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Friday High Five: Science Smart, Richard Ford and Tony Soprano

Read Thursday, 6 Nov 2014

Friday High Five delivers – you guessed it! – five thoughtful morsels from around the internet.

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Richard Ford’s Frank Bascombe and Tony Soprano

What do Richard Ford’s multi-novel protagonist Frank Bascombe (first seen in The Sportswriter) and The Sopranos‘ Tony Soprano have in common? According to Lydia Kiesling, they offer complementary visions of American manhood at ‘the end of male authority’.

 

Brain science: Wildly popular or largely irrelevant?

Received wisdom is that brain science (or, neuroscience) is all the rage. Books like Norman Doidge’s The Brain That Changes Itself are on bestseller lists and articles about the intricacies of brain infrastructure and behaviour are everywhere. But according to recent research, most people don’t notice or care about neuroscience at all – and what’s more, they don’t want to know how their brains work. They’d prefer not to think about it.

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Solving writing problems with books

In an insightful post on the Readings blog, Christine Keneally shares her writing influences, and takes us inside the process of solving writing problems with other books – even when those books are about subjects very different from your own. Her influences include Michael Lewis, Susan ‘Quiet’ Cain and Lawrence Wright’s book on Scientology, Going Clear.

Think you’re not a science person? Maybe you’re wrong

Maths, science and engineering are subjects that are rarely easy or intuitive to learn. Students often drop out of those subjects early because they think they’re not ‘getting them. Praise for being ‘smart’ can exacerbate the problem. So what can help? Talking about the process of acquiring knowledge and figuring out solutions, according to the Atlantic.

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A better way to think about genre

Following on from the debates about the legitimacy of adults reading YA fiction, Joshua Rothman discusses the cultural legitimacy of genre fiction in the New Yorker – and the new guard of literary writers, like Emily St John Mandel, who blend ‘literary’ and ‘genre’ in their work. He asks: ‘What is it, exactly, about genre that is unliterary—and what is it in “the literary” that resists genre?’

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