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'Billiard Rack' Genitals Win Bad Sex in Fiction Award

'Unsure as to how many testicles the character in question has'

(Newser) - Despite facing tough competition from novels featuring the phrases "mouth-machine" and "diabolical torso," Christopher Bollen took home the 2017 Bad Sex in Fiction award Thursday in London, courtesy of the Literary Review . NPR reports the passage that earned Bollen the prize comes from his novel The Destroyers.... More »

Teacher Makes 4-Year-Old Stop Writing With 'Evil' Hand

Pre-K student Zayde in Oklahoma thinks his left hand is 'bad'

(Newser) - A teacher scolded a 4-year-old student in Oklahoma over writing with his "bad" left hand, and then sent the boy's mother literature detailing how left-handedness is associated with wickedness and the devil. Alisha Sands, who is left-handed herself, says son Zayde has always used his left hand to... More »

Why a New Yorker Writer Stole From ... Himself

Jonah Lehrer blog lifted full paragraphs from earlier pieces

(Newser) - A new staff writer at the New Yorker has already taken to plundering the work of others. Well, one other—himself. Three paragraphs in Jonah Lehrer's June 12 blog post appear in a Wall Street Journal piece he penned last year, media commentator Jim Romenesko revealed yesterday . Some of... More »

Alice Walker Blocks Israeli Edition of Color Purple

Author accuses Israel of persecuting Palestinians

(Newser) - Alice Walker is prohibiting an Israeli publisher from printing a new Hebrew-translated edition of her classic novel The Color People because, says Walker, "Israel is guilty of apartheid and persecution of the Palestinian people." Walker has been a vocal critic of Israeli policies, reports the Los Angeles Times ... More »

Gadget of the Year? Pen and Paper

Mark W. Smith: 'Cumbersome' smartphones can't beat old-fashioned writing

(Newser) - Smartphones and tablets have left everything from alarm clocks to GPS systems pretty much "obsolete"—but iPhones and BlackBerrys still haven't topped writing by hand, writes Mark Smith in the Detroit Free Press . He's no technophobe—in fact, he's a tech columnist. But when he... More »

This Year's Winner for Bad Sex Writing Is ...

David Guterson, for an Oedipus-like shower scene in 'Ed King'

(Newser) - Ron Charles of the Washington Post wins the prognosticator award among book critics. When he reviewed (and panned) David Guterson's novel Ed King, he took note of one part: "What follows are three pages that might very well win the Literary Review’s annual Bad Sex Award."... More »

Palin Emails' Big Reveal: Sarah Writes at 8th-Grade Level

...and that's pretty darn good: writing analysts

(Newser) - Sarah Palin writes like an eighth grader, and that's actually a compliment. Following Friday's massive release of hundreds of emails she wrote as governor, two writing analysts evaluated 60 randomly chosen messages that were at least one paragraph, and determined that Palin wrote them at a grade level... More »

Groupon: We Owe Our Success to Good Writing

Daily deals site differentiates itself through the 'Groupon Voice'

(Newser) - Pop Quiz: What’s the best way to describe a 4,700-pound chandelier? If you want to work at Groupon, your answer should be “More brilliant than a studious Christmas tree.” That’s an actual question the booming Internet company asks its prospective employees, reports the New York ... More »

High School English: A Waste of Time?

No one wants to teach grammar because it's not fun: Kim Brooks

(Newser) - Sometimes, while Kim Brooks is grading essays by her college composition students, she cries. "Not real tears, exactly—more a spontaneous, guttural sob, often loud and unpleasant enough to startle my husband or children," she writes in Salon . Why? Because many of these students "simply ... cannot write.... More »

25 Commandments for Journalists

A former Guardian editor shares some advice

(Newser) - Some 15 years ago, a British writer drummed up a list of "commandments" for journalists. Tim Radford, former science, arts, and literature editor at the Guardian, pulled together 25 thoughts in response to a question he asked himself: "What is the most important thing to remember about writing... More »

Bad Sex Writing Award Goes to...

