“I do not wish to presume. I want to love. Oh God please make my mind clear.” It’s no secret that Flannery O’Connor was both an incredible writer and a devout Catholic. The New Yorker has just published a few excerpts from her Prayer Journal which are characteristically beautiful whether or not you’re a believer.
Anyone who’s majored in the humanities has likely heard warnings that it's better to major in the sciences. If, as many would have it, we live in a scientist’s world, what place is there for the arts? At the Ploughshares blog, Cathe Shubert finds a place for writers in a STEM-obsessed society. You could also read Cathy Day on the job prospects of writers.
Jane Austen is a rare figure. Acclaimed as one of the most brilliant authors in modern history, she has a popularity that few of her peers can match, as evidenced by her posthumous sales and huge numbers of dedicated fans. How did her work hit the sweet spot of broad appeal and scholarly fame? In the WSJ, Alexander McCall Smith provides a theory. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)
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."
“They would have closed, if the community hadn’t stepped forward.” The Guardian reports on the rapidly growing number of British libraries being run by volunteers, a trend driven by austerity cuts (which Corinne Purtill wrote about in these very pages just a few weeks ago).
Villanelle Bot, a Twitter bot that composes poems in villanelle form, is publishing the automated poetry on their blog. The bot uses Twitter posts from random people, then stitches together all lines that end in certain words to form a full poem. You could also check out our piece on the best of literary Twitter.