A belated welcome to the newest Millions staff writer Janet Potter. Janet is a Chicago writer and indie bookstore vet who’s already written several pieces for us on a number of books, most notably her controversial takedown of Stieg Larsson.
“Adolf Hitler loved books—that nasty bent for book burning notwithstanding—and the book industry loves him back. Type his name into Amazon, and while he doesn’t trigger the English-language numbers of Jesus (186,740) or Lincoln (70,710), he registers a solid 18,597—a stunning figure for someone who died less than 70 years ago.” On the Fuhrer’s paradoxical relationship with literature.
A new study out of Stony Brook University employs a complex statistical model to figure out what makes a book successful. Judging books on the basis of Amazon sales, awards won and Project Gutenberg downloads, the scientists determined that successful books have a higher-than-average ratio of self-references, prepositions and coordinating conjunctions. Unsuccessful books, on the other hand? A high ratio of adverbs and location markers.
All of Faulkner’s characters exist in the same county, so they probably ran into each other. What if there were a Real Housewives of Yoknapatawpha County? Nathan Pensky humorously imagines the feuds between As I Lay Dying’s Addie Bundren and the protagonist of “A Rose for Emily” among others at McSweeney’s.
At The Rumpus, Catherine Brady interviews Daniel Alarcón, who recently came out with a new novel. Alarcón talks about his love of Roberto Bolaño and the paradox of writing about prison, among other things. (You could also read Jeff Peer’s review of the author’s new book.)