leaves on a scheduled trip. Washing a lot of bedding.…

Terror & denial

One of the most fascinating first-person narratives I’ve read recently: Jessica Stern’s WaPo op-ed about how trauma shaped her professional career and her personality. Stern asks: “Why does the threat of violent death alter some of us, even if subtly, forever? Why does it make us unusually numb or calm when we ought to feel…

Historical fiction and truth

Kate Pullinger, whose The Mistress of Nothing will soon be released in the US, wrote a great post last week about historians who dismiss historical fiction (in this case, Antony Beevor and Niall Ferguson): According to reports, Niall Ferguson says he never reads historical fiction because it ‘contaminates historical understanding’; Beevor says he thinks that…

Music that hasn’t yet happened

In this interview with the Guardian, Brian Eno explains the process of creating and naming “ambient” music. It reminds me a great deal of what many writers say about why they write: My interest in making music has been to create something that does not exist that I would like to listen to, not because…

‘Alcestis’ news roundup and links

First of all: I’ve added a link to the online invitation to my book launch party on the Events page. If you’re reading this, consider yourself invited — it’ll be held at BookPeople in downtown Austin, February 7, 3 pm. In other Alcestis news, my ARC giveaway via Goodreads ended yesterday — 1289 people requested…

A monument

In Cold Blood is one of my favorite books, but I tend to forget that — as much as I love nonfiction, I always think of fiction first when somebody asks me about my favorites. Little Truman’s slender book gets crushed beneath Middlemarch and Pride and Prejudice. I reread In Cold Blood this summer for…