Critical Linking: August 31, 2013

Then there’s All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque — the point at which I completely lost it. Sure, that’s his biggest hit — but Remarque was one of the bestselling novelists of the 1920s through 1940s, worldwide: as this convenient year-by-year listing of the top ten bestselling works of fiction in the US for the 20th century shows, The Road Backwas one of the bestselling titles of 1931, Arch of Triumph a top-ten seller in 1946. By any definition these were ‘hits’ — much bigger hits than some of the one-hit wonders they list, at least sales-wise.

Anytime the word “ultimate” is used in a post title, the author’s just asking for backlash.


Given how difficult it is for first-time fiction authors, especially in a crowded genre like mystery, to find both an agent and publisher, it’s not clear “The Cuckoo’s Calling” would have made it off the slush piles. At least one other publisher, Orion Books, which like Little, Brown, is a subsidiary of the Hachette Book Group, rejected the manuscript. An editor there told The Telegraph in London that the book “didn’t stand out.”

Fame is always going to help things along. But J.K. Rowling had to start somewhere.


Bowing to Tea Party pressure, Alabama State Senator Bill Holtzclaw said this week that he thinksThe Bluest Eye, Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison’s novel about a little black girl who wishes for blue eyes, should be banned in schools. He only made this statement after GOP members criticized him for opposing a repeal of the federal Common Core standards. The Bluest Eye is on the 11th grade reading list for the Common Core, a set of standards that has been adapted by more than 40 states.  

Obviously, someone needs a lesson on how to stand up to bullies.


I first studied Heaney in English classes. We all read “Digging” and diligently analysed its central metaphor about a pen being to a writer what a spade is to a farmer. It must have been the first time I recognised a metaphor. 

There are many people, and will be many more, that will find their first metaphor in a Seamus Heaney poem.


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