Though Mark Twain first gained notoriety after publishing an essay about a famous jumping frog, the onetime Samuel Clemens didn’t really hit his stride until he became a public speaker, as the money he accrued from reading in front of audiences gave him a steady source of income. At Salon, Ben Tarnoff recounts Twain’s journey to the podium, one laid out more broadly in Tarnoff’s book about a group of San Francisco writers.
In 1952, John Steinbeck wrote that Al Capp, the cartoonist and Lil’ Abner creator, might well have been the best writer working in the world at the time. In the Times, Andy Webster reviews a new biography of Capp, which reveals that underneath it all lay “a toxic chip on his shoulder.”
Appearing Elsewhere 1: Be sure to check the Tournament of Books on Monday for Max's judgment. Which will be the victor, Shadow Country or The Lazarus Project?Appearing Elsewhere 2: Check out Millions contributor Emily's review of D.J. Taylor's Bright Young People: The Lost Generation of London's Jazz Age at The Washington Times.Further Reading: Many additions have been made to The Millions' Collaborative Atlas of Book Stores and Literary Places. Don't forget to add your own favorite spots."Inventor Paolo Bizziocchi proposes that it would be easier to read text if it were sloped downhill from left to right." And he has a patent!Michael Jackson is auctioning off a whole bunch of his possessions April 22-25 in Beverly Hills. The catalogues are entitled King of Pop: A once in a lifetime Auction Featuring the Personal Property of Michael Jackson. Definitely curious.Following up on the D.T. Max profile of David Foster Wallace (on which Garth weighed in), Max has answered some questions at the New Yorker website.The longlist of Orange Prize nominees has been announced and we're happy to see that debut novelist and Millions Year in Reading contributor V.V. Ganeshananthan is one of them.Book clubs are supposed to be for books, even if you're in elementary school.
French-Canadian writers are in an odd place when it comes to Canadian literature. By the official definition of CanLit, they’re part of the canon, yet because of the Quebecois language barrier, they maintain a certain distance from the literature of English Canada. At Page-Turner, Pasha Malla writes about their odd identity. You could also read Andrew Saikali on Canadian novellas.
After nearly a quarter of a millennium, the Encyclopedia Britannica is ending its print run. While the publication plans to move to a digital subscription based model, and to continue to gather information about the known world, many are sad to note its passing. Roxane Gay offers a particularly heartfelt eulogy: " it was exciting to open the huge box and pull out the leather bound volumes, so many of them, the pages lined in gold."
Book Cover Roundup, Item #1: Each year The Millions publishes a high stakes face-off between the UK and US covers of books featured in The Morning News' Tournament of Books (2014, 2013, 2012). Now, for Sarah Hemfrey's research on book covers in the publishing industry, it's your turn to be the judge. Item #2: if Harry Potter is more your style, that whole series is getting new cover designs, too.