Critical Linking: The Most-Read Stories, May 20 – 24, 2013

Here are the most-read stories from the last week in Critical Linking…


Amis is one of the finest stylists alive, but I thought “Lionel Asbo” was a bad novel. A really bad novel. In fact, my review of “Lionel Asbo” was a finalist for the Hatchet Job — a prize given for the most negative book review of the year. And yet, on the new paperback — on thefront cover, no less — appears this ringing endorsement from The Washington Post: “Amis is a force unto himself. . . . There is, quite simply, no one else like him.”

All true. But caveat emptor. That line is drawn from a review of “London Fields” that my colleague Jonathan Yardley wrote . . . 23 years ago.

This is pretty embarrassing stuff from the publisher.


Girls, not boys, in all three countries received more time from parents on three activities: reading, storytelling, and teaching letters and numbers.

Maybe boys aren’t as interested, and so the interest isn’t reinforced? Too squirrelly to keep still? Huh.


Amazon Publishing announces Kindle Worlds, the first commercial publishing platform that will enable any writer to create fan fiction based on a range of original stories and characters and earn royalties for doing so.

Someone is going to unlock all the potential of fan fiction. Amazon has the pull to do it, but do they get the ethos of fan fiction? We’ll see, I guess.


Reducing an entire genre to one person’s books as a source of comparison is limiting and reductive of the nuances, the depth, and the range of voices that exist within it. Believe it or not, John Green is not the be all, end all of contemporary realistic YA fiction.

I hope you have your nerdfighter repellant handy.


Shakespeare wrote his finest work while living in Southwark, and he enjoyed the local beer – his work is full of fond references of the virtues of a pint of ale, and there are written records of him visiting pubs with contemporaries like Edward Alleyn or Christopher Marlowe. The trouble is, no one ever specifies which pub.

It’s always interesting to read about the spaces writers work in – or that they might have worked in. Maybe.



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