Carolyn Keene, a name recognizable to most as the author of the Nancy Drew series, has never existed. By now, it’s a well-known secret that the popular mystery series was penned by an ever-changing cast of ghostwriters, ever since Nancy’s creation in 1930 by publisher Edward Stratemeyer. For CrimeReads, Radha Vatsal takes a look at Carolyn Keene’s many identities and how, in the end, it doesn’t matter who wrote the books. “Having a single name like Carolyn Keene attached to the Nancy Drew books helps reinforce a sense of consistency,” Vatsal explains, “and smooths over the reality that each volume had been worked over by many hands before it appeared in print.”
“The Goldfinch is a grand nineteenth-century novel in that it is an 800-page chronicle of capitalism, a paean to the ways in which the world turns on the questions of who can or can’t pay for what, and how these abilities and inabilities mold us over time. Like the life events and relationships it depicts, it purports to be about love but is actually about money. This portrayal of twentieth century North American society is accurate, but also, just as in life, both exhausting and demoralizing.” On Donna Tartt’s latest novel. (You could also read Adam Dalva’s take on the book.)
Jeff Sharlet had a challenge for his creative nonfiction students at Dartmouth College. Sensing that journalism had become too “dull,” too mired in a “culture of professionalism” divided “between reporting and ‘storytelling,’” Sharlet asked his students who didn’t “know [any] better” to create a magazine of their own. The result, 40 Towns, embraces “the right conditions” of literary creation – immersion, journalism, regionalism and “a term of revision” – to present a “collection of documents, artifacts of real life” about the Upper Valley.
According to The Guardian, “researchers in Australia have developed a computer program which writes its own fables, complete with moral.” No word yet on whether they’re any good.