Maybe you really want a mediocre crossword puzzle to pass the time. Or you need a map of your destination airport to find the best route to the Chili’s Too. But for the most part, the in-flight magazine hasn’t typically ranked a lot higher than the barf bag as something you ever want to remove from your seat-back pocket.
Well those were the old days — before Rhapsody.
Actually, those are still the current days if you’re not flying first class on United Airlines. But if you are, you will find what the New York Times calls a “lofty literary journal” that publishes “original works by literary stars like Joyce Carol Oates, Rick Moody, Amy Bloom, Emma Straub and [Anthony] Doerr, who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction two weeks ago.”
This is undoubtedly a cool, if weird, thing. Great writers are getting solid audience exposure and, presumably, actual paychecks from a major company. For United, Rhapsody “brings a patina of sophistication to its first-class service, along with other opulent touches like mood lighting, soft music and a branded scent,” according to the airline’s managing director of marketing and product development.
Also this: “Two of the magazine’s seven staff members hold graduate degrees in creative writing.” So it also means that at least two people with graduate degrees in creative writing have gotten actual jobs.
Read the full story “Rhapsody, a Lofty Literary Journal, Perused at 39,000 Feet”
Today’s Google doodle celebrates the 112th birthday of John Steinbeck. And while it passes over what is arguably his greatest work, East of Eden, it is still pretty wonderful.
Happy birthday John Steinbeck.
And while I’m at it, happy birthday to my sister and fellow East of Eden fan Samantha Moats, who continues to remind me of something Steinbeck wrote: “I guess a loving woman is indestructible.”
– Michael Moats
aka Ryan from The Office. Not as well known as a writer and director on the same show. He wins today for making a book trailer I actually enjoyed watching.
Novak’s collection of stories, One More Thing, comes out on February 4th.
Pre-Regular-order it here.
C’est ce qu’elle a dit.
– Michael Moats
It’s science — the magazine, and the method.
Emanuele Castano and David Comer Kidd from the New School for Social Research published a study in this month’s Science magazine showing the emotional-intuitive benefits of reading literary fiction. According to the New York Times, the study revealed that:
after reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence — skills that come in especially handy when you are trying to read someone’s body language or gauge what they might be thinking.
In other words, science has proven David Foster Wallace’s theory that “Fiction’s about what it is to be a fucking human being.” Continue reading
Climate change? Apparently so.
In “So Hot Right Now: Has Climate Change Created A New Literary Genre?” NPR Books explores the growing genre of “cli-fi”:
Over the past decade, more and more writers have begun to set their novels and short stories in worlds, not unlike our own, where the Earth’s systems are noticeably off-kilter. The genre has come to be called climate fiction — “cli-fi,” for short.
NPR starts the discussion with Nathaniel Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow, which people are talking about because it seems to have predicted the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Unfortunately, Exhibit B for “cli-fi” is Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, which is a bad example because — much as I still love Jurassic Park and even The Lost World — it’s garbage. Continue reading