I spent last weekend as a correspondent for the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature. As such, I covered two events for the organization: Friday night’s ninth annual Translation Slam and Sunday afternoon’s Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture featuring Sonia Sotomayor. (I also submitted a pretty sweet author photograph, if I do say so myself.) For full multimedia coverage of the entire festival, check out the PEN Live Tumblr.
Thriller writer James Patterson was set to publish a novel in November about an attempt on his author colleague Stephen King's life, subtly titled The Murder of Stephen King. Following reports of real-life threats against King, however, the book has been scuttled. After you've read that tale of high dudgeon, see also our editor-in-chief Lydia Kiesling’s essay, “Everything I Know About America I Learned from Stephen King.”
The New Inquiry's updated site launched over the weekend, and it's currently undergoing a live beta test. They've also just unveiled a bumper crop of new bloggers. One of the site's interesting features is that all of its content is available for sharing and remixing under a creative commons license.
To address the state’s ongoing financial shortfalls, California’s government announced last May that they intended to close a quarter of the state’s 278 parks by next July. Upset by the decision to save money at the expense of the state’s natural beauty, three filmmakers embarked on a 3,000 mile trip around the Golden State’s wildlife reserves, recreation areas, and parks to shoot The First 70, a gorgeous documentary about the parks being closed and the individuals fighting to preserve them. You can check out the trailer over here.
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.
Book to movie news: Soon to hit theaters is a big-screen take on Allen Ginsburg's Howl, focusing on the obscenity trial Ginsberg faced after the publication of the poem and starring James Franco as Ginsberg (alongside Jon Hamm and Jeff Daniels). (The trailer). The film includes an animation of the poem itself by illustrator Eric Drooker. Art from the animation has been collected in a new book under the title Howl: A Graphic Novel.