Virtual Reality: The Effect of Fiction on Your Mind

What do you really know about the characters you meet on the page? Are you sure it’s healthy to visit imaginary worlds—even if they come from someone else’s imagination? And how well do authors know the characters they invent? These questions and yours will be addressed by our panel: a neurologist-novelist and expert on how we know what we know, the most prolific reader in the Northern Hemisphere, a novelist famous for the intensity of her characters, an authority on the cognitive aspects of fiction, and a memoirist who has experienced mental illness and whose father was a great American writer.

Admission: $12 general public, free to members of Mechanics Institute; reservations at (415) 393-0100 or [email protected]

Robert Burton, Elaine Petrocelli, Michelle Richmond, Blakey Vermeule, and Mark Vonnegut