Check out a new essay from Zadie Smith in NYRB on the uncanny, Schopenhauer, and Anomalisa. “That we believe ourselves to be separate from each other, and separate from the apparent objects of our desire, was, for Schopenhauer, the root of our suffering.” For more on Smith, read our review of NW.
Interested in writing a bestseller? You may want to check out Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers‘ newest book, The Bestseller Code. Or maybe not: “At times, it seems like Archer and Jockers are trying to retrofit a closed system. They found that best-sellers have lots of contractions—the better, they explain, to mimic contemporary speech—and exclamation points only rarely … They conclude that best-sellers consist of ‘shorter, cleaner sentences, without unneeded words,’ and that best-selling characters ‘make things happen.’ Active verbs predict best-sellers better than passive verbs. ‘Hesitation doesn’t keep pages turning,’ Archer and Jockers decide. After all that work, in other words, the algorithm ends up confirming the uncontested tenets of craft and style.”
There’s a tiff going on between Ursula le Guin and Kazuo Ishiguro. After le Guin accused Ishiguro of “despising” the fantasy genre, following an interview with the Times in which he wondered aloud if his readers would be prejudiced against his latest book, Ishiguro defended himself, claiming that he is “firmly on the side of the ogres and the pixies.” You can read a full rundown in The Guardian.
At The Awl, Noah Davis provides an honest overview of how difficult it can be to earn – or fail to earn – a living from freelance internet writing. Perhaps would-be freelancers should take a cue from Ian Hamilton’s 1998 London Review of Books essay in which he espoused the benefits – or perils – of accepting prizes and other literary subsidies.