In his recent collection of poetry, The Americans, David Roderick examines the spaces in which Americans make their homes, calling on his readers to view them in the context of American history. At The Rumpus, Brian Simoneau reviews the collection, which he says illuminates some of his own odd feelings about moving from Boston to Connecticut.
A new study out of Stony Brook University employs a complex statistical model to figure out what makes a book successful. Judging books on the basis of Amazon sales, awards won and Project Gutenberg downloads, the scientists determined that successful books have a higher-than-average ratio of self-references, prepositions and coordinating conjunctions. Unsuccessful books, on the other hand? A high ratio of adverbs and location markers.
Our friends at Electric Literature are Kickstarting Papercuts, “a party game for the rude and well-read.” We would’ve pledged anyway, but this pitch sealed the deal: “It’s what Kurt Vonnegut, James Baldwin, and Virginia Woolf would play if they were alive, locked in a room together, and forced to play a card game.” This Cards Against Humanity for the literary set will be delivered in time for Christmas, so keep it in mind for your erudite stocking stuffer needs.
Both Ed and the Washington Post interview Tobias Wolff on the occasion of the release of his new collection, Our Story Begins.Bookride chronicles some of the most unlikely and amazing discoveries in the history of book collecting. In part one, he discusses many runners-up – including “An incredible collection of modern first editions, mostly fine in jackets turned up in the 1980s in a shed in the Australian desert causing dealers to fly in from New York, Berkeley and Santa Barbara.” Part two covers the greatest find. It begins “In 1907, during his second expedition to Chinese Central Asia, Sir Aurel Stein, a Hungarian-born British archaeologist, encountered a monk who showed him a hoard of manuscripts preserved in a cave near Dunhuang.”In BOMB, Zachary Lazar and Christopher Sorrentino discuss Lazar’s book Sway. Lazar appeared in our Year in Reading.You may have to wait ten years for the rest of it, but Junot Diaz gives readers a sneak peak at his next novel at Omnivoracious.Baseball predictions, highly personalized.J.K. Rowling, now retired from writing about a boy wizard, has embarked on the next step of her career, protecting her legacy. First up is a lawsuit against a companion book written by a superfan librarian. But, as the Times seems to indicate with its account of the trial, that way madness lies: “The librarian, Steven Jan Vander Ark, had the mild-mannered demeanor of Ron Weasley, and the intelligence, charm – and haircut – of Harry Potter. Even his name sounds like that of a character in one of the books, if preceded by “Lord” or “Master.” Although, at 50, he is older than Ms. Rowling, 42, he looked like a schoolboy, with an unlined face and caramel-colored hair parted down the middle.”
Electric Literature held a Twitter contest recently in which their followers invented new literary neologisms for a chance to win copies of Carson Mell’s new e-book Saguaro. For my money, the clear winner was “Vonnegutsy: having the fortitude to mix aspects of genre fiction with literary fiction.”