The New York Times says readers like books about animals.

Oh, New York Times. You guys are later than my period!

(Yes, I have been waiting five months to make that joke).

In other news, award-winning writer Justin Cronin has signed a $3.75 million dollar deal to write a postapocalyptic vampire trilogy -- under a pseudonym ("Jordan Ainsley"), of course, lest his literary efforts be sullied by the content.

I'm a little dubious that an author like Cronin, known for his artful sentences more than his sales, can change his stripes so thoroughly.

There's a lot of debate about whether you can teach writing, with the consensus being that you really can't. You can make a good writer better, but you can't make a non-writer a writer.

To that I would add: you can't change the kind of writing a writer does. If you're inclined toward murder mysteries, or breezy, contemporary fiction, or or stories of things that bump and slither in the night, not all of the schooling or effort in the world will turn you into the kind of writer whose work is savored by the critics and celebrated at Yaddo.

Likewise, if you naturally lean more literary, selling out and writing something that'll fly off the paperback rack at Target may not be as easy as you'd think.

(The Atlantic ran a lengthy profile of Harlan Coben, bestselling author and, my husband will have you know, Amherst classmate of David Foster Wallace, talking about how he couldn't do the kind of work that DFW does, no matter how hard he tried or how badly he wanted to...but that DFW couldn't be him, either).

Then again, Cronin/Ainsley's publisher paid the advance on the strength of a 400-page partial manuscript, so maybe there is some there there. We shall see.

Jen