What’s better than being a writer? A writer who gets paid. Manjula Martin and Jane Friedman have launched the new digital magazine Scratch, which gives writers information on how to advocate for their work. The preview issue is free and contains essays on what freelancers can learn from street vendors, Cord Jefferson on outgrowing his materialism, and an interview with Jonathan Franzen. You can subscribe here.
The London Review of Books sought out Will Self to help create “a digital literary work that pushed the boundaries of the literary essay well beyond its traditional form.” The effort, they hoped, would “loosen and enhance the structure of the essay, changing the way the reader interacts with the text.” Well, consider that a success. Behold, “Kafka’s Wound” in all its multimedia glory. [Bonus: Millions readers in the UK can catch Will Self’s discussion of the digital essay on September 6th.]
“I wanted to offer my students an alternative to the purely confessional mode. I wanted them to write about themselves without falling into a paralyzingly portentous tone. I wanted more humor in their work, more complexity, more detail, more balance—more good writing. I wanted fewer italicized passages, less use of the breathless present tense. I wanted no more tears in the workshop, no more embarrassing scenes.” Emily Fox Gordon writes about trauma narratives in the classroom, the trouble with writing as therapy, and the key differences between confessing and confiding in an essay for The American Scholar.
“Jeopardy!” champion Ken Jennings charts “the wide, weird world of geography” in his latest book Maphead. NPR investigates his process in a “Fresh Air” interview. Scribner Books provides a small sample as well. While discussing the particulars of America’s “Road Geeks,” Jennings makes it clear to this listener that he’d probably be interested in Cynthia Enloe and Joni Seager’s The Real State of America Atlas, which was reviewed by our own Bill Morris last July.
What was the very first ebook? It’s hard to say with any degree of precision, but a pretty good candidate is Peter James’s Host, which was copied and stored on a floppy disk back in 1993. At The Guardian, a look back at the early life of the format. You could also read David Rothman’s tribute to the ebook pioneer Michael Hart. (h/t The Paris Review)