paper trail

It's fine to procrastinate; Jonah Lehrer demystifies love

Jonah Lehrer

Libraries—New York City and nationwide—are booming, reports the New York Times. At a moment when one might expect membership to be declining due to the atomizing effects of the Internet, libraries have expanded their mission to meet a range of needs in the populations they serve. They offer exercise and coding classes; Internet access, which the U.N. just designated a universal human right; air-conditioning in the summer; entertainment for toddlers; and a safe space for the homeless. "In the 2016 fiscal year," New York City libraries "received $360 million for operating costs, $33 million more than the year before — the largest increase in recent times. For the 2017 fiscal year, which began on Friday, city financing for the libraries increased slightly to $365 million. But in a more significant victory, city leaders agreed to preserve past increases in future budgets, the difference, say, between getting a one-year bonus or a permanent raise.”

Also in the Times: “Some of the most creative thoughts develop during periods of so-called procrastination,” writes Andrew Ross Sorkin, an insight gleaned from Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, a recent book by Adam Grant, the youngest-ever tenured full professor at the Wharton School. Grant looks into “what it takes to be a shoot-the-moon, Steve-Jobs-like success. Many of his conclusions are counterintuitive and based on deep research.”

An author cut from the same Gladwellian cloth and disgraced for shoddy research and self-plagiarism is hoping for deliverance in the form of a book about love. A Book About Love, a new work of nonfiction by Jonah Lehrer, comes out next week and contains a contrite author’s note: “I broke the most basic rules of my profession. I am ashamed of what I’ve done. I will regret it for the rest of my life.” Lehrer, the young New Yorker staff writer who flew too close to the sun, saw two of his books, How We Decide and Imagine: How Creativity Works, yanked from the shelves after it was revealed that he had recycled material and fabricated quotes.

“My cousin Nick Pileggi was married to her, I knew her,” Gay Talese says of Nora Ephron. “This guy Richard Cohen is the only guy who could have written this book. It is a terrific book, and I knew Nora, I’m her cousin-in-law.” Talese tellsNew York Magazine that his summer reading also includes Nutshell, by Ian McEwan. “I usually read books before they are published. . . . Manuscripts. Do you know what it is like to read manuscripts? You are in your bed, and you are trying to put your pillow right, and there are manuscripts, they get lost and the dogs eat the fucking pages.”

“Miles Davis, walking the High Line in New York and looking into people’s apartments, drinking bad coffee on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village, the Arab Spring, Edward Snowden” are some of the things that inspired I Am No One, a new novel by Patrick Flanery.

If you’re in New York City and interested in “The Other Side of Genius: Interdisciplinary Artists in the Jazz Age,” head to the Strand this evening for a discussion about not being hemmed in by one’s métier. “Hemingway was a connoisseur of contemporary art, Gershwin and cummings exhibited paintings, Leger made films, Pound wrote an opera, and Picasso was spending more time backstage at the Ballets Russes than in the studio.” And you, what have you done with your life?