“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.
“Writing gives me great feelings of pleasure. There’s a marvelous sense of mastery that comes with writing a sentence that sounds exactly as you want it to. It’s like trying to write a song, making tiny tweaks, reading it out loud, shifting things to make it sound a certain way. It’s very physical. I get antsy. I jiggle my feet a lot, get up a lot, tap my fingers on the keyboard, check my e-mail. Sometimes it feels like digging out of a hole, but sometimes it feels like flying. When it’s working and the rhythm’s there, it does feel like magic to me.” Susan Orlean on why she writes.
One Siberian city is offering free subway rides to passengers who can recite “at least two verses from any poem by Alexander Pushkin.” The obvious corollary would be NJ Transit providing free service to passengers capable of singing “Born to Run” in its entirety.
Dave Eggers has a new novel out this week, while Neil Gaiman has an illustrated version of a previously published story on shelves. Also out: I Love You More by Jennifer Murphy; The City Son by Samrat Upadhyay; and The Last Magazine by the late Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings.
“Emily Brontë teaches us that fiction is not defined by what an author has done, but what an author has felt. To write is often to observe, not necessarily to experience. It is possible to be strong, independent, and still be at home; there is nothing limiting or weak about the ‘domestic’ life. Daily life is not to be avoided—in fact, it can be our most fruitful source of truth.” These and other helpful life lessons from the Brontë sisters over at The Daily Beast. How did the sisters even get their start as writers, anyway?
Mick Jagger couldn’t get no satisfaction in Clearwater, Florida in 1965. If John Jeremiah Sullivan is to be believed, it was a young woman by the name of Ginny French who inspired Jagger to write the song while lounging poolside the morning after a big performance. If music marginalia is your thing, be sure to check out The Millions’ own Torch Ballads and Jukebox Music column.