“If the history of the American sentence were a John Ford movie, its second act would conclude with the young Ernest [Hemingway] walking into a saloon, finding an etiolated Henry James slumped at the bar in a haze of indecision, and shooting him dead.” Adam Haslett takes on Stanley Fish, Strunk & White, and the art of writing a sentence.
"We live in the age of opinion — offered instantly, effusively and in increasingly strident tones. Much of it goes by the name of criticism, and in the most superficial sense this is accurate." The New York Times approached six accomplished critics, Stephen Burns, Katie Roiphe, Pankaj Mishra, Adam Kirsch, Sam Anderson, and Elif Batuman to explain, in the spirit of Alfred Kazin, "what it is they do, why they do it and why it matters."
"This year, Free Comic Book Day turns sixteen years old. The good news: It can drive itself to swim practice now!" NPR's Monkey See blog provides an irreverent and useful guide to Free Comic Book Day, which is tomorrow, May 6th. "When you read a comic, you are accepting a direct message from one singular honest soul," Paul Morton wrote in our own pages a few years back.
In addition to the fact Amazon reviewers and experts agree "in aggregate about the quality of a book," non-professional reviews on Amazon tend to be "more eclectic," "more supportive of debut authors," and less biased in favor of authors with whom they associate than media experts.
What happens when a writer inserts a ghost or monster into a story? At Berfrois, Alexander Stachniak argues that much of our current literature about the uncanny fails to help writers looking to answer this question. (Related: Steve Himmer on his monstrous Mary Poppins dreams.)
Those of you with some knowledge of Pale Fire and Lolita won't be surprised to learn what Nabokov thought of dinner parties. Namely, he thought they were awful, vaguely surreal events, held largely by drunkards with overriding appetites for drama. At The Paris Review Daily, Sadie Stein quotes a passage from “The Vane Sisters” to explain why "It’s hard to think of someone you’d want less at a midcentury faculty tea, save maybe a seething Shirley Jackson.” You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov's Ada, or Ardor.