There is no action without consequence, no cause without effect. In bad fiction, those effects fall upon each other like poorly laid dominoes, resulting in tedious plotting. Better writers can make predictable results seem fresh through cleverness and sincerity, but great writers tell stories that refuse the easy answers of inevitability.
Just as Obama, in his increasing urge to inspire, a necessary aspect of his calling perhaps, often seeks a rhetoric free of bitterness and high on healing, Baldwin, in his urge to speak difficult truths, to tell white people what they least wished to hear, sometimes moved toward a tone which was almost shrill.
Kepler's world: Celebrating the work of a neglected astronomer, The Economist, August 13, 2009 [See recommended reading by Johannes Kepler]
Updates to my recommended reading ... added to posts on these authors:
The Economist on the life of Friedrich Engels
The Economist on Galileo
F. R. Leavis on William Wordsworth
Peter W. Schramm on Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln