Book News Roundup: David Sedaris, Lesley Hazleton, Tatiana Gill, and more

  • I'm already getting excited to introduce David Sedaris when he reads at Benaroya Hall on Wednesday, November 16th. (Here's last year's introduction.) If you're at all interested in attending this reading, you should know that tickets are on sale now, and they usually sell out very early. I attend a lot of readings, and I can tell you that Sedaris is the best reader I've ever seen. He also sticks around and signs everyone's books before and after the reading, taking the time to have a personal conversation with everyone in line. I hope to see you in November.

  • Video of Lesley Hazleton's TED Talk about soul isn't available online yet, but this account of her recent talk certainly has us intrigued — especially the bit where she describes fundamentalists:

“It’s not that they have no soul, it’s that something in them seems to have shriveled. They’ve hunkered down and built a wall inside themselves. afraid of the unknown. They live walled off from the world.”
  • Seattle cartoonist Tatiana Gill just published an autobiographical comic titled "My Body Positive Journey" to her website. It's all about the long journey of coming to peace with yourself. I reviewed a few of Gill's autobiographical comics back in November; if you like this comic, you should consider buying one of her published works.

  • What common thread unites Man Booker Prize winners? You can filter out the winners using this interactive infographic, but the answer, unfortunately, is "they're men writing books about men."

  • I often use the New York Times Book Review as an example of the kind of stodgy, establishment-friendly book reviews that we don't try to write at the Seattle Review of Books. So it's only fair that I share a NYTBR piece that absolutely knocks it out of the park: Jennifer Senior's review of serial plagiarist Jonah Lehrer's A Book About Love is that rarest of reviews: the generous takedown. You get the sense in reading the review that Senior gives Lehrer multiple opportunities to prove himself, but he disappoints her at every opportunity. Senior's review is intelligent, dramatic, funny, and never cruel for cruelty's sake. It's the best review I've read at the Times in years. You should read it.

  • The intense-sounding Computational Story Laboratory has pulled apart and analyzed novels and identified the "Six Basic Emotional Arcs of Storytelling." This is intrinsically interesting stuff, although one can picture Hollywood immediately turning it into a shitty formula for screenwriting, the way the work of Joseph Campbell has been twisted into a bad story factory. Anyway, those six arcs are:

A steady, ongoing rise in emotional valence, as in a rags-to-riches story such as Alice’s Adventures Underground by Lewis Carroll. A steady ongoing fall in emotional valence, as in a tragedy such as Romeo and Juliet. A fall then a rise, such as the man-in-a-hole story, discussed by [story-mapper and novelist Kurt] Vonnegut. A rise then a fall, such as the Greek myth of Icarus. Rise-fall-rise, such as Cinderella. Fall-rise-fall, such as Oedipus.