We’ve all read some version of this story before. In the newest iteration of Listicles for People Just Like You over at McSweeney’s, Rufi Thrope helpfully provides Ten Signs Your Name is James and You Are Teaching English at a Fancy Boarding School.
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.”
The B.O.M.M. blog looked at our recent item Best American Short Stories: By the Numbers, in which we crunched some numbers behind the Best American Short Stories series, and created a nifty word map of the short story titles that appeared in the series from 1978 to 2008. “The most frequent word for a title (not including articles and such)? Life. It has appeared 9 times.” If anyone else decides to mine some interesting discoveries from the B.A.S.S. data, let us know.
Thanks to the generosity of Daniel Handler, the American Library Association has launched the Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity. The prize will award $3,000 and an “odd, symbolic object” of Handler’s choosing to a librarian who “has faced adversity with integrity and dignity intact.” (h/t The Paris Review)
“Good TV is not merely good TV (i.e. better-than-average TV), but TV that is so good it deserves to be taken as seriously as great films and even great Literature (yes, with a capital ‘L’). As such, watching Good TV and discussing Good TV are qualitatively different than watching and talking about other kinds of TV. The emergence of Good TV is a rather big deal in the recent history of American culture. It may well be one of the top two or three cultural developments of this still-young century.” Todd Hasak-Lowy dissects the TV revolution. (Pair with: our own Michael Bourne on the new age of cable and Broadway.) (h/t The Rumpus)