Stephen Colbert is keeping his promise to Maurice Sendak. The comedian will publish his children’s book I Am a Pole (And So Can You!) this spring. “I hope the minutes you and your loved ones spend reading it are as fulfilling as the minutes I spent writing it,” Colbert told The Hollywood Reporter. (See also: Colbert’s equally literary meeting with Ann Patchett)
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.
“In Rilke’s essay on Auguste Rodin, written in the same year, he describes the sculptor’s visits to the Jardin des Plantes early in the morning to sketch the sleepy animals. And later on, in Rodin’s studio on the Rue de l’Université, he observes a tiny plaster cast of an antique tiger that Rodin treasured: ‘There is a cast of a panther, of Greek workmanship, hardly as big as a hand…. If you look from the front under its body into the space formed by the four powerful soft paws, you seem to be looking into the depths of an Indian stone temple; so huge and all-inclusive does this work become.’” Henri Cole on the poet and a place that inspired his work.
When our own Mark O’Connell reviewed Edouard Levé’s Autoportrait, he wrote that the book compels you to keep reading because “the more Levé says, the more facts he sets down, the more you realize he hasn’t said.” But what if at the end, you’re meant to reread the book, too? Over at Words Without Borders, Jan Steyn says “the only way to get a better idea of how [these sentences] fit together is to keep reading, and reading, until the end, and then perhaps to read the book again.”
"It was spring. Byron was leaving England forever, a cloud of infamy hanging over him. (He is one of the few people you can write something like that about and have it be true; that is part of why he's so satisfying.)" Via The Awl: the adventures of John Polidori, literary vampire and doctor to Lord Byron.