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.”
Out this week: Made for Love by Alissa Nutting; The Reason You’re Alive by Matthew Quick; The Graybar Hotel by Curtis Dawkins; The Tower of the Antilles by Achy Obejas; Out in the Open by Jesús Carrasco; and Who Is Rich? by Matthew Klam. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
When John Steinbeck wasn’t busy writing 600-page novels, he might have been a Cold War CIA spy. In 1952, Steinbeck approached the CIA and suggested he could do some spying on an upcoming European trip. “The pace and method of my junket together with my intention of talking with great numbers of people of all classes may offer peculiar advantages,” he wrote to an agent.
After roughly three years and an astounding 2,373 posts, Nick Moran is handing off his duties on the Curiosities blog. When we re-launched the site in 2009, we had the idea that a faster-paced mini-blog would add a lot to The Millions, giving readers fresh material to check out and give us a more “newsy” feel, but we weren’t able to really fully execute on that idea until Nick came along and took it over. First as an intern, and then later as our Social Media Editor, he created the Curiosities blog’s voice and hammered out a process that subsequent contributors have followed. He has brought a lot of readers to The Millions this way. Nick will, thankfully, be sticking around to continue to oversee our social media efforts, intern program and help with various projects and posts, including our Top Ten lists.
“A ‘Complete Poems’ is a death certificate and memorial combined. After the Selected and the Collected, the Complete marks the poet’s official demise and at the same time erects a carven monument designed to outlast the ages.” At The Guardian John Banville reviews The Complete Poems of Philip Larkin which will be out on these shores in March.