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.”
“As young writers in Balzac walk around Paris pitching historical novels with titles like The Archer of Charles IX, in imitation of Walter Scott, today an aspiring novelist might seek his subject matter in a neglected corner or along some new frontier of neurology.” Marco Roth questions the rise of the “neuronovel” at n+1.
Out this week: Flood of Fire by Amitav Ghosh; Wind/Pinball by Haruki Murakami; The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman; Let Me Tell You by Shirley Jackson; Three Moments of an Explosion by China Miéville; The Girl Who Slept with God by Val Brelinski; Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jeanine Capo Crucet; and The Daughters by Adrienne Celt. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
“An appeal for the revival of the negative book review, then, is a remonstration against forced and foppish praise, where everything is good and so nothing at all is good.” In The Baffler, Rafia Zakaria writes in praise of negative book reviews and decries the “enfeebling of literary criticism.” From our archives: our own Emily St. John Mandel writes about bad book reviews.
With the advent of e-readers, books on the subway are getting harder and harder to spot. It takes dedication to get a sense of what people are reading these days. At The Awl, Ben Dolnick sets out to catalogue a week’s worth of sightings, which included a man reading Cloud Atlas and The Stranger and a teenage girl reading Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. You could also read our own Nick Moran on the question of whether e-readers are really green.