“On the surface ‘The Lady with the Little Dog’ is a love story,” writes Elliott Holt in a blog post for The Missouri Review. “[It’s] a romantic one at that, but it’s also about the tension between the person we show the world and the one we keep to ourselves. The older I get, the more the story resonates with me.”
The Guardian published a couple of fun pieces earlier this week. The first is a hilarious excerpt from Mallory Ortberg’s Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters. The second is a collection of the top ten most memorable meals in all of literature.
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.”
Recommended Reading: On lyric essays and trauma at Ploughshares. “I didn’t start writing lyric essays until I found out I had cancer. The melanoma buried in my right cheek was at first missed, and then misdiagnosed in its severity. Clark’s stage IV, they told me. Likely in my lymph nodes, but they wouldn’t know until my third surgery, the excision and biopsy.”
Junot Díaz has criticized MFA programs for being “too white.” So what’s on his syllabi? Salon found the syllabi for the two courses Díaz teaches at MIT. In his fantasy world-building class, students read everyone from Bram Stoker to Octavia Butler. His advanced fiction course includes stories by Edwidge Danticat and Roberto Bolaño. Where can we sign up?
Did Gollum have a vitamin D deficiency? In the Medical Journal of Australia, Joseph A. Hopkinson and Nicholas S. Hopkinson posit that the Lord of the Rings saga could’ve been prevented had the inhabitants of Middle Earth just gotten a little more sunlight. “Systematic textual analysis of The Hobbit supports our initial hypothesis that the triumph of good over evil may be assisted to some extent by the poor diet and lack of sunlight experienced by the evil characters.”