Penelope Gazin and Kate Dwyer are the founders of online art marketplace Witchsy. They are not, to our knowledge, novelists or literary critics. They are the creators of a platform for people to sell arts and crafts that, as Fast Company reports, “eschews the ‘Live Laugh Love’ vibe of knickknacks commonly found on sites like Etsy in favor of art that is at once darkly nihilistic and lightheartedly funny, ranging in spirit from fiercely feminist to obscene just for the fun of it.”
As they worked to build their company, Gazin and Dwyer noticed that the hired help — mostly men brought on for design and development — were “slow to respond, and vaguely disrespectful in correspondence.” So they created Keith Mann, “an aptly named fictional character who could communicate with outsiders over email.”
You can read the full story of how that changed things over at Fast Company.
David Foster Wallace used to say that the point of fiction was to show what it’s like “to be a fucking human being.” Sometimes, apparently, the point of fiction is just to be treated like a fucking human being.
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
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