Don't blame Amazon or Goodreads for authors writing rave reviews of their own work. Writers have been self-promoting since the 1700s, when it was called "puffery." As Nicholas Mason writes for Symposium Magazine, "Nearly every British writer of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries either participated in or benefitted from ginned-up book reviews." The list of puffed up authors includes Mary Wollstonecraft, Walter Scott, and Mary Shelley.
Over at Full Stop, Sean Minogue argues that social media can have a positive influence on a writer’s creative development. He mentions Twitter extraordinaire Teju Cole, who thinks his involvement in online discussions "comes from the non-American part of me which is saying that novelists in every other country, with the exception of the American or the Anglo-American sphere, actually consider it part of their work to engage.” Pair with our piece on the best of literary Twitter.
What if Hamlet were a punk who skateboarded over Ophelia? At The Toast, Mallory Ortberg imagines Shakespeare's Hamlet with a teenage dirtbag cast complete with hilarious illustrations by Matt Lubchansky. "im going to the cemetery to touch skulls." We hope this becomes a regular series.
Stephen King, Haruki Murakami, Chris Adrian, James Frey, and Peter Nádas are all in the running for the 19th annual Bad Sex Award. The award will be presented by the UK's Literary Review on December 6th. Last year's prize(?) went to Rowan Somerville for his work(?) in The Shape of Her. If you'd like to read snippets of the sex scenes in question, check out the publication's Twitter feed.