“Limits stop you from living a life without limits,” writes Augusten Burroughs. “Of course, this is only an illusion. What limits really do is give you an acceptable excuse to avoid doing something.” (He’s talking about life, not Oulipo.) The piece is excerpted from his recent book, This Is How.
What happens when two magazine writers publish stories on the same topic within a month of each other? We get to read some of the best long-form journalism of the year. Both Esquire’s Chris Jones and The Washingtonian’s Garrett M. Graff wrote about what it was like to be on Air Force One after the Kennedy assassination. Jones’ “The Flight From Dallas” hits 7,600 words, but Graff’s “Angel is Airborne” totals 18,000. Save some time to read both because they’re equally gripping and uniquely told narratives.
Attention New Yorkers: The 2010 PEN World Voices Festival kicks off today with Claire Messud, Lorraine Adams, and Norman Rush. Update: Audio of this stimulating discussion of diversity in literature is available at WNYC. And it looks like many World Voices events will be streaming live at the PEN Website, accessible whether you hang your hat in New York or Nome (or Wasilla). Tonight catch Patti Smith, Rodrigo Frésan, and Salman Rushdie.
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.