Ratik Asokan reviews Revulsion: Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador by Horacio Castellanos Moya, a story about dealing with the violence that permeates El Salvador’s culture. “Fiction, unlike journalism, has allowed Moya to express the frustration and existential terror of living in a society thoroughly permeated by violence.” Pair with our reviews of Moya’s Tyrant Memory and The Dream of My Return.
“And now An American Marriage, with its ruminations on masculinity, married life, and what constitutes marital debt, manages the trick of arriving at the right time while also feeling utterly untethered to just one era.” BuzzFeed News profiled writer Tayari Jones about her life, oeuvre, and fourth novel, An American Marriage. Pair with: Jones’s 2017 Year in Reading entry.
Interested in writing a bestseller? You may want to check out Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers‘ newest book, The Bestseller Code. Or maybe not: “At times, it seems like Archer and Jockers are trying to retrofit a closed system. They found that best-sellers have lots of contractions—the better, they explain, to mimic contemporary speech—and exclamation points only rarely … They conclude that best-sellers consist of ‘shorter, cleaner sentences, without unneeded words,’ and that best-selling characters ‘make things happen.’ Active verbs predict best-sellers better than passive verbs. ‘Hesitation doesn’t keep pages turning,’ Archer and Jockers decide. After all that work, in other words, the algorithm ends up confirming the uncontested tenets of craft and style.”
There are all kinds of arguments for reading the canon (Italo Calvino‘s come to mind) but why should we spend time reading untested contemporary authors? Tim Parks tackles this question, with a little help from Virginia Woolf, for The New York Review of Book‘s blog, and his argument pairs well with Guy Patrick Cunningham‘s Millions essay on reading the classics.