Attention literature-lovers and burrito-consumers: Chipotle has announced the second batch of writers, including Barbara Kingsolver, Amy Tan, and Neil Gaiman, for its Cultivating Thought series, which places short pieces of writing on soda cups and paper bags (we covered the first series here).
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.”
Lord Byron is perhaps our most prominent example of an extravagant writer in a bygone age. There’s a reason his antics earned him a popular adjective. However, he’s not the only writer from long ago to live large, as made clear in this New Yorker piece by Elizabeth Kolbert — inspired by the release of two new biographies — that deals with the up-and-down life and reputation of Seneca. Sample quote: “Seneca’s fortune made possible a life style that was lavish by Roman or, for that matter, Hollywood standards.”
“Wasn’t Pogofest the type of idea barely solvent towns pay marketing consultants millions of dollars to avoid? Who was Pogofest supposed to appeal to, besides—thirty years after the fact—me? I pose the question to Janice Parks, a former city commissioner. ‘Well, look what a rat did for the wasteland of Central California,’ she says.” A bizarre, slightly surreal look at Waycross, Georgia — the self-proclaimed hometown of Pogo Possum.