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Aleksandar Hemon - The Economist

Aleksandar Hemon
The Economist

 

IN LATE 1991 Aleksandar Hemon was at his family’s mountain cabin above Sarajevo, immersed in literature, when the Bosnian Serb nationalist and eventual war criminal Radovan Karadzic appeared on television. When Mr Karadzic prophesied the “annihilation” of Bosnia’s Muslims, Mr Hemon writes in a new book of essays, it surpassed anything his then 27-year-old “humanist imagination” could conceive.

 

Grappling with the coexistence of humanism and genocide has been the Bosnian writer’s business ever since. A literary fellowship took Mr Hemon to Chicago, where he was stranded when the siege of Sarajevo began. He began producing works of fiction that circle relentlessly around the traumas of civil war and exile. “The Lazarus Project” was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2008. This new collection examines, in non-fictional form, the defining rupture of his life.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

Review of "The Book of My Lives" by Aleksandar Hemon

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Behind the scenes of writing

Behind the scenes of writing | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

New Zealand Listener
Behind the scenes of writing

 

Unlike the protagonist of her new novel, 'Life After Life', Kate Atkinson isn’t one to relive the past.

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Writing can be a therapy after a traumatic stress

Writing can be a therapy after a traumatic stress | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Writing can be a therapy after a traumatic stress
Medical Xpress

 

A group of Dutch investigators has summarized the research findings that are concerned with the effects of writing after a traumatic stress. Face-to-face psychological treatments have difficulty meeting today's growing mental health needs. For the highly prevalent posttraumatic stress (PTS) conditions, accumulating evidence suggests that writing therapy may constitute an efficient treatment modality, especially when administered through the Internet.

Read more at: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-04-therapy-traumatic-stress.html#jCpA group of Dutch investigators has summarized the research findings that are concerned with the effects of writing after a traumatic stress. Face-to-face psychological treatments have difficulty meeting today's growing mental health needs. For the highly prevalent posttraumatic stress (PTS) conditions, accumulating evidence suggests that writing therapy may constitute an efficient treatment modality, especially when administered through the Internet.

Read more at: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-04-therapy-traumatic-stress.html#jCpA group of Dutch investigators has summarized the research findings that are concerned with the effects of writing after a traumatic stress. Face-to-face psychological treatments have difficulty meeting today's growing mental health needs. For the highly prevalent posttraumatic stress (PTS) conditions, accumulating evidence suggests that writing therapy may constitute an efficient treatment modality, especially when administered through the Internet.

Read more at: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-04-therapy-traumatic-stress.html#jCp
Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

Dutch scientists summarize research suggesting that writing can help people deal with post-traumatic stress.

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Literary Tour of Ireland with Steve Bertrand

Literary Tour of Ireland with Steve Bertrand | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
... poets and playwrights were born and lived and were inspired to write about the spectacular beauty, culture and history of their native isle; and visit famous galleries, and towns that celebrate Ireland's proud literary history.
Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

Ah, a gal can always dream. . .

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Scholar of "the middlebrow" focuses on women detectives

Scholar of "the middlebrow" focuses on women detectives | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

Laurinburg scholar focuses on women sleuths
Laurinburg Exchange

 

Published in February by Palgrave Macmillan, “Middlebrow Feminism in Classic British Detective Fiction: The Female Gentleman” examines best-selling novels by Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh, Georgette Heyer and others.

 
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Crime pays for these fine American writers

Books: Crime pays for these fine American writers
Waterloo Record

 

I do know that one of the great pleasures for a reader of fiction is to discover a novelist who has created a continuing character whose life and activities are interesting, a writer who regularly produces a new chapter in the character’s life and one who writes well. Five U.S. novelists with continuing characters are among those I have followed for years. Most of their books are still readily available in softcover.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

In praise of Robert Crais, Lawrence Block, Michael Connelly, James Lee Burke, and Joseph Wambaugh.

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“Games of Thrones” and the Fantasy Author's Challenge

“Games of Thrones” and the Fantasy Author's Challenge | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

“Games of Thrones” and the Fantasy Author's Challenge
New York Times (blog)

 

Of course some of this is part of the general disdain for “genre” in all its forms that permeates the respectable literary world. But I also suspect that there is a particular obstacle with fantasy that doesn’t exist with, say, horror novels or murder mysteries: The sheer immensity of the standard-issue fantasy saga, and the fact that committing to a bestselling fantasy author takes much more, well, commitment than reading Dean Koontz or Peter Straub, Michael Connelly or Tana French.

