In 1962, Samuel Beckett wrote “Play.” Originally intended to be a stage production, the piece has now been adapted as a short film starring Alan Rickman, Kristin Scott-Thomas and Juliet Stepherson. Come for the Beckett writing (full text can be found here), but stay for the disembodied heads-in-urns.
Mark Twain first rose to fame as the author of an essay about a frog-jumping contest in California. Originally titled “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” the essay went viral in America’s biggest newspapers, eventually inspiring the New York Tribune to write of Twain that “no reputation was ever so rapidly won.” Yet the humor which made the essay so popular is often lost on modern audiences, in no small part because, as Ben Turnoff writes in Lapham’s Quarterly, frontier humor isn’t funny if there's no Wild West.
Ever since Paul Thomas Anderson announced his intention to film Inherent Vice, there’s been a lot of hand-wringing over whether it’s even possible to adapt a Thomas Pynchon book for the screen. Now that it’s out, Geoffrey O’Brien investigates how faithful the movie is to the book, and whether or not that’s a good thing. Related: our own Garth Risk Hallberg’s review of the book when it came out.
This week saw the release of The Jaguar’s Children, a novel set on the Mexican border that draws on author John Vaillant’s experience in his wife’s home state of Arizona. At The Walrus, Sasha Chapman provides more background on Vaillant in her review of the book, which notes the importance of jaguars in Mexican symbology.