The 80th birthday of Philip Roth inspires a festschrift of sorts over at New York Magazine, with Sam Lipsyte, Kathryn Schulz, James Franco (natch), and others weighing in on Roth’s Best Book and other vexed questions. (For the record, it’s Sabbath’s Theater.)
In the world of selling books, it’s not all about the sentences. At Ploughshares, agent Eric Nelson argues: A fresh plot matters and unusual characters do, too. “The most interesting books have characters who do the opposite of what we’d do… Imagine Hamlet, if Hamlet took decisive action. Horror movies wouldn’t exist at all without the idiot who always suggests they split up.”
We submit that beginning a love story with the lede “I never intended to get a tortoise” pretty much guarantees that the reader will read to the end. In Sunday’s New York Times Style section, Caroline Leavitt puts our theory to the test. (If you like her essay, you might want to pre-order her new novel.)
Last week, I directed you to Catie Disabato’s Thick Skin interview at 0s&1s. This week, Year in Reading alum Laura van den Berg joins them for the latest installment of the series, in which authors address their critics. We also recently interviewed van den Berg following the release of her first novel, Find Me.