Flannery O'Connor said short stories need to have a beginning, a middle and an end, though not necessarily in that order. But what about novels? Kate Atkinson seems to believe there can be a beginning, a middle and an end, and then another beginning, plus several more middles ... and why not have a beginning again?
When anthropologists tallied the use of emotional words through a century of literature, they included many books without clear emotional content — technical manuals, for example, and automotive repair guides.
Credit Steve Debenport / iStockphotography
Researchers were able to chart historical periods of positive and negative moods through literature. Values above zero indicate generally "happy" periods, and values below the zero indicate generally "sad" periods.
Credit Alberto Acerbi, Vasileios Lampos, Philip Garnett, R. Alexander Bentley / PLOS ONE
Were people happier in the 1950s than they are today? Or were they more frustrated, repressed and sad?
To find out, you'd have to compare the emotions of one generation to another. British anthropologists think they may have found the answer — embedded in literature.
Several years ago, more or less on a lark, a group of researchers from England used a computer program to analyze the emotional content of books from every year of the 20th century — close to a billion words in millions of books.
The problem with chili has always been this: When you try to eat it with your hands, you get terrible burns and weird looks from the snooty side of your family at the 2007 Chillag Family Reunion. Speaking of which — why don't you guys just go back to your solid gold houses and your Harvard "utensils" and leave me alone? I am who I am.
Anyway, the great Wiener and Still Champion in Evanston, Ill., has solved this problem with the Chili Bomb. It's chili, mixed with melted cheese, wrapped in cornbread and fried.
This is FRESH AIR. We're going to remember the record producer and engineer Phil Ramone who died Saturday at the age of 79. He won 14 Grammys. He started his career as an engineer, recording singers like Lesley Gore, Dusty Springfield and Dionne Warwick. He went on to produce recordings by Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Barbara Streisand, Ray Charles and Tony Bennett as well as the original cast recording of Stephen Sondheim's "Passion."
For all our talk about food, we don't like to think much about it after we put it in our mouths. But Mary Roach — whose latest book is Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal — did just that. Gulp takes a close look at the human digestive system, from the mouth on down, and Roach writes that she wants readers to say not, "This is gross," but instead, "I thought this would be gross, but it's really interesting. OK, and maybe a little gross."
Now it's time for a Wisdom Watch conversation. That's a part of the program where we talk to those who've made a difference with their work. Today we're talking with Clinton Galloway. He's the author of the book "Anatomy of a Hustle: Cable Comes to South Central L.A."