A while back, our own Mark O’Connell argued that Flann O’Brien, in The Poor Mouth, was the funniest writer who ever lived. Now, in an essay, Erin Somersin says the title should go to Mordecai Richler instead. She writes about the Canadian author’s unique sense of humor in a piece for the Ploughshares blog.
As summer rolls around, you might way to get acquainted with The Vonnegut Review. Conceived by Wilson Taylor and Matthew Gannon, the review will function as a season-long project “dedicated toward reading and reviewing all fourteen of Kurt Vonnegut’s novels.” You can participate with the Review’s Twitter and Tumblr posts by utilizing the hashtag “#VonnegutSummer.”
Out this week: The Devil in Montmartre by Gary Inbinder; The Emperor of Ice Cream by Dan Gunn; Deeds of Darkness by Edward Marston; and The Cat and the Moon and Other Cat Poems, chosen by the British Library. For more on these and other recent titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
“Six thousand books is a lot of reading, true, but the trash like Hell's Belles and Kid Colt and The Legend of the Lost Arroyo and even Part-Time Harlot, Full-Time Tramp that I devoured during my misspent teens really puff up the numbers. And in any case, it is nowhere near a record. Winston Churchill supposedly read a book every day of his life, even while he was saving Western Civilization from the Nazis. This is quite an accomplishment, because by some accounts Winston Churchill spent all of World War II completely hammered.”
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."