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.”
“The company has forged a chain uncommon in mainstream publishing: an unbroken line of black women, from the novel’s protagonist, via the author, to the editor, to the art director who created the cover art (featuring a black woman).” Meet the trio of Black women at Kensington Publishing who are changing (modernizing) the traditional lily white romance genre.
“One thing that could have made this story end differently is if the United States had a significant cultural policy. We have a trade policy – we protect industries we value – and we have an anti-trust policy designed to protect consumers. We have arts and humanities endowments that assist institutions. But our cultural policy is mostly to let culture fend for itself in the open market. It works great, but sometimes it doesn’t.” Salon looks at what Amazon, the Penguin-Random House merger, and the imposition of capitalism to culture might mean for literature at large.
A couple months ago, I linked to a new Granta series in which authors select one of their own first sentences and recall how they came to it. This week, Patrick French explains the first sentence of a nonfiction piece titled “After the War” (available in Granta 125) by digging up an old photograph that shows how the Edwardian English were “stitched and machined into a grid of expectations.”
“Because at the end of the day, there is no magic solution, no short-cut, to writing something that hopefully will last. No matter how we search for one.” Jeff VanderMeer gives eight writing tips for aspiring writers in the Chicago Review of Books. See also: VanderMeer’s prolific 2017 Year in Reading entry.
Kate Atkinson’s editor at Little Brown, Reagan Arthur, has posted at the LBC blog and there’s some good Q & A going on in the comments.I just surreptitiously spy on people reading, but Ed – prompted by an idea from Sara – marches right up to them and quizzes them on their literary knowledge.Been enjoying a couple of new (new to me, anyway) book blogs recently: Using Books Weblog and BookLust.
Author Jim Crace reflects on his final book in Abu Dhabi’s The National: “The thing is, I’ve written an appalling amount of books. … The writing life doesn’t last forever. I am fit and well, and there are plenty of other things to do that I’m excited about, which are incompatible with spending most of my life shut up in a room. So that’s what I’m going to do, write a final book, and that will be it.”