“Utter devotion to the principle that distraction is Satan and writing is paramount can be just as poisonous as an excess of diversion,” writes Benjamin Nugent.
The New York Times is reporting that the poet John Ashbery has died. A major figure in American letters, Ashbery won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award in a single year for his book Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. The full Times obituary has more.
What inspired Samuel Clemens to change his name to Mark Twain? Was it a Mississippi riverboat captain? Did he earn it by “drinking at a one-bit saloon in Virginia City, Nevada?” Or, as rare book dealer Kevin Mac Donnell now alleges in the new issue of Mark Twain Journal, did the author find his pseudonym in a popular humor journal?
“I am very fortunate to be involved in a number of supportive communities who rally when things like this happen – but rarely do I laugh quite as hard as I did when reading Avid Reader’s responses.” The Guardian has the uplifting story of how an independent Australian bookstore “took on anti-feminist trolls and won.” If for some reason, after reading that, you want to wade into an equally polarized comments section, scroll down to the conversation following Daniel Jose Ruiz‘s recent piece on geekdom and race.
Out this week: The Dark Dark by Samantha Hunt; The Epiphany Machine by David Burr Gerrard; Like A Fading Shadow by Antonio Muñoz Molina; Beautiful Animals by Lawrence Osborne; The Dog’s Last Walk by Howard Jacobson; and Less by Andrew Sean Greer. For more on these and other new titles, go read our just-published book preview.
Cole Stryker‘s Epic Win for Anonymous: How 4chan’s Army Conquered the Web looks into one of the internet’s most infamous image boards. Housing Works Bookstore will be hosting a party in September to celebrate its launch. To tide you over, you can check out the author’s interview at Betabeat.