Some interesting news and opinion about books from various and sundry sites, accompanied by snide commentary.
For your end-week reading pleasure, I’ve gathered some stories you might be interested in:
Solving Equation of a Hit Film Script, With Data - A statistician offers an expensive editing service to screenplay writers to assist them, based on data from past films, in modifying their scripts to increase the likelihood of a blockbuster. As an analyst I find this exciting. As a writer I know that dissecting stories objectively is important, but it seems crass to reduce narrative to a set of tropes that can be quantified in terms of commercial success. I will content myself with believing that such a methodology, while it may work for Hollywood, cannot be applied to literature. (A smarter, more cynical version of me would try to figure out how to develop one that could be.)
Memoirist Mary Karr Talks About Addiction, David Foster Wallace, Other Stuff - Mary Karr strikes me as the cool chick at home with the boys ... including DFW. I’m guessing she’s never been interviewed without being asked about him, and that must get annoying. Lit sits on my shelf, as of now unread, and this interview increases my eagerness to pick it up.
Amazon Announces Finalists In The Latest Breakthrough Novel Contest - Entering this contest can be fun and rewarding even if you don’t win: it’s extremely interactive. The contest also represents an interesting microcosm of the publishing industry as a whole, with Amazon deciding to ditch Penguin as a partner, raise the winning advance from $15,000 to $50,000, and give contracts to additional finalists.
New Novel By Pearl Buck Discovered - The headline essentially says it all. This new novel from the Nobel Prize winning author of The Good Earth will be published in the fall ... and we will probably review it.
And finally ...
Likeable Vs. Unlikeable Characters, Literary Vs. Commercial Fiction, Men Vs. Women ... Oh Heck, Who Knows, It’s A Jennifer Weiner Piece - How I loathe Jennifer Weiner’s style of argument. What is she trying to say? The piece seems interesting, perhaps I even agree with some of it, but ... please, can someone summarize in two sentences or less? Such a hopeless mish-mash of issues: I can’t quite nail it down. Is there a thesis statement somewhere? Is this one about male commercial authors who think they’re better than unlikeable protagonists? Is it about Claire Messud having a love affair with some old guy on a plane who turns out to be Michiko Kakutani in disguise? Like all Jennifer Weiner’s pieces, this one ultimately boils down to standing up for her own interests via any group identity that happens to work as a proxy at that particular time. But like a good book club book, while it may not be the best written, it’s great for discussion! Don’t fail to read the comments, especially the one from “Dearborn” (you have to click “more” a few times to see it).
Feel free to disagree heartily with me below, and enjoy!