At a party thrown by Tom Stoppard in 1972, Kingsley Amis bumped into Roald Dahl, and was encouraged by the Matilda author to write a children’s book in order to make a quick buck. “The little bastards’d swallow it,” Dahl said.
The Mississippi was integral to Mark Twain’s fiction, so David Carkeet traced Twain’s path on the river in the new issue of Smithsonian. “What would Samuel Clemens have made of the Riverwalk? He was a grown child who readily took a God’s-eye view of life on earth. He would have loved it.” Pair with: Our essay on Twain’s travel writing.
Recommended Listening: Hanya Yanagihara, author of A Little Life, on Otherppl with Brad Listi. “It was draining in ways that I didn’t really realize until the book was done.” Pair with our own Lydia Kiesling’s piece on life in the works of Yanagihara and Atticus Lish.
Somehow we knew that Gary Shteyngart had a pretty interesting childhood. As Andy Borowitz explains in a review of Little Failure, the author’s new memoir, the elder Shteyngart regaled his son with “outlandish” stories, most notably “a sci-fi saga about a Jewish planet under constant attack by volleys of pork.” You can learn what the author likes to read today in his Year in Reading piece.
Out this week: The Color Master, a new short story collection by Aimee Bender; an English-language translation of The Infatuations by Javier Marias; and Brief Encounters with the Enemy, the new Saïd Sayrafiezadeh book that Scott Cheshire reviewed for us on Monday. Read more about these and other releases in our Great 2013 Second-Half Book Preview.
Gerrard Winstanley’s 1649 “The True Levellers Standard Advanced.” The True Levellers were a radical Protestant sect that founded a commune in Surrey during the English Civil War. In this rather astonishing and neglected declaration, Winstanley argues that God intended the earth to be a common treasury for all and that disparities in property and power between the rich and the poor are unholy and need to be abolished. (Billy Bragg has a song on Back to Basics called “The World Turned Upside Down” that’s based on the Diggers’ Song, also written by Winstanley.)Bookride documents the surprising desirability of W.G. Sebald books among collectors. “At one point his books were making exceptional sums on Ebay and people wanted ephemera, posters, recordings and anything to do with his legendary walk from Lowestoft to Boulge.” The Rings of Saturn is coveted in particular. Only a few hundred copies of the English first edition were printed and they mostly turn up in East Anglia.Many a freelance journalist has pondered the idea of an online marketplace for writing in recent years, one that might ease the inefficiencies and frustration of pitching articles. Attempting to fill that gap is Reporterist, a journalism marketplace. One of the founders offers up details of the project in an interview with the Online Journalism Review.