I’ve written before about Matthew Jockers‘s claim, as reported and presented by the Paris Review, that there are only about 6 plots in fiction. Now Dan Piepenbring returns to the Review to respond to critics who and attempt to answer the questions “is it really possible to assign every word a reliable emotional valence? And even if the answer is yes, can we really claim that all the plots in the history of literature take so few basic forms?”
"Many writers write vexed introspection, or detail-oriented reporting, or counterintuitive cultural commentary, or lifestyle journalism. But so far only Didion has done all four in perfect synthesis, a prose that, at its best, can fire on every cylinder and work on multiple fields of the imagination at once." In support of the Kickstarter project for the documentary on Joan Didion, We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live, Nathan Heller looks back over Didion's writing career, her "imaginatively seductive" nonfiction writing and her carefully constructed confessionalism in a piece for Vogue.
Good news for all the Neil Gaiman fans out there–a new, four-part television series called Neil Gaiman’s Likely Stories is set to begin filming in November. The series will focus on a selection of Gaiman’s short stories and feature a singular ensemble cast throughout. This should whet everyone’s appetite for the long-awaited television adaptation of American Gods, which is set to begin production sometime in 2016.
Over at Aeon, Jenny Davidson explores what makes a great sentence. As she puts it, “A great sentence makes you want to chew it over slowly in your mouth the first time you read it. A great sentence compels you to rehearse it again in your mind’s ear, and then again later on.” Pair with our own Michael Bourne’s essay on sentence structure for creative writers.
A mom sat her six-year-old daughter down in front of some classic books and asked her to guess the story based on the cover. The results are both charming and eerily accurate. I'm glad we at least now know what lies in the liminal space between Lev Grossman and kittens inspired by kittens.