J. M. Coetzee has published The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy with psychologist Arabella Kurtz, which details the five-year correspondence between the two. The letters offer “a rare opportunity to understand the mind of a writer who almost never speaks at length in his own voice.” For more of the Nobel laureate, read our review of The Childhood of Jesus.
In Meg Wolitzer’s new YA novel Belzhar, a group of teenagers packed off to an idyllic boarding school learn that they have the ability to undo their most serious traumas. Their discovery is sparked by a writing assignment in a class on Sylvia Plath. At Slate, Jennifer Ray Morell connects Wolitzer’s novel to Plath’s classic The Bell Jar. Related: our own Hannah Gersen’s interview with biographer Elizabeth Winder.
In the world of selling books, it’s not all about the sentences. At Ploughshares, agent Eric Nelson argues: A fresh plot matters and unusual characters do, too. “The most interesting books have characters who do the opposite of what we’d do… Imagine Hamlet, if Hamlet took decisive action. Horror movies wouldn’t exist at all without the idiot who always suggests they split up.”