Question: Do you find essay writing more fun than novel writing?
Crosley: They both have their restrictions. The grass is always non-fiction or fiction, fictional on the other side. They do present different challenges but I think that essay writing is certainly more feasible if you’re trying to hold down a sort of alternate life, not to suggest that there are superhuman powers in writing, but if you use the sort of phone booth analogy for Superman going into the booth after work and becoming somebody different. It’s much easier to write essays and therefore, to stop and start and be able to put it away, whereas novel writing I think would be a little bit more difficult to have to constantly enter into the same world every day. It would be like going to the gym every day, which I would never do and don’t understand people who do, to commit themselves to this alternate reality every day seems just as strenuous on the mind as it would be on the body.
Question: What are you working on?
Crosley: I actually just started working on a novel. When I say “just started” what I have to show for it looks like I just started, but I’d been thinking about it for awhile. It’s hopefully more ambitious than my first crack at it. The first novel was basically a very, very dark comedy about a couple in rural New Hampshire and it traces the progression of their relationship, form getting together to breaking up. Now I look at it and it screams please, make me Lori Moore, Part Deux and it just didn’t work. It’s not good, is the commonly-used term. But more than that, I think that even if there are parts that are salvageable, I just think it’s too narrow, it’s too small and quiet and I don’t know what’s informing that. I don’t know if it’s working with books that are so ambitious and successful in their ambitions and so just wonderful and international and just really in-depth; or it’s just that I got sick of the constraints of one New Hampshire town. I can’t tell if it’s the writing part or the publicist part that’s making me sick of it. The next one or the really first one will be significantly more expansive in both time period and locations.
Question: What’s a funny story from your magazine days?
Crosley: There’s a couple different kinds of things I’ve been lucky enough to experiment with, or the world has allowed me to experiment with. One would be the celebrity interview, which is sort of fascinating to me. The first celebrity I ever “interviewed” was Sarah Silverman over email for Black Book and she signed all her emails with lots of x’s and o’s which really threw me. I thought she was supposed to be sort of the queen of snark and darkness and you just get the sense from her that that’s not a role that she’s playing, that that’s who she really is. I don’t know. I guess I’ve been with about 1/18th the sort of significance or popularity victim of the same kind of thing, where people tend to think this essay is too soft, this essay is too hard, you have too much edge, you’re too mean, you’re too nice. So I guess it’s all one person and Sarah Silverman, the world should know, signs her emails xoxo. But then the first in-person one I did was Maxim Magazine sent me to LA to interview the women of One Tree Hill, which is a show on the CW and I explained to them that I had never read Maxim or seen the show or interviewed anyone ever before. That apparently made me supremely qualified for this task, so I went out and they all were a lot smarter and nicer than I wanted them to be, because I had read my fair share of celebrity interviews and it just seemed easy enough to poke fun at Jessica Simpson or what have you. Because it was for Maxim, what really distilled at the end of the day was pillow fights and karaoke, but what’s not in that piece is that, it was just after Hurricane Katrina, and there was one of the women who had, I guess she became an actress, she grew up in Louisiana and she interned for the former governor and she sort of went off on this fairly interesting tirade about how everyone was blaming FEMA and FEMA is a terrible force especially at that time; but that way before this, people were living in plastic huts they’d buy from the Home Depot and they’d hook up a power cable to it and they’d call that home and the state of Louisiana wasn’t doing anything about it. So it was just weird that the state was blaming the government for sweeping away something that they weren’t taking care of to begin with. It was just so fascinating and I had totally lost sight of the interview. She’s lucky that it wasn’t for a more significant magazine that was remotely interested in anything but her breasts because she then popped up with “So I don’t see why these people are so upset, all these hurricane victims. I don’t understand what they’re so upset about.” I thought oh, we have lost contact. That’s the end of it. I try not to do those too much because I personally don’t get a lot out of them. They’re fun because it’s neat. That person was just on my television screen and now I’m talking to them and that’s still a novelty for me, but it’s not great. Any other kind of journalism I’ve done has been generally sort of book reviews or as part of a stunt journalism piece that’s really sort of an essay with quotes.
From writing essays and novels to interviewing Sarah Jessica Parker, Crosley knows publishing.
What do we see from watching birds move across the country?
- A total of eight billion birds migrate across the U.S. in the fall.
- The birds who migrate to the tropics fair better than the birds who winter in the U.S.
- Conservationists can arguably use these numbers to encourage the development of better habitats in the U.S., especially if temperatures begin to vary in the south.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.