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.”
Amazon collected some of the funniest, top-voted reviews from customers on its website. “Occasionally customer creativity goes off the charts in the best possible way,” they said. Of course, there are also plenty of examples of customers going off the charts in the worst possible ways, too.
“Marlon James’s management of the voice and the paragraph isn’t what you’d call unpretty, and he’s good at having it both ways on a larger scale too. Reptilian black-ops masterminds out of a Robert Stone novel as well as bumbling CIA bureaucrats, baroque deaths in the bush and casual killings by the side of the road, historical and magic realism, sex and violence and a more ‘sophisticated kind of art’: the guy’s got it all.” This review of James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings from The London Review of Books is well worth the read.
Readers and writers and professors tend to read and talk about the same books over and over again. Moby-Dick? Check. Anna Karenina? Of course. But what about the books that deserve the same attention and love but don’t seem to get it? There are too many to name, of course, but The American Scholar has put together a list of 10 such “neglected classics.”