Out this week is Marcy Roznick’s If You Give a Kid a Cookie, Will He Shut the —- Up?, a parody aimed at adults of the 1985 children’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie… What’s up with all the profanity in book titles lately?
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.
Olsson’s, a small chain that was an old standby among Washington D.C. independent bookstores, is likely to file for bankruptcy. It was the stores’ ample music sections and gentrification that contributed most to its downfall. “‘The book business is getting a little soft. It’s not selling as much as it used to,’ Olsson said. ‘Our music sales went from 50 percent of our business to maybe 15. We lost a lot of revenue, and at the same time rents went up and real estate taxes went up. I don’t know what we would have done differently. It’s a killer.'”The linguistic capabilities of modern world leaders. Well done, Pope, well done.For those whose fantasies involve real estate: Private Islands for SaleAnd a pair of audio items:Nam Le’s The Boat is getting rave reviews. Here he visits The Leonard Lopate Show.Garth covered the PEN World Voices Tribute to Robert Walser. Interested readers can now listen to the entire event.
Swarm and Spark, a new column at The Millions, invites you to write with your questions about publishing, the literary life, or writing. The column is written by two anonymous figures: a NYC editor with years in the industry and an MFA professor at a long-established program. Ask anything that has plagued, confounded, pleased or troubled you about your life in and around literature and you may be answered, always with respect: your question will be treated as anonymous as well. Send your true confessions, complaints and queries to [email protected].
What’s behind the rise of the new-adult genre of fiction? You could blame the rise of Millennials, but that would be, as Emily Landau argues in a piece for the Canadian magazine The Walrus, too cheap and reductive to really answer the question. Instead, she says that we should look at NA as fundamentally similar to YA, with the main difference being that NA books portrays characters on the cusp of independence. (Related: we polled a group of high school students to find out their favorite YA books of 2013.)
The Council of Literary Magazines and Presses is hosting their annual Spelling Bee Fundraiser on October 30th. New Yorker editor Ben Greenman will host the event, which will pit Jonathan Ames, Amor Towles and Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures author Emma Straub against one another (and more) in a battle of lexicographic perspicacity. (Can you state the language of origin, please?) The event will be judged by none other than Jesse Sheidlower, editor of the inimitable Oxford English Dictionary.