How does a writer keep their work fresh? What’s the goal of a successful artist? What is it like to adapt someone else’s writing for the screen? The Atlantic interviews Nick Hornby about his latest book, Funny Girl, and these are some of the questions that come up. Pair with this Millions review of Hornby’s A Long Way Down.
Putting aside for a moment the racist phrenological roots of the terms “highbrow” and “lowbrow,” here’s an interesting conversation on what the difference between them means for literature now. For a historical take, check out this graphic from a 1949 edition of LIFE magazine, which taught me a real gentleman wears fuzzy tweed, and iceberg lettuce is never in style.
My “10 Best Songs Based on Books” list, from yesterday’s Observer (UK), is up on the Guardian’s website. Obviously it’s not so much the 10 Best as the 10 Best I could think of while writing the list, but that kind of equivocation makes for terribly unsnappy titles.
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.”
Got a crush on Draco Malfoy? J.K. Rowling is concerned. In a piece on her website, she writes: “I have often had cause to remark on how unnerved I have been by the number of girls who fell for this particular fictional character.” Pair with: our own Elizabeth Minkel on Rowling and other authors with second thoughts.