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.”
In 1913, four years before the Russian Revolution, Tsar Nicholas II made the now-baffling claim that a writer named Teffi was the only major Russian writer. At the time, however, his endorsement made sense, because everybody in Russia, from royalty on down, read Teffi’s work and “delighted” in it. Until the revolution, at which point she was consigned to oblivion. William Grimes writes about a new collection of her stories.
LA Weekly writes up the Los Angeles indie bookstore scene, of which I was once a part. Book Soup, my former place of employment, gets a nice and quite accurate writeup. I’ve never shared my stories on the blog, but, for example, the stuff about Faye Dunaway and Elton John is true. Tyson, the star of the article, was one of our more colorful newsstand employees when I was working there. The article’s take on Book Soup owner Glenn, meanwhile, is hilarious and right on the nose. As a bonus, the LA Weekly’s package includes a little bookstore tour of Los Angeles that serves as a nice counterpoint to the one that Garth created for NYC recently.Speaking of LA, obsessive film fans and those who love them should note that Amazon is having a big sale on Criterion Collection DVDs right now.Looking for a new place to live? The house in which Jack Kerouac was born is now for rent.TEV goes out on a “limn” with Michiko Kakutani.