Longtime writers know how hard it can be to tell when a piece is finished. Tolstoy famously tried to revise War and Peace right up to the book’s publication. At the Ploughshares blog, Amy Jo Burns offers tips for evaluating a piece before deciding to give it to someone else.
No surprise here — Elena Ferrante fever continues to sweep the literary world. Last week, an Italian historian was forced to deny claims that she was actually the Neapolitan novelist. Now, The Guardian takes a look at the unique history of pseudonyms and posits whether Ferrante’s mystery might outlast some famous historical masqueraders. For the unacquainted, here’s a quick piece on reading Italy through Ferrante’s work.
Not-so-breaking news: Books are the best way to store information. CDs, flash memory, hard drives, and other digital storage devices aren’t nearly as durable as good old fashioned paper. So the next time someone says you have too many books, just say it’s your attempt at immortality.
We are all by now familiar with J.K. Rowling‘s elaborate, hand-drawn outlines for the Harry Potter series, but what if all plots could be simplified further? Down to, let’s say, graphs? And not even an infinite number of graphs, but just six? The Paris Review considers the work of Matthew Jockers, a literature professor who studies “the relationship between sentiment and plot shape in fiction.”