This week! Books!
David Owen of The New Yorker and I should absolutely go bowling together because he has written an exhaustive screed against front-loaded, somersaulting sentences, which has a surprising history with roots in journalism and misguided “elegant variation.” David my man, tell it like it is:
The awkwardness is obvious if you imagine hearing one in conversation. No one has ever said to you, “A sophomore at Cornell, my niece is coming home for Christmas,” or “Sixty-six years old, my wife is an incredible cook.” Either sentence, if spoken, would sound almost comical, as though the speaker were struggling to learn English. (You wouldn’t use one in an e-mail or a text to a friend, either.) Yet, if you were writing an obituary for your college’s alumni magazine, let’s say, you wouldn’t hesitate: “A standout schoolboy athlete, he ran his family’s door-and-window business.”
Here’s my own stance against the relatedly abhorrent “[VERBING], character [VERBED]” sentence structure.
An update on Susan Meachen, the author who allegedly faked her own death and then re-appeared in the romance forum she frequented. Police have questioned her, and Ellen Barry of the New York Times caught up with her for an interview. Barry provides more background on what happened from Meachen’s and her family’s points of view, as well as her online friends’. The story, as you might expect, is not a happy one.
Congrats to Meg Medina, who has been named Library of Congress’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, a two year position that involves “traveling across the country to encourage kids to read, talk about books and share stories.”
Dan Kois takes a look at book cover artist Lorraine Louie’s classic designs for the ’90s Vintage Contemporaries series.
A few weeks back, Ted Goia took a look at Barnes & Noble’s (nascent it must be said) turnaround led by new CEO James Daunt, particularly his decision to abandon co-op, the prominent placement publishers used to purchase at the front of stores. There’s a lot of talk in publishing circles about the implications. It’s yet another sales silver bullet that has been taken away from major publishers, making it ever-more-difficult to break out new authors in a big way. For individual authors, however, there’s a new lifeline. In Goia’s view, the most important change is that it makes Barnes & Noble stores interesting again.
Writing careers are very rarely linear, and I enjoyed this post by Jennifer Hubbard about how nearly everyone goes through a cycle of ups, downs, and near-misses, without ever really feeling like they’ve “made it.”
And Sam Thielman has a thoughtful look at what it meant for HBO Max to suddenly remove the Looney Tunes cartoons from its catalog, leaving only imperfect used DVDs in circulation. It’s a situation that has broader implications for any digital media, including e-books.
This week in bestsellers
Here are the top five NY Times bestsellers in a few key categories. (All links are affiliate links):
Adult print and e-book fiction:
- It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover
- It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
- The House of Wolves by James Patterson and Mike Lupica
- Verity by Colleen Hoover
- Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- Spare by Prince Harry (You’re not MY prince!!! But sure, fine, call yourself whatever you want it’s a free country thanks to the American revolution ever heard of it?)
- The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama
- I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
- The Nazi Conspiracy by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch
Young adult hardcover:
- The Stolen Heir by Holly Black
- Nick and Charlie by Alice Oseman
- Five Survive by Holly Jackson
- The First to Die at the End by Adam Silvera
- Long Live the Pumpkin King by Shea Ernshaw
Middle grade hardcover:
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- Refugee by Alan Gratz
- The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
- Little Leaders by Vashti Harrison
- Little Legends by Vashti Harrison with Kwesi Johnson
This week on the blog
In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:
- Infuse a character’s desires into their observations
- Do you want the reader to understand your story? (page critique)
Don’t forget that you can nominate your first page and query for a free critique on the blog:
And keep up with the discussion in all the places!
And finally, Yo La Tengo has long been my favorite band, and forty years into their career, their longevity and standards are incredible. I really enjoyed this recent interview where they talk about how they do it.
Have a great weekend!
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Photo: The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA
JOHN T. SHEA says
Yikes! Striking a blow for freedom against pedantry, I would fling the ball down the wrong lane just to irritate David Owen if I ever went bowling with him. Then I would explain the difference between formal and informal language to him. But that’s just me…
I would fling the ball down the wrong lane just to irritate David Owen if I ever went bowling with him. Then I would explain the difference between formal and informal language to him. But that’s just me
Michael Allan Scott says
The less verbose the better, regardless of structure. Some structures allow fewer words to achieve the desired communication. Besides, who reads their books out loud?