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.”
Recently, it seemed hard to find a book not blurbed by Gary Shteyngart. He did blurb 150 books in the past decade. Yet now the author has decided to mostly retire from blurbing, he announced in The New Yorker. “Literature can and will go on without my mass blurbing. Perhaps it may even improve.” Pair with: Our own Bill Morris’s essay on whether or not to blurb.
“Wallace’s status has rapidly evolved from marginal writer, noted for long, experimental work, to indispensable reference point for people writing about almost anything—from college football to WikiLeaks.” On the powerful afterlife of David Foster Wallace.
Year in Reading alumna and New York Times Book Review editor Parul Sehgal writes about her childhood reading habits. Millions readers should take a keen interest in this write-up for a couple reasons: 1) it’s awesome; and 2) the other half of her “we” is our associate editor, Ujala Sehgal.
“But we are lured into believing that the first person is the manifestation of an authentic self. Or: we fall for the first person because we feel so little coherence in our own internal lives, and immersing ourselves in a sustained first person narrative gives us the false reassurance of an illusion.”