Infinite Lolz, Bolaño Reading List, Three-Day Novels, and More Literary Links
- Maud Newton has an interesting essay in the New York Times called Another Thing to Sort of Pin on David Foster Wallace in which she argues that David Foster Wallace influenced the language of bloggers:
And if, even from Wallace, the aw-shucks, I-could-be-wrong-here, I’m-just-a-supersincere-regular-guy-who-happens-to-have-written-a-book-on-infinity approach grates, it is vastly more exasperating in the hands of lesser thinkers. In the Internet era, Wallace’s moves have been adopted and further slackerized by a legion of opinion-mongers who not only lack his quick mind but seem not to have mastered the idea that to make an argument, you must, amid all the tap-dancing and hedging, actually lodge an argument.
I do agree with Newton about the frequent flaws of blog posting and internet writing in general, especially what she says in the above quote about so many bloggers failing to actually make an argument. The “gee-life-is-complicated-and-I-don’t-know-anything-so-here-are-some-unfiltered-feelings-but-don’t-hold-me-to-them” style of internet writing is depressingly common, especially in literary circles. However, I’m not sure Wallace is the source of these issues. Especially since the failure to make arguments or actually say anything is a worse problem than stylistic tics, and Wallace was certainly one to make arguments.
- Interested in writing critical reviews without worrying about burning bridges in the literary world? HTMLGIANT has a call for anonymous reviews. Perhaps I can also note here that The Faster Times welcomes (non-anonymous) book review queries.
- White Readers Meet Black Authors has a list of upcoming titles to look out for.
- Famous science fiction and fantasy writer Michael Moorcock spent his early career cranking out pulpy swords and sorcery novels. Apparently, he got the “science” of pulp down to the point that he could crank out an entire book in as little as three days! Wet Asphalt lists some of Moorcock’s tips on how to do this yourself. Examples:
- “There’s always a sidekick to make the responses the hero isn’t allowed to make: to get frightened; to add a lighter note; to offset the hero’s morbid speeches, and so on.
The hero has to supply the narrative dynamic, and therefore can’t have any common-sense. Any one of us in those circumstances would say, ‘What? Dragons? Demons? You’ve got to be joking!’ The hero has to be driven, and when people are driven, common sense disappears. You don’t want your reader to make common sense objections, you want them to go with the drive; but you’ve got to have somebody around who’ll act as a sort of chorus.”
- “‘When in doubt, descend into a minor character.’ So when you’ve reached an impasse, and you can’t move the action any further with your major character, switch to a minor character ‘s viewpoint which will allow you to keep the narrative moving and give you time to think.”
Eat your heart out NaNoWriMo.
- Clicking around Amazon.com the other day, I found out that the profile of On Human Bondage author W. Somerset Maugham describes him as “the third studio album by the American hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan.” (Wu-Tang’s third album was called The W.)
- Forbes publishes a list of the highest-paid authors. James Patterson, Danielle Steel, Stephen King, Janet Evanovich, and Stephenie Meyer round out the top five.
- In my recent essay on Roberto Bolaño’s Between Parentheses, I mentioned that you could construct a good reading list of Spanish language literature from the books he praises. Conversational Reading has done just that (although not linguistically restricted).
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