Do Vonnegut and David Foster Wallace qualify, and if not, why not?
What makes a book a classic? That’s one of the most acrimonious, endless and irresolvable discussions in the literary world. Like debates over which books are “great” (and why), it’s also a mostly pointless question, fodder for overcaffeinated undergraduate bull sessions, feral comments threads and other milieus suffering under the delusion that we can arrive at an ironclad consensus on what constitutes literary merit.
Filed under Books, Writing
This week I’m publishing a new novel, The Last Enchantments, about an American abroad at Oxford (kind of a Brideshead Revisited remix). It will be the eighth book of mine released by a big New York publishing house, but I think it was only somewhere around the fifth or sixth that I stopped feeling like an impostor. There’s no magical change you feel when your first book finally sells – the same doubts are still there, and definitely the same feeling that you’re a kind of crazy charlatan, trying to trade words out of your brain for money.
We used to know what it took to be a writer – you had to publish a book. But electronic publishing is piling pressure on myths of the author’s life.
In hock to the digital revolution … Amanda Hocking has enjoyed runaway success with her self-published paranormal fiction. Photograph: Carlos Gonzalez/Polaris
Have high schools replace novels with nonfiction, and other dubious prescriptions for creating a nation of readers.
Filed under Books, Marketing
How did Charlotte Brontë make it easier for everyone to breathe? She created Eyre.
New Year’s resolutions tend toward self-improvement. This is the year you will start going to the gym, or finally kick caffeine, or nip in the bud your nascent addiction to cronuts. Maybe you have promised to watch less television, or you have fiendishly reasoned that self-improvement relies on watching more television: you still don’t know what happened at the Red Wedding or who Walter White is, and this is making it hard for you to connect with your fellow human beings.
Computer scientists have developed an algorithm which can predict with 84 per cent accuracy whether a book will be a commercial success – and the secret is to avoid cliches and excessive use of verbs.