It’s a question that puzzles writers of all stripes: why is so much academic writing so terrible? It’s an issue that’s been a lifelong head-scratcher for the linguist Steven Pinker, who set out to answer the question once and for all. His verdict? It has to do with the meaning of “literary style.”
With the end of the “Golden Age of TV,” let’s turn back to the show that started it all: Twin Peaks, “a revelation and inspiration for countless writers coming of age in the early 90s.” The new Twin Peaks Project begins with this nostalgic article in The Believer.
One thing that pretty much everyone can agree on is that Go Set a Watchman is a controversial book. Our own Michael Bourne said it “fails as a work of art in every way except as a corrective to the standard sentimental reading of Atticus Finch.” At Slate, Dan Kois, Meghan O’Rourke and Katy Waldman debate the main questions the novel raised.
Year in Reading alumnus Alexander Chee writes about the impulse to write fiction, his first novel, and unpublished manuscripts in an essay for the Center For Fiction’s Why Fiction Matters series. “The first story I ever invented for public consumption was in a book report back in grade school. I had made a vow to read every book in my grade school library, and at some point, as I made my way through them, I remember very clearly understanding that there was simply no way my teacher would know about every book ever published—this was before the Internet—and so I decided I would make one up and see if she noticed.” Pair with this Millions piece, featuring six writers looking back on their first novels.
Out this week: Some Luck by Jane Smiley; Reunion by Hannah Pittard; The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue; Man V. Nature by Diane Cook; The Hilltop by Assaf Gavron; The Hundred Days by Joseph Roth; The Figures of Beauty by David MacFarlane; There Must Be Some Mistake by Frederick Barthelme; Citizen by Claudia Rankine; and Lila by Marilynne Robinson. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.