 

Fantasy, by design, is an exercise in world-building, and many of the most famous examples of the genre, from Lord of the Rings and Narnia and the Gormenghast novels and Earthsea down to Martin and Pullman and Rowling and so many others in the present day, are multi-volume affairs that require a serious investment to actually finish. (The multi-volume expectation has an unfortunate tendency to encourage today’s bestselling authors to never … actually … finish their stories, which as Lanchester notes is the great fear gripping Martin’s fans today.) So it would make sense that there would be a higher bar for mass success than in many other genres: Reading a bad murder mystery only sets you back a day or two, and the satisfaction of finding out whodunit can compensate for lousy prose, whereas I’ve definitely found myself flagging at page 300 or so even in many highly-regarded fantasy novels I’ve dipped into. (My apologies, Steven Erikson.) It would make sense that certain readers would be more likely to commit only in cases where the books in question are already mega-sellers, and thus pre-approved by millions of other readers. And it would also make sense that adolescents, who have more time on their hands (especially, ahem, the somewhat awkward ones) and more empty headspace waiting to be filled, would be more likely to gravitate toward the sprawl of mediocre fantasy than adults … which then, in turn, ratifies the perception that the genre is just for teenage Dungeons and Dragons dorks, and not for grown-up readers.

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Fiction for older children – review - The Guardian

Fiction for older children – review - The Guardian | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
The Guardian
Fiction for older children – review

 

Bridging the gender divide in children's literature remains a rare feat. Girls still contend with a shameful amount of inane claptrap; boys are presumed to enjoy shish-kebabbing foul beasts. This batch of books for older children features gendered reads of quality, and some tightrope acts in between. If unifying themes exist they are music, dancing, animals, absent parent, and eating strange substances.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

Since literature can be a strong formative influence on children, it's always good to have some solid recommendations.

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The Silver Linings in Literature's Bad Marriages

The Silver Linings in Literature's Bad Marriages | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
The Silver Linings in Literature's Bad Marriages
Huffington Post

 

Troubled fictional unions can serve as useful cautionary tales of mistakes real-life readers might avoid when looking to get hitched. And even if we don't view literary mismatches as educational tools, unhappy pairings can make for intense, dramatic, memorable reading.

 

Also, while bad marriages can make life miserable for literature's make-believe couples, the experience may help them make better choices the next time. So the cautionary-tale thing can help fictional as well as actual people!

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A New Way for Gay Characters in Y.A.

A New Way for Gay Characters in Y.A. | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Suddenly, it seems like gay characters are everywhere in young-adult literature. How well is Y.A. doing at reflecting the current state of teen culture with regard to LGBT issues, and how far need we still go?
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David Mitchell and Michel van der Aa on Sunken Garden

David Mitchell and Michel van der Aa on Sunken Garden | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
The Guardian
David Mitchell and Michel van der Aa on Sunken Garden

 

Novelist David Mitchell and composer Michel van der Aa have written an 'occult opera' – complete with surreal garden, 3D footage and electronica. They explain why they like a challenge

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

Mitchell is the author of "Cloud Atlas," recently made into a film.

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Why we should stop criminalizing practices that are confused with plagiarism

Why we should stop criminalizing practices that are confused with plagiarism Poynter.org

 

It is time to decriminalize certain practices now described under the rubric of plagiarism.

 

There has been too much loose talk about plagiarism since I first wrote about the topic in 1983. I’ll share some of the blame. The result is that serious acts of literary theft have been mixed up with trivial ones. Carelessness has been mislabeled as corruption. Clear norms of personal morality and professional ethics have been confused with standards and practices.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

I don't agree with everything Roy Peter Clark says in this opinion piece, but he gets my thumbs-up for two points that have always bothered me in discussions of plagiarism: (1) Self-plagiarism is NOT plagiarism unless the author is trying to sell the piece as unpublished data; all scholars adapt their ideas over time. (2) Literary allusions also are NOT plagiarism; they've been around ever since "In the beginning. . ." (and perhaps even before that).

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Psychocinematics: discovering the magic of movies

Psychocinematics: discovering the magic of movies | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
OUPblog (blog)

Psychocinematics: discovering the magic of movies

 

Like the great and powerful Oz, filmmakers conceal themselves behind a screen and offer a mesmerizing experience that engages our sights, thoughts, and emotions. They have developed an assortment of magical “tricks” of acting, staging, sound, camera movement, and editing that create a sort of sleight of mind. These techniques have been discovered largely through trial and error, and thus we have very little understanding of how they actually work on our psyche. Scholars of “film studies” have thought deeply about the nature of movies, yet few scientists have considered empirical analyses of our movie experience—or what I have coined psychocinematics. Yet more than any other artistic expression or form of entertainment, we are captured by movies and involve ourselves with the characters portrayed, almost as if are in the scenes themselves.

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Bro Jackson » 'Mad Men' characters and the novels that define them

Bro Jackson » 'Mad Men' characters and the novels that define them | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

“Mad Men” is one of the more cerebral television shows to hit the airwaves. Not many shows have multiple episodes that include important and timely allusions to classic and modern literature. It’s perfect for nerds who think they are better than everyone else. 1

 

There are several “Mad Men” reading lists online, the most extensive of which was put together by the New York Public Library. I used the list as a reference for my exercise below. I wanted to assign a novel to each of the major characters. In most cases I’ve taken the books they were seen reading in an episode. In other cases I’ve employed a little imagination.

 

You may or may not agree with me. But as Don Draper would say, “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.”

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Primates can `think about thinking` like humans

Primates can `think about thinking` like humans | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

Zee News
Primates can `think about thinking` like humans

 

According to scientists at Georgia State University and the University at Buffalo, "the demonstration of metacognition in nonhuman primates has important implications regarding the emergence of self-reflective mind during humans' cognitive evolution."


 

Metacognition is the ability to recognize one's own cognitive states.

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Beyond the Trauma of War: Iraqi Literature Today

A decade after the U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq, we cannot approach Iraqi literature today without recognizing the multiple shifts and varieties in its expression. In a matter of ten years, the post-Bacthist era has witnessed the sudden fall of a long-lasting dictatorship, an encounter with Western occupation, and an unprecedented upsurge in sectarian discourses, to name only the most prominent events. In addition to these influences, the development of contemporary Iraqi literature is the product of several fluctuations in cultural expression that span the bulk of the twentieth century. The abrupt transitions from the Hashemite monarchy (1932–58) to cAbd al-Karim Qasim’s regime (1958–63), the dictatorship of the Bacth Party (1968–2003), the embargo years (1991–2003), and finally the post-2003 occupation era punctuate the ideological schisms and fractious state-writer relationship. The literary shifts also highlight the emergence of civic society in Iraq, the dynamics within the public sphere, and the ideological makeup of the various state-controlled cultural projects.

 

During this eventful decade Iraqi writers have been attempting to revive the social realism cultivated in the 1960s and 1970s by seminal authors such as Gha’ib Tuclmah Farman, Mahdi cIsa al-Saqr, and Fu’ad al-Takarli. This process followed the long hiatus of the 1980s and 1990s during which Iraqi writers were either silenced, exiled, or enlisted by the state in the production of war glorification literature that is generally deemed stylistically poor and duplicitous in content. We see aspects of the revival of social realism in this issue’s selections of Mahmoud Saeed’s A Portal in Space and Abd al-Khaliq al-Rikabi’s The Arab Altar. More strikingly, however, this past decade has witnessed multiple serious departures from these mimetic norms that characterized the dominant narratological models of the twentieth century, most notably in the minimalist, impressionistic short stories of Luay Hamza Abbas, and Hassan Blasim’s at once peremptory and incredulous accounts of human violence.

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Those Irritating Verbs-as-Nouns - New York Times (blog)

Those Irritating Verbs-as-Nouns - New York Times (blog) | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
New York Times (blog)

Those Irritating Verbs-as-Nouns

 

“Do you have a solve for this problem?” “Let’s all focus on the build.” “That’s the take-away from today’s seminar.” Or, to quote a song that was recently a No. 1 hit in Britain, “Would you let me see beneath your beautiful?”

 

If you find these sentences annoying, you are not alone. Each contains an example of nominalization: a word we are used to encountering as a verb or adjective that has been transmuted into a noun. Many of us dislike reading or hearing clusters of such nouns, and associate them with legalese, bureaucracy, corporate jive, advertising or the more hollow kinds of academic prose. Writing packed with nominalizations is commonly regarded as slovenly, obfuscatory, pretentious or merely ugly.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

Glad someone else is, like me, sick of hearing about "the reveal" and "the disconnect."

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Daring to Disturb the Universe: The Fiction of Robert Cormier

Daring to Disturb the Universe: The Fiction of Robert Cormier | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Daring to Disturb the Universe: The Fiction of Robert Cormier
Everyday ebook

 

Robert Cormier never believed in “writing down” to teens. His novels present flawed, realistic, anti-heroes, characters that struggle with issues of rebellion and nonconformity. He makes the reader root for the rebel characters – and then he takes those characters, makes them social pariahs, beats them bloody, and flushes them down the drain.

 

Initially published in 1974, The Chocolate War is heartbreaking, intense, and still one of the best pieces of Young Adult fiction I have ever read. On this beautiful Easter Sunday, here are the top three reasons why The Chocolate War still kicks ass.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

Robert Cormier is probably best known for "The Chocolate War," but "I am the Cheese" is the most chilling novel I've ever read.

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Top 5 List: Characters from Literature

Top 5 List: Characters from Literature | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

Top 5 List: Characters from Literature

Pianoman's Blog.

 

We're talking about some of the most iconic characters created from words. The best books don't always have the best sentence structures or the most vivid language, but the best characters that we think about and cry for

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

A list like this is, of course, very subjective. But seeing someone else's list can inspire us to create our own. Who makes your list of the top 5 characters from literature?

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Neuroscience in Fiction: “Slaughterhouse 5”, by Kurt Vonnegut

Neuroscience in Fiction: “Slaughterhouse 5”, by Kurt Vonnegut | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Scientific American (blog)
Neuroscience in Fiction: “Slaughterhouse 5”, by Kurt Vonnegut

 

Remember how Billy Pilgrim came unstuck in time? He could revisit his past, time and again, or peek into his future. The horrific firebombing of the beautiful city of Dresden and Pilgrim’s captivity in the planet Tralfamadore were two of many oft visited time destinations.

 

This last week, I had the opportunity to re-read the book as an assignment for my local book club. What struck me about it, and I had failed to appreciate the first time around, was the intricate relationship between the story and the neuroscience of free will.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

Reflections of a neuroscientist

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Grotesque (New Critical Idiom): A Review | The Gothic Imagination

Grotesque (New Critical Idiom): A Review | The Gothic Imagination | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

With preoccupations with the body—body horror, the abject, disability studies, medical themes, etc—prevalent within the contemporary Gothic and Gothic studies as a whole, it is little surprise that one of Routledge’s upcoming New Critical Idiom books is devoted to the grotesque. This volume by Justin Edwards and Rune Graulund highlights the importance and potential of locating the power of bodies (and the literature that features them) in the vehicle of the grotesque and its many manifestations: from the manipulation and transgression of boundaries and rules to a critique of institutions and classifications, from the embrace of uncertainty and contradiction to a reinstatement of new boundaries and (ab)norms.

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Resurrections in literature

Resurrections in literature | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Quiz: Easter celebrates a remarkable return to life. But characters who rise again are not so rare in fiction. How alive to them are you?

 

(The Guardian)

 

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The great ghastly - Sydney Morning Herald

The great ghastly - Sydney Morning Herald | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
The great ghastly

Sydney Morning Herald

 

Therese Anne Fowler here builds on the letters, biographies and work itself of the Fitzgeralds, one of the most infamous literary couples of their age, to show Zelda's conflicted lives: dancer, writer, painter, mother, wife - and how those possible lives were tragically destroyed.

 
Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

I haven't read this novel yet, but the description reminds me of "Blonde," Joyce Carol Oates's novelization of the life of Marilyn Monroe.

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Somaesthetics and Literary Criticism

Somaesthetics and Literary Criticism | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

As literary scholars we are often bending and stretching our frame of reference looking for a new lens with which to examine texts to provide fresh insight and unique views. We beg, borrow and steal ideas from across the academy in order to give ourselves the best available set of tools for our research. In that tradition, this article will examine the burgeoning field of somaesthetics, developed by Richard Shusterman, as a possible way to inform our current views of how the body-mind and literature interact. My primary research consists of an intellectual history of William S. Burroughs and the examination of his writings and artistic experiments as a philosophy. In so doing I plot the course of his interests in the work of Wilhelm Reich, Alfred Korzybski, and W. Grey Walter. 


While each of these authors come from vastly different intellectual backgrounds (psychology for Reich, semantics for Korzybski, and cybernetics and neuroscience for Walter) each has a very compelling view on the role of the body with relation to their discipline. Having been somewhat familiar with Richard Shusterman’s research I decided that somaesthetics could have great value when applied to the work of William S. Burroughs and other writers and thinkers whose work demonstrates an interest in the role of the body.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

Don't let the academic stuffiness put you off. He has interesting ideas on how the body affects literary appreciation.

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Why ebooks are a different genre from print

Why ebooks are a different genre from print | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

The Guardian (blog)
Why ebooks are a different genre from print

 

The differences in format are beginning to change the nature of what we're reading, and how we do it

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