The Orient Express began service on this day in 1883—Paris to Istanbul in 83.5 hours. Agatha Christie may be the most famous writer to have capitalized on the train’s romantic allure, but the list of books begins decades before her (Dracula, for example) and goes for decades after.
In its treatment of the poor, Britain may be “going back to the Middle Ages,” says Booker repeat winner Hilary Mantel. Indeed, she explains, “In some respects … Cromwell lived in a more enlightened time.” And she’s not the only high profile UK author to come to the side of government welfare these days. In a two-part interview for The Daily Show, J.K. Rowling notes that she couldn’t have written her first books without government “benefits.”
At Guernica Magazine, John Sevigny on Francisco Goya and the invention of modern art.
“Maybe I [felt] a shift in responsibility when I had kids. I wanted the work I was doing, whatever it was, to be something that could be meaningful to them one day. That’s where the germ of the memoir came from. I thought that perhaps writing about my parents and where I came from would one day be helpful for my kids.” For Guernica, Christopher Kondrich interviews Tracy K. Smith about writing a memoir, the presence of David Bowie in her Life on Mars, and her reverence for the cosmic. Also check out Sophia Nguyen’s Millions review of Smith’s memoir, Ordinary Light.
Suzan-Lori Parks wrote a play every day during Trump's first 100 days as president which will be published next year as 100 Plays for the First Hundred Days. She talks to American Theatre about why she decided to undertake such a project, how difficult the process was and the importance of showing up and being present. Includes excerpts from the book.
Someone's finally done it, and it's our own Emily St. John Mandel, to boot: over at FiveThirtyEight, Mandel crunches the numbers on books with the word "girl" in the title, concluding that we may not have reached peak girl yet. (Also 65% of the time, the girl in question is actually a woman.) Nonetheless, if you're looking to go rogue, check out our guide about how to title every book you ever write.
Name a famous person, living or dead, you'd like to have dinner with. If you answered “Henry Miller,” you can watch Dinner With Henry, a rare, 30-minute documentary about Henry Miller, that is exactly what its title implies: footage of Miller having dinner. (via @maudnewton)