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.”
New this week are Ron Rash’s The Cove, Brian Evenson’s Immobility, and Volume Two of Susan Sontag’s Journals (all books highlighted in our January preview). Out in paperback this week is David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King, from which we recently ran a previously unpublished excerpt.
Why aren’t more people reading Italian literature? Is it due to an English “mistrust of ‘abroad’?” “Linguistic incompetence?” Or is it that “Italy’s not produced much that’s exciting or innovative … for a few hundred years?” Peter Hainsworth, author of Italian Literature: A Very Sort Introduction, investigates.