It’s all about balance. Without my writing, I would feel very isolated. The world is such a beautiful and complex place, and science only has limited access to its wonders. Science is dominated by strict rules which preclude emotions, and I would never allow my emotions to influence my research. So, to balance out my life, I write fiction and take photographs.
I finished Zadie Smith’s Swing Time this morning. I liked, but did not love it. (more on that maybe later.) Towards the end, the narrator reads Baldwin to someone – so I’m reading Baldwin’s poetry collection as my first book of #nationalpoetrymonth.
Today, April 4th, is the day the action of George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel 1984 begins. Lit Hub points this out and offers a list of 49 other important dates in fiction.
Viet Thanh Nguyen, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer, compiled a reading list of Vietnamese and Vietnamese American authors for Lithub. I read lê thi diem thúy’s coming-of-age novel The Gangster We Are Looking For in college and can recommend it. Closing the list is Ocean Vuong’s 2016 poetry collection Night Sky with Exit Wounds, which is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I can only agree with Viet Thanh Nguyen:
“Ocean Vuong is the Walt Whitman of Vietnamese American literature. Lyrical, expansive, sexual, provocative, he sings of the Vietnamese body and of Vietnamese history.”
I’m keeping my eyes open for the other picks on the list.
Additionally, Viet Thanh Nguyen recently talked to Seth Meyers about the difference between immigrants and refugees, and what we can learn from the Vietnamese-American refugee experience in these troubled times.
The truth is, black women and women of color are the ones historically most dismissed, pushed aside in the history of American literature and poetics. But they have always been giants, to me. We’re reaching a point, or we’re at a point, where people are just going to have to get comfortable with acknowledging their greatness. Their star is literally too bright to ignore, at this point. Either bathe happily in the light, or find a whole new island.
My birthday stack of books. My loved ones sure know me well. 🎂
Words don’t need visas, but humans do. […] Citizenship is our most loaded form of fiction.
Interesting article on the benefits of reading fiction, including activating areas of the brain responsible for visualizing movement or emotional transportation. One caveat: I’m not sure if I entirely agree with their separation between literary fiction and popular fiction, because those labels are manifestations of the canon and arbitrary to a certain degree. More complex literature seems to lead to enhanced empathy. I’m not entirely sure if that is the same differentiation as literary popular young adult fiction.
Choice quote from psychologist David Comer Kidd:
“The same psychological processes are used to navigate fiction and real relationships. Fiction is not just a simulator of a social experience, it is a social experience.”
Good thing my new year’s resolution is to spend more time reading fiction, preferably in printed book form. If I am able to concentrate enough, few things recharge and calm me down as well as a good book.