Sorry, Rowan Somerville: Sex and lepidopterists just don't mix

(Newser) - “Like a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect with a too blunt pin he screwed himself into her.” If this less-than-amorous passage makes you cringe, you're not alone: Irish author Rowan Somerville has won this year's Bad Sex in Fiction Award for the passage in The Shape of Her.... More »

Inside James Frey's Sweatshop-Like Novel Factory

Controversial author hires writers to churn out novels on the cheap

(Newser) - James Frey, infamous for angering Oprah with his "fake memoir" A Million Little Pieces, idolizes Vonnegut, Hemingway, and Henry Miller. He's the kind of writer who talks about wanting to "change the game" and "move the paradigm." Yet he's also the head of Full Fathom Five,... More »

Let's Rethink How We Teach English

Kids can't write, and it's getting worse

(Newser) - Take it from a first-year college instructor: The writing skills of young adults are a joke. "They have either forgotten the rules of writing, or they never learned them in the first place," writes Kara Miller of Babson College. And while the media focuses on the need for... More »

Roger Ebert Regains His Voice Online

Massive online journal is 'saving' ailing film critic as he faces death

(Newser) - Roger Ebert once “lived his life through microphones,” writes Chris Jones. But since his voice and the ability to eat or drink were taken from him in a 2006 surgery for thyroid cancer, he has returned to his best gift—the written word. “His new life is... More »

Finally! A Sarcasm-Specific Punctuation Mark

Experts not sure you need to pay $1.99 to get it across

(Newser) - Sarcastic people around the world, rejoice—a father-son team has finally developed a punctuation mark purpose-built to make sarcasm clear in written and electronic communication. “Questions have the question mark, exclamations have the exclamation point,” reasons the elder creator. The SarcMark is “the 21st century’s punctuation.... More »

You're 'Me,' Not 'Myself,' and Other Grammar Peeves

Sad kids do not 'literally tear' the heart out of a mall Santa, and other mistakes

(Newser) - Some common grammar mistakes are also inexcusable, Johnny Truant writes for Copyblogger. Too many of the following, and your readers may decide "that you’re actually a chimpanzee—and not one of the smart ones, either."
  • It's "me," not "myself:" People often "think
... More »

Emoticons Invade Academia

Teaching millennials causes new frustrations for college writing professors

(Newser) - College professors have lamented the state of student writing for centuries. But today’s Internet-obsessed culture brings new, infuriating errors to Writing 101 as students brazenly use colloquialisms like “:-)” and “LOL” in essays. “Occasionally, I've seen someone using the number 4 for the word 'for,'”... More »

15-Letter Phrase for Memory Boost? Crossword Puzzle

Activity may fend off the start of memory loss

(Newser) - Doing crossword puzzles may delay the slide into forgetfulness associated with dementia, a study shows. Researchers monitored the frequency with which a group of elderly subjects engaged in reading, writing, group discussions, playing music, playing cards, and doing crossword puzzles, and found that those who developed dementia took part in... More »

Tale of Wailin' Whalers Nails Bad Writing Contest

Drunken sailors' screaming contest wins 'coveted' Bulwer-Lytton prize

(Newser) - A tale of screaming seafarers has won a Washington man this year's grand prize for terrible writing, AP reports. The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest—named in honor of the British writer who coined "It was a dark and stormy night"—rewards the author who can come up with the... More »

Sotomayor: Good Judge, Crappy Writer

Dry, plodding opinions could make her left's Clarence Thomas

(Newser) - Sonia Sotomayor obviously has her talents, but “writing isn’t one of them,” writes Stephanie Mencimer in Mother Jones. “Sotomayor’s opinions read like she’s still following a formula she learned in college.” Whereas someone like Antonin Scalia wows with his airy and convincing prose,... More »

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