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.”
Comic book creator, novelist, screenwriter, journalist, lyricist — is there anything Neil Gaiman hasn’t done? He can add professor to his already impressive resume soon. Gaiman will be joining the Bard College faculty and teaching an advanced fantasy fiction workshop in the 2014 spring semester. Also, he recently spoke to NPR about Sandman.
Jessica Francis Kane’s mother worked for Playboy back in the 1960s, a time “when it was an intellectual magazine as well as a pinup, when people really did subscribe to it for the articles.” Over at The Morning News, Kane shares a fascinating interview with her mother, and they talk about what it was “like to be a woman … in such a sexy workplace at such a weird time.”
At The Daily Beast, Newsweek reporter Barbie Latza Nadeau on Amanda Knox, the American university exchange student convicted of the murder of her roommate, an English exchange student, Meredith Kircher, by Italian criminal courts in December 2009. The murder took place in Perugia, Italy, where both girls were studying abroad. The case, with its suggestions of ritual sexual violence, and Knox’s bizarre behavior throughout the investigation and trial transfixed the Italian media. The excerpt at the Beast is from Nadeau’s new book Angel Face: The True Story of Student Killer Amanda Knox.
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In a time of crisis, any decision is better than no decision at all. That line–credited to Theodore Roosevelt–is pop conventional wisdom. An excellent piece at Aeon explores the full implications of the line, and may just convince you that your next impossible choice should be made by a soothsayer, a lottery, or a flipped coin.