Believe it or not, Fifty Shades of Grey was still the bestselling book of 2015. For a fascinating, in-depth look at what sold and what didn’t, head over to The Guardian. The disconnect between the retail top ten and the myriad year-end lists alone is worth the look.
Our own Emily St. John Mandel gives a glimpse of her life on the road. “I’d been on tour for so long that I had to take a picture of my hotel room door every time I checked into a new place, because otherwise I’d forget my room number,” she writes. For more of her writing, check out her Millions essay on the place where writers work.
"I began to wonder: what would a manifesto for bad poetry look like? Would it differ either superficially or deeply from the art’s graver manifestos? It really wouldn’t have to. It would merely have to persuade, and persuasion sounds very much the same whether it is honest or dishonest. If it was any good it would hold great attractiveness as a snappy piece of writing, but, if followed, it would be certain to produce bad poetry. Some harmless sophistry. In this it would be more effective than any positive manifesto, because, if guided well, no-one who sets out to write a bad poem is going to accidentally write an excellent one." Erik Kennedy lays out a manifesto for bad poetry, titled "Precepts for Perfection in Poetry," for The Rumpus. For a counterpoint, pair with our own Nick Ripatrazone's look at very good and very sad poetry, "The Saddest Poem Ever Written."
New this week: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, Carnival by Rawi Hage, In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell, Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani, the collected letters of Italo Calvino, and the seventh issue of McSweeney's food mag Lucky Peach.
"These elements of scandal, by now familiar in the #MeToo era, claimed an unusual casualty on Friday: The Nobel Prize in Literature, the world’s most prestigious accolade for writing." In the wake of a sex abuse scandal, The Swedish Academy announced it will postpone this year's award until next year when they will name two winners. In the meantime, maybe we should all mull over the problem with prestigious prizes.