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.”
Among the raft of news stories that came out about Facebook recently, you may have missed the company’s quiet revolution in grammar, signified by its adoption of the much-debated singular “they.” If thinking about this change makes you queasy, just remember that singular “they” has been around since the days of Chaucer. (Related: Fiona Maazel on bad grammar.)
“The most, the best, we can do, we believe (wanting to give evidence of love), is to get out of the way, leave space around whomever or whatever it is.” This excerpt from John Cage’s journals, forthcoming as Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse), is as baffling as it is beautiful.
New York Times travel editor Monica Drake recounts visiting Antigua after reading Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place—a sharp critique of tourism and the colonialist narrative around the island. As she puts it, “For all the drama of its history, [...] the beauty of the place, the very thing that bewitches its tourists, renders it a time capsule to its residents.”