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.”
The estimable New York Times Magazine profiled Patricia Lockwood this week, and in the process printed the phrase “tit-pics” for probably the first time in the Grey Lady’s history. Lockwood’s name should be no stranger to Millions readers, of course, as I’ve previously steered readers’ attention toward The Poet Laureate of Twitter’s works in the past (such as this one, and this one, and this one, too.) As a bonus, Dwight Garner reviewed her latest collection, Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, for the paper as well.
Dispirited by the deluge of advance review copies and publishing mailers (a plight to which I can relate), Ron Charles decided to forego traditional book criticism for the time being and instead to focus on reviewing something more immediately practical: a bookcase.
RIP Karl Miller, one of the founders of The London Review of Books and an editor of the magazine for thirteen years. Originally meant to fill a vacuum left by a strike at the Times Literary Supplement, the LRB grew into “the liveliest, the most serious and also the most radical literary magazine we have,” in Alan Bennett’s words.