Roger Boylan at the Boston Review writes about the flourishing posthumous career of Mark Twain: “…more than 5,000 previously unknown letters of Twain’s have surfaced in the last 50 years. This represents an average of two new letters per week, but still only about one-tenth of the 50,000 or so he is believed to have written.” And at Slate, Craig Fehrman discusses the “brilliant brand management” behind the handling of Twain’s autobiography.
“The lie I told most often in my twenties during the Reagan era was that I liked other people’s children although I didn’t intend to have my own.” For The Rumpus, Kyoko Mori writes an essay on the choice to raise animals instead of children. Pair with: an essay on the complexities of motherhood.
Important Indiegogo Alert: Kenneth James is editing the personal journals of novelist and critic Samuel R. Delany in a five-volume series. The first volume is complete, and James is asking for a bit of help to complete the second. Neil Gaiman has offered substantial monetary support.
“I was being paranoid, but those of us who write memoirs should never underestimate the damage they can cause. I’ve seen close relationships rocked by a memoir. I’ve seen parents stop speaking to their children for years. Memoirs pose a natural threat to the family mythology, those portraits framed on the mantel piece that say everyone is happy and nothing is wrong.” Sarah Hepola asks her mother and father what it felt like to be portrayed in her memoir, Blackout.
Jeopardy! champion, Maphead author, and all-around puzzle whiz Ken Jennings has devised a month-long “Great American History Puzzle,” and the grand prize winner will receive a free trip to Washington D.C., as well as a “Secrets of the Smithsonian” tour no doubt reminiscent of touring the back room at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie.
Robert Darnton at the New York Review of Books considers the feasibility of creating a National Digital Library: “I know: the devil can cite Jefferson. Anyone can cull through the papers of the Founding Fathers in order to find quotations in support of a cause. But I can’t resist.”
New this week: The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit, The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls, Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan, The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan, The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth Silver, Bobcat by Rebecca Lee, and a retelling of One Thousand and One Nights by Hanan al-Shaykh, with a foreword by Mary Gaitskill.