It seems fitting that the author of the first book explicitly banned in the United States should have the nickname the “Lord of Misrule.” At Atlas Obscura, Matthew Taub recounts the story of Thomas Morton, an English businessman who had a knack for riling up Puritans. “[Morton] revived forbidden old-world customs, faced off with a Puritian militia determined to quash his pagan festivals, and wound up in exile. He eventually sued and, like any savvy rabble-rouser should, got a book deal out of the whole affair. Published in 1637, his New English Canaan mounted a harsh and heretical critique of Puritan customs and power structures that went far beyond what most New English settlers could accept. So they banned it—making it likely the first book explicitly banned in what is now the United States.”
“Rather than outlining your plot in chronological order, try outlining your plot as if it were a candle burning at both ends. Begin the process by writing your first and last chapter simultaneously.” Amazon Author Insights gathers, well, insights on writing from Dan Brown and other famous crime and thriller novelists. (Full disclosure: Amazon helps us pay the bills around here!) We will also never not recommend this evergreen piece from our own archives, of writers on the best advice they ever received.
At the LARB, Anne Trubek quotes Lionel Trilling in a review of The Son and American Rust, the two books published thus far by New Yorker 20 Under 40 alum Phillipp Meyer. “In the American metaphysic,” Trilling wrote in his essay “Reality in America,” “reality is always material reality, hard, resistant, unformed, impenetrable, and unpleasant.” Those of you who read our pieces on both books may be able to guess why the quote is relevant.
Recommended reading: on dictionary-related panics from The New Yorker. Pair with our own Bill Morris‘s Millions essay “Prescriptivists vs. Descriptivists: The Fifth Edition of The American Heritage Dictionary.”
“Sometimes I fear that Midwestern authors are seen from a similar vantage point: that many of us are ‘fly-over writers’ to whom readers wave (or just ignore completely) as they make their way to Saul Bellow and Stuart Dybek and Marilynne Robinson. I fear that these bigger names, along with a few others (Charles Baxter, Lorrie Moore), are seen as exceptions to the general rule that little of cultural worth grows in this flat, middle stretch of the country.” On the plight of the literary Midwesterner.
It’s bye week over at Football Book Club. And while there’s no new book to read this week — everybody’s resting up, licking their wounds, and sticking pins in Jay Cutler voodoo dolls — you, gentle reader, should be sure to check in for new posts on Louisa Hall’s Speak — and Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts.