Indeed, scientists who study the mechanics of curiosity are finding that it is, at its core, a kind of probability algorithm—our brain’s continuous calculation of which path or action is likely to gain us the most knowledge in the least amount of time. Like the links on a Wikipedia page, curiosity builds upon itself, every question leading to the next. And as with a journey down the Wikipedia wormhole, where you start dictates where you might end up. That’s the funny thing about curiosity: It’s less about what you don’t know than about what you already do.
“The imagination of a novelist has everything to do with what happens to his material,” he said. As the speech neared its end, however, it became clear that the two novels Baldwin had already written, and the ones he had yet to write, were part of this hypothetical oeuvre. “Go Tell It on the Mountain” was only his first attempt.
At first, I was taken aback by the lack of incident in Mona Awad’s otherwise absorbing new novel, 13 Ways of Looking At a Fat Girl. The protagonist, a woman named Elizabeth living in southern Ontario, simply grows up, gains weight, loses it, gets married, gets divorced. That’s it.
Few novelists are comfortable with this quiet of a plot. In order to sustain it you either have to have to construct a narrator of unusual reflective capabilities, or one with an undeniably interesting characteristic, something any reader wants to know more about. And Awad opts for the latter. It seems blunt Elizabeth is mostly interesting because she is – as the title says – fat.
With the advent of social media, forgetting can seem like an obsolete danger: Facebook timelines and chat logs have externalized the burden of remembering. But a different and more pernicious kind of forgetfulness looms in Petina Gappah’s first novel, “The Book of Memory,” whose narrator grapples with the threat of erasure.
Before social media, lonely people would just scream into their toilets. But, now, the toilets talk back.
So I’ve been hunched over my phone morning, noon, and, now, my night started by opening a text. Dinner plans had changed. I thought about canceling the plans. Which is one of the few pleasures left in life. But I had spent one too many weekends peering out my laptop screen. It was time to practice being human. The detour led me down a tree-lined street in Brooklyn.
I'm planning a move from a spacious apartment to a compact 500-square-foot space. It's exciting — at least that's what I'm telling myself. The truth is that since my mother passed away in November, after living with me for the last decade, the house feels too empty. I don't need a space big enough to accommodate a family. Small is beautiful, right? And the chance to design a compact "great" room is a welcome excuse to spend too much time on Pinterest and Houzz.com. I spend all my time in the kitchen and living room anyway — so I'm creating a space that's both, and has the benefit of opening to the garden instead of being on the second floor.
But what do I do with the